Lila is an orphan. Or she might as well be. When the
story opens, she is a toddler under a table trying to be
very quiet, or else! An old vagrant named Doll steals her
away to raise her properly with love . . .
and we’re off and running. When I saw this book at the
library I knew I was in for a good read. Marilynne Robinson
does not disappoint. It was written in 2014. (And if you
read Gilead you might find it interesting to compare
these two books by this author.)
Although it’s kind of a quiet read, it is difficult to put down,
and oh, so easy to pick up and keep reading.
Lila is not an attractive child. In fact, Doll often says,
“If there was just something about you.” That reminds me
of the song lyric in Funny Girl—“Everything you’ve got’s
about right—but the damn thing don’t come out right.”*
After a while, living in Gilead, Iowa, Lila settles down a
little and begins an acquaintance with an old preacher. She
tells him some of her past, but it is so overwhelming that she
holds back a lot of it.
“Lila, I know I’ve said this any number of times. But people
do talk to me. About all sorts of things. Sometimes it helps.
At least that’s what they tell me.”
Lila eventually marries him.
There are frequent Bible quotations which fall into the novel
easily—as she reads sections of the Bible to try to understand
her husband, and when he tells of his praying/talking to God.
“Not my will but Thine.” Lovely snippets that carry the book
along gently –interspersed with our finding out about Lila’s
It is a past that is difficult to forget. Lila feels such guilt
and sorrow over her past that her future, even now married, is
Ms. Robinson holds the key to writing simply and creating
thoughtful situations and unforgettable characters.
I loved the book and give it
*”If A Girl Isn’t Pretty”