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 and widower, John Ames, and begins a new existence while trying to make sense of the days of suffering 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 of itinerant work. Together they crafted a life on the run, living hand-to-mouth with nothing but their sisterly bond and a lucky knife to protect them. But despite bouts of petty violence and moments of desperation, their shared life is laced with moments of joy and love. When Lila arrives in Gilead, she struggles to harmonize the life of her makeshift family and their days of hardship with the gentle worldview of her husband which paradoxically judges those she loves. Revisiting the beloved characters and setting of Marilynne Robinson's Pulitzer Prize-winning Gilead and Orange Prize-winning Home, Lila is a moving expression of the mysteries of existence.
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Winner of National Book Critics Circle Awards: Fiction 2015. Long-listed for Warwick Prize for Writing 2015 and Authors' Club Best First Novel Award 2015.
A masterpiece ... Lila is a superb creation Publishers Weekly One of the greatest living novelists ... [Lila is] just as wise, moving and genuine as its predecessors Harper's Bazaar Robinson brings [the story] to pulsating life in prose of great and luminous beauty ... a book that leaves the reader feeling what can only be called exaltation -- Neel Mukherjee Independent This superb novel can only add to [Robinson's] already stratospherically high reputation Daily Mail Lila is a really beautiful book: beautiful prose, beautiful story; morally beautiful too. After reading it the world seems more dazzling, fuller of wonder and mystery than it did before, as if you were newly in love. I wish I could persuade everyone who ever buys a book to read this one -- Cressida Connolly Spectator Deeply moving, almost transformative ... frank and direct, but occasionally moved to ecstasy by the spirit Sunday Times Tinged with heartbreaking beauty Scotsman Although Lila revisits the characters of Robinson's previous books, Gilead, a Pulitzer prizewinner, and Home, a finalist in the American National Book Awards, and brings a certain completeness to their journeys, the book stands well on its own as a powerful search for the meaning of life as well as a touching and unlikely story of love and, ultimately, hope The Times Robinson is a glorious writer ... This novel, different in tone from its predecessors, stands beautifully alongside them -- Claire Messud Financial Times There is no one quite like this American writer, or quite as good as her ... extraordinarily fluent and pitch perfect prose Tablet Measured and lyrical; the sound of this book is akin at times to the Cormac McCarthy of The Road ... Robinson writes brilliantly about the way people dance warily around each other, never quite coinciding, stricken with longing and love Literary Review This third novel in the sequence is, in many ways, the most adventurous of all ... Lila is the work of an exceptional novelist at the peak of her capacity -- Rowan Williams New Statesman Lila is a deeply affecting exploration of existence, love and the inevitability of loneliness. And although enriched by the two preceding books, it has the strength, beauty and originality to be read, enjoyed and appreciated as a standalone work. Written in beautiful, poetic prose, it's a remarkable achievement List A sumptuous, graceful, and ultimately life-affirming novel -- James Kidd Independent on Sunday Robinson has made a world so palpable and full that each book can stand alone...Taken together, these books will surely be known as one of the great achievements of contemporary literature Observer Told with measured and absorbing elegance, this account of the growing love and trust between Lila and Reverend Ames is touching and convincing. Scotland on Sunday Searching and full of grace Daily Telegraph Robinson explores eternity, and she does so in a quiet, ruminative style that takes over your heart as well as your head. Once you've fallen under her spell, she's not just mesmerising but indispensable -- Maggie Fergusson Intelligent Life (The Economist) Robinson's writing can light up consciousness, and make even the most passing thoughts feel indelible. Her older sister in American literature is Emily Dickinson Prospect Lila is a deeply affecting exploration of existence and love List The Gilead novels provide insights into a people whose fates are bound to the land they live on. Iowa must be proud to have such a chronicler among them -- Sarah Franklin Sunday Express As a reader you feel very well looked after by Marilynne Robinson: you are knocked out by the weight of thought, the care, the worry she puts into her work. You find yourself wandering into vast new rooms, as if you're in a fabulous museum you've dreamt up for your own pleasure. There's really no one else writing like this today ... Lila is just so damnably beautiful Herald Lila has a power beyond words Stylist Mesmerising ... reminiscent of the great Victorian novelists ... Robinson's exquisitely wrought prose resonates Mail on Sunday Her questioning books express wonder: they are enlightening, in the best sense, passionately contesting our facile, recycled understanding of ourselves and of our world -- Sarah Churchwell Guardian Subtle shifts of loyalties, strange moral priorities make [Robinson's] books compellingly powerful -- Joan Bakewell New Statesman The giant themes and big questions that sit beneath the surface of Lila's incredibly moving story are compelling -- Amma Asante Observer My novel of the year can only be Lila by the inimitable Marilynne Robinson ...my favourite living author and this once again demonstrates her remarkable gift for psychological depth -- Salley Vickers Observer Exquisitely observed, an ultimately optimistic journey through the corrosive power of shame to divide and distort -- Naomi Alderman Observer Lila by Marilynne Robinson is the heartbreaking conclusion to her Gilead trilogy -- Robert McCrum Observer Lila was the book of books this year, an amazing achievement -- Todd McEwen Sunday Herald One of the finest writers in America The Economist
Marilynne Robinson was born in 1947. Her first novel, Housekeeping (1981) received the PEN/Hemingway award for best first novel as well as being nominated for the Pulitzer Prize. Gilead won the Pulitzer Prize for fiction, and Home won the Orange Prize. She lives in Iowa.