Tag Archives: Marilynne Robinson

#BookReview ‘Jack’ by Marilynne Robinson #classic #literary

Jack by Marilynne Robinson is fourth in her Gilead series, following Gilead, Home and Lila and is a love story. Jack Boughton is the troubled son of Presbyterian minister, and Della, the attractive, black, high school teacher, daughter of a Methodist minister. This is a novel about the quality of love, its consequences, and whether sometimes loving someone means saying goodbye. Marilynne Robinson

The story starts with such a brave scene for any author to write – a two-hander between Jack and Della as they meet accidentally at night. They are locked in a graveyard in St Louis and spend the night walking in conversation about life, their families, themselves, the world. A disreputable white man and a successful attractive black woman, in 1950s America. The conversation ebbs and flows, jumping from subject to subject as a real discussion does. They do not talk about love, but throughout the course of a number of chaste meetings, they fall in love.

It is sublime prose to sink into and absorb. Such small, familiar detail brings Jack and Della instantly to life. They are real and you care for them. The graveyard scene is long, so long I wondered if it took up the whole book.

We have heard of both these characters in the earlier Gilead books. We know Jack is a bad ‘un, as told by others. This is the first time we see into his head.

Robinson has a beautiful way of summarising truths that are easy to identify with. When Jack is with Della in the cemetery, he thinks, ‘Forever after, the thought of her would be painful, because it had been pleasant. Strange how that is.’ Jack is a mixture of insecurities, resentments, injuries and injustices brought upon himself and also by his strict religious upbringing by his pious pastor father.

Not a long book or a quick read, but absorbing. I totally understand why Jack falls for Della, wanting to save and protect her; I’m less sure why she loves him given the risks and dangers of a mixed marriage at that time. He loves his wisecracks and makes jokes at inappropriate times, misjudging the mood and causing silences. Their discussions range from Hamlet to theology, end-of-life world scenarios to poetry.

If you are new to Gilead, please don’t start with this book. Read them in order to get the most enjoyment of these complex stories of the Boughton and Ames families from Gilead, Iowa.

Read my review of Robinson’s other novels Housekeeping, Gilead and Home.

If you like this, try:-
Offshore’ by Penelope Fitzgerald
The Gustav Sonata’ by Rose Tremain
Time Will Darken It’ by William Maxwell

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JACK by Marilynne Robinson #bookreview https://wp.me/p5gEM4-561 via @SandraDanby

Great Opening Paragraph 130 ‘Gilead’ #amwriting #FirstPara

“I told you last night that I might be gone sometime, and you said, Where, and I said, To be with the Good Lord, and you said, Why, and I said, Because I’m old, and you said, I don’t think you’re old. And you put your hand in my hand and you said, You aren’t very old, as if that settled it. I told you you might have a very different life from mine, and from the life you’ve had with me, and that would be a wonderful thing, there are many ways to life a good life. And you said, Mama already told me that. And then you said, Don’t laugh! Because you thought I was laughing at you. You reached up and put your fingers on my lips and gave me that look I never in my life saw on any other face besides your mother’s. It’s a kind of furious pride, very passionate and stern. I’m always a little surprised to find my eyebrows singed after I’ve suffered one of those looks. I will miss them.”
‘Gilead’ by Marilynne Robinson Marilynne RobinsonBUY THE BOOK

Read my reviews of Gilead, Housekeeping and Home by Marilynne Robinson.

Try one of these 1st paras & discover a new author:-
Agnes Grey’ by Anne Bronte
The Big Sleep’ by Raymond Chandler
The Collector’ by John Fowles 22

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#FirstPara GILEAD  by Marilynne Robinson #amwriting https://wp.me/p5gEM4-4eD via @SandraDanby