Book Review: Gilead

2017 Reading Challenge: Reading for Growth

A Pulitzer Prize or National Book Award Winner

For this category, I chose Gilead by Marilynne Robinson, winner of the Pulitzer Prize in 2005.

Gilead, set in Gilead, Iowa, begins as a letter by John Ames, an elderly pastor, tgileado his young son to provide his son with the legacy of a father that he will not have the opportunity to know well. The story continues as this letter throughout with only breaks between subjects or writing sessions. More than just a letter of wisdom handed down to this son, Gilead becomes a journey of a life well examined as Ames is confronted with reconciling his relationship with the adult son of his best friend in the present day as he recounts his memories of the past.

This epistolary novel (a novel written as a series of documents) forces the reader to slow down and let the words of the good pastor work their way into your heart. Without flash and fast-paced drama, it surprised me by becoming a book I couldn’t put down.

Ames does not shy away from revealing his struggles and flaws, giving the reader a fully developed (maybe even more than fully developed) character. Gilead felt more like the memoir of an actual person than fiction and that explains my liking it so much.



Are you still with me? Do you have a pet?

I have been MIA from the blogoverse here, but with good reason. As much as I’d love a job where I just sat around and wrote stuff (apparently it IS possible, so I hear), I decided to attempt a venture (adventure?) where I may be able to make money sooner while at the same time not have a boss.

This will still be my writing website, and I still intend to cash in on my YeahWrite Bronze membership perk of having one of the YW editors give me a consultation. So when I’m not painting, I’ll be over here writing. And getting back to the remedial writing advice, which means getting back to the novel.

Citra2-056What’s that? Painting? Yes, painting portraits of pets… any kind that has legs. I have my own website,, which is scary for a baby boomer (just barely) like myself, but there you go. So, check that out. I’ve set up some dedicated social media site, as one does these days: and instagram @EllenPaintsPets.

My twitter handle, @ellenbehm, is the same as always, it’s just that now I have to censor myself a wee bit.

Drop on by and see what I’ve done with the new place!