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Publisher's Summary

A new American classic from the Pulitzer Prize-winning author of Gilead and Housekeeping. Marilynne Robinson, one of the greatest novelists of our time, returns to the town of Gilead in an unforgettable story of a girlhood lived on the fringes of society in fear, awe, and wonder.
Lila, homeless and alone after years of roaming the countryside, steps inside a small-town Iowa church - the only available shelter from the rain - and ignites a romance and a debate that will reshape her life. She becomes the wife of a minister, John Ames, and begins a new existence while trying to make sense of the life that preceded her newfound security.
Neglected as a toddler, Lila was rescued by Doll, a canny young drifter, and brought up by her in a hardscrabble childhood. Together they crafted a life on the run, living hand to mouth with nothing but their sisterly bond and a ragged blade to protect them. Despite bouts of petty violence and moments of desperation, their shared life was laced with moments of joy and love. When Lila arrives in Gilead, she struggles to reconcile the life of her makeshift family and their days of hardship with the gentle Christian worldview of her husband which paradoxically judges those she loves.
Revisiting the beloved characters and setting of Robinson’s Pulitzer Prize-winning Gilead and Home, a National Book Award finalist, Lila is a moving expression of the mysteries of existence that is destined to become an American classic.
©2014 Marilynne Robinson (P)2014 Macmillan Audio
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Customer Reviews

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By Stevon on 02-06-15

Life is what it is....

This isn't a book for everyone, it's a book for thinkers, those who think about God, life, and what iife is all about. Life is what it is is the mantra I took away from the story. A sequel to the author's Pulitzer Prize winning "Gilead", it's also set in Gilead, Iowa with mostly the same characters. This book, however, focuses on Lila, one of the minor characters in the book Gilead. The author has worked at the University of Iowa and its Writers Workshop for the last 25 years. She's a thinker, an intellectual and this, and her other books, are a reflection of the believes she has developed over her lifetime. The author is a member of the United Church of Christ and a follower of the teachings of John Calvin. The more I learned about her in researching her life, it came to me that this is her way to put what she thinks about life and religion into a book as a parable set in a fictional small Iowa town. If you enjoy her books and what they are saying it makes you want to know more.

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14 of 15 people found this review helpful

By Naomi on 12-08-14

A beautiful story of love and God's grace

This is the story of Lila, a vagrant working her way day by day through Iowa during the 1930's and '40's, and how her life is affected by the kindness and casual cruelty of the strangers that she meets. Even Lila is not sure who she really is; all she knows is what she has been told by a woman named Doll who rescued her from neglect and mistreatment. We never know any more about Lila's or Doll's origins than Lila herself knows, and we find that don't need to know more. Ms Robinson writes with deep respect and love for the poor -- those who live from hard-working hand to desperate mouth. Eventually Lila meets Reverend John Ames, an elderly minister who has lost both his wife and his young son. The two fall in love, marry, and have a child, knowing that John may not live long enough to see the boy grow up. The growth of their love, of Lila's quest to understand her place in the world, and of John's struggles to reconcile his Calvinist faith with the lives around him and his own lived experience are beautifully and sensitively told both in Robinson's writing and in Maggie Hoffman's reading.

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4 of 4 people found this review helpful

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By Eileen Scholes on 11-19-17


I listened to this at least 3 times and each time was I more enriched by the story. Great reading/ listening and would recommend this for a book club discussion.

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By stylo on 03-11-17

A wonderful love story

Would you consider the audio edition of Lila: A Novel to be better than the print version?

I have only experienced the audio version, but read 'Home' by Marilynne Robinson. I prefer to read Marilynne Robinson's books because her prose is so beautiful and descriptive there are passages I would like to instantly re-read.

Which character – as performed by Maggie Hoffman – was your favourite?

I particularly liked the Rev. John Ames for his incredible kindness. Lila is a profound, thought-provoking story if at times a little too slow in the telling!

Was this a book you wanted to listen to all in one sitting?

Lila's thoughts meander back and forth without clear definition which can be confusing especially when listening to them so it would have been good to listen to the book in one sitting.

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By Blazenka on 04-01-16


This book will make you rethink what you thought you knew about life and why people behave the way they do. The narrator is brilliant and enhances the experience.

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By Sandra on 02-27-16


A hauntingly beautiful story of a woman raised in great hardship who grows up to be grateful for the hurt she has had to endured and appreciates all she has in her life because of it.

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