Lila (Farrar, Straus and Giroux, $26) joins Home and Gilead in Marilynne Robinson’s moving trilogy about the lives and faith of an Iowa town in the 1940s and ‘50s. This third novel is a prequel to the first. Lila is the young wife of the elderly Reverend John Ames, the woman whose look of “furious pride, very passionate and stern,” Ames sees in the face of the seven-year-old son he addresses in Gilead. Much lies behind that “look”; Lila’s fury stems from the mystery of her parentage and why she was abandoned as a child, her subsequent rescue/abduction by the itinerant Doll, and their impoverished years on the road. Lila’s pride makes her a self-sufficient survivor and a woman of high moral standards; she’s seen too much of low ones, and while she may be poorly educated, she has a passion for understanding “why things happen the way they do.” This quest for wisdom, along with compassion and loneliness, draw Lila and the old man together; both are thunderstruck at the good fortune of their unexpected marriage. Robinson is eloquent about this unlikely couple, showing how their mutual attraction was physical, emotional, and intellectual—an inevitable match or, as Ames believes, one made in heaven—a sure sign of grace.
(This book cannot be returned.)