Saturday, November 22, 2014


"Pity us, yes, but we are brave, she thought, and wild, more life in us than we can bear, the fire infolding itself in us."

I wasn't looking forward too much to Lila, even though I like Marilynne Robinson. But I knew it was another take on the Gilead people and my favorite of her books is Housekeeping. It turns out, though, that Lila is Housekeeping meets Gilead--the old preacher in Gilead marries the Sylvie character (not really, but sort of). I never would have believed that Robinson could have pulled it off. The old preacher in Gilead is so old and kind and good and Sylvie (Lila) is crazy--a lonely, wandering woman who talks to herself and who wonders often if she is crazy, and who is almost certainly perceived as crazy by people around her (crazy is her word, not mine).

While Housekeeping is an interpretation of the Book of Ruth, Lila is Hosea (even though Lila meditates on Ezekiel throughout the novel, with bits of Job and the Psalms thrown in): the old preacher is like the prophet who God tells to marry the prostitute. It is a picture of God's grace and love.

I feel similarly about Lila as I did about Gilead: I don't like Calvinism much at all, but these works are such winsome, Christian portrayals of Calvinism that I almost see how someone could buy it.

Also: it's obvious that there has to be a Lila, Part 2--because Lila, Part 1, doesn't get into the story of her ending up with Jack.

Oh, and of course, I love the parts of her being pregnant and a mother.


Miss Self-Important said...

I agree with your order of preferences for Robinson's books, and was indifferent to Lila for the same reason. But now I might reconsider.

Emily Hale said...

I didn't realize that you read Robinson! Lila was surprising, but still somewhat Gilead-esque.