Lila (the third of the trilogy that starts with Gilead) came out just over a year ago. I read it immediately and then read it again about a month later. It is in my short list of best books I have read.
It has been three years since I had read Gilead and while I remember enjoying it, I wanted to read it again before I went back and read the second novel of this trilogy (Home).
Gilead is a slow novel. I can understand why people would not like it. There is a story, but the action is almost entirely internal. John Ames is a 76 year old pastor in a small Iowa town. Late in life he married Lila and they had a son. John has been having heart problems and he has been told to prepare for death. So the book is a series of letters (no real chapters, just pauses between letters) to his son about his life and what he thinks is important about the world.
I like novels about ideas, but I am glad I listened to this on audiobook first. This second reading was still mostly audiobook, but I read about a third of it on kindle as well. Because it is first person narrated, the audio feels right. John is speaking to you (if you don’t mind being the son.)
I read this the first time not too long after reading something by Eugene Peterson and I remember thinking John Ames is the fictional equivalent of the wisdom I love hearing from Peterson. Unintentionally, I did the same thing again. If you love Peterson, you will likely enjoy this novel.
I had forgotten some of the details around Ames, prodigal godson, which is one of the main characters of the second book of the trilogy. So I am glad I read it as preparation. I still do not think it is quite as good as Lila, but it is good.