This is the 4th in the series of books following Robinson’s award-winning novel Gilead. These books are definitely connected but it’s not necessarily to read them in order. I did read them in order of publication and I recommend that but … . They deal with the lives of an older widowed minister in Iowa, his first two children, his 2nd wife and his son from the first marriage. The first book, Gilead is basically a journal and a long letter to the son by his 2nd wife, Lila.
Jack ~ by Marilynne Robinson 09 2020 / Read by Adam Vernor 10h 28m Rating: 9.25 / historical fiction – literary (Book 4 of Gilead series)
They are mostly set in rural Iowa but St Louis and other rural areas figure into it. They take place between WWI and the 1960s with a long flash back to the Civil War in Gilead.
In this book Jack, the minister’s son by his first wife, is found to be living like a semi-bum in St. Louis. He drinks a lot and although he’s a kind of charmer, tries to stay away from people because of his difficulties with God and his father – he’s such a disappointment, so troubled. He feels he brings trouble. As with the other books, there are a lot of Biblical references and philosophy. This is Jack’s story almost entirely from Jack’s point of view but told in 3rd person.
He meets a young woman named Della and they enjoy talking to each other very much. Over time they become involved on a very discreet level. She’s a black woman and the year is 1946 (post WWII). So this is not the safest of relationships for either of them. Jack was 4D for military purposes. He spent 2 years in prison for something minor. He’s very bright and funny but filled with self-loathing. How can he ever be connected to Della who is also the child of a minister and from a very good, protective family. But they do connect – they become so in spite of him.
It’s a good, good book, maybe not as good as the first three in the series, but very compelling, literary, intricate.