Monday, July 6, 2015

MARILYNNE ROBINSON: THAT RESERVOIR OF GOODNESS



This week President Obama delivered the eulogy for Clementa Pinckney, the South

Carolina pastor and state senator who was murdered while leading a Bible study. The President talked about an open heart and quoted from the author Marilynne Robinson whom he said wrote about “that reservoir of goodness beyond and of another kind that we are able to do each other in the ordinary cause of things.”

Ms. Robinson, winner of the National Humanities Medal and Pulitzer Prize for Fiction, whose novels are at the Monrovia Public Library, is known for her deep religious belief that often reveals itself in her writing.
 
Her first novel Housekeeping is cherished for its precise, almost poetic, writing style. This story of two sisters who are abandoned by their mother and cared for by various relatives is a slow-paced reflection on loss and endurance.

Readers waited 24 years for Robinson’s next book, Gilead, which President Obama lists as one of his favorites. This is the fictional autobiography of the dying John Ames who remembers 3 generations of Congregational ministers who lived in Giliad, Iowa. The author’s knowledge and affection for religion shows in this thought-provoking work.

There are two sequels, with stories related to Giliad. Home is set in the same town and retells the story of a prodigal son.  The favored son, so different from his father, returns home to make peace in the family. The 2015 sequel is Lila, the story of John Ames’ wife, who as a young woman was homeless and lived a life distant from that of her future husband.   

Marilynne Robinson’s books, which reward patient readers, are critically praised and frequent book group choices. 

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