Jack by Marilynne Robinson
9/29/20; 320 pages
Farrar, Straus and Giroux
Gilead Series #4
John Ames Boughton(Jack) is the prodigal son of Gilead, Iowa's
Presbyterian minister who is currently living in St. Louis, Missouri. Jack is
the story of his relationship and romance with Della Miles, a high
school teacher who is the daughter of
a Methodist minister in Memphis. This is the story of when the two met
before Jack's 1957 return to Gilead. It is the 1950's and this is the
story of the beginning of their interracial
relationship, which is intense and deeply felt. The two bonded on their
shared experiences and love of books and poetry and their discussion of
faith. The novel opens after their disastrous first date and then
continues to a lengthy section of a night the two spend talking in a
One doesn't need to have read the previous Gilead novels in order to appreciate Jack. This is a wonderfully written and carefully crafted "meditation on the redemption and transcendence that love affords." The narrative consists of the inner thoughts and pondering of Jack. The timeline is not completely linear as it jumps back in time to explain and give more information on previous events. There are times in the novel where Jack's inner turmoil and musings can become a bit tiresome and repetitious. These sharply contrast with the time when Jack is charming and thoughtful. I did repeatedly want to ask Della why she is so attracted to him and determined to have a relationship with Jack.
Ultimately this is a love story of a very flawed man to a good woman.
The two are determined to be together, like any star-crossed lovers.
The story excels based on the depth that Robinson gives Jack's inner
dialogue and the insight and discernment about his many flaws in light
of all of Della's good traits.
Disclosure: My review copy was courtesy of Farrar, Straus and Giroux.