The Elegance of Marilynne Robinson’s Lila


Lila is every bit as stunning as Gilead and Home, all part of a trilogy examining religious faith and theology in small town America. (Each book can be read as a stand-alone.) It reminds me of Orfeo–both novels illuminate their subject matter through elegant, precise language with a keen sense of what matters to their characters.

Lila, as many readers will know from the previous books, is the young woman who appears in Gilead, Iowa, circulating at its margins, until she connects with a local minister, John Ames. John has been a widower for decades but he falls for the quiet, mysterious Lila, and the two marry. This is Lila’s story–where she came from, how she survived until she reached Gilead, and what she plans to do when she outlives her husband. Its beauty is quiet and powerful. Robinson is a master.