Jack, Marilynne Robinson

1. First lines. 2. Published 2020 Hachette Australia; Farrar, Straus and Giroux – Macmillan; Thorndike Press; Virago 3. Engaged-love-interracial [Public Domain] via Pixabay
Plot:

This is the story of Jack, a character from the Gilead series by Marilynne Robinson. He is living in St Louis, a self-confessed “bum” who has just been released from jail. He falls in love with African-American teacher Della, a love that is forbidden by law in 1950s Missouri. Jack is estranged from his father, a preacher in Iowa, and he is anguished by thoughts of how much harm can come to Della if the relationship continues, particularly when her family ostracize him.

Quotes:

“…feeling that old thrill of dread and compulsion, he knew circumstances had once again put him too close to a fragile thing. He said, “Look at the life we live, Della. I have to sneak over here in the dark just to steal a few words with you. Is that language, or is it noise?”

“A shabby fellow with a furtive air can be as gallant as the next man, depending on circumstances.”

My thoughts:

Highly recommended. Another exceptional character study to follow the first three in the Gilead series. This one’s all about Jack, son of an Iowan small-town preacher, living in segregated St Louis, and anguished by his love for a “coloured lady” Della. The writing perfectly portrays the attitudes of the times, when mixed marriages were against the law.

Book reviews:
  • TLS: “This is not a book that has been designed to please. Its pace is deliberately slow, and character is sometimes overwhelmed by a weight of significance that verges on the allegorical…. Those who are willing to grant the imaginative patience that this novel requires, however, will find themselves rewarded.”
  • The National Book Review: “… at times Jack meanders. For instance, the first scene is a tight six pages on the aftermath of Jack and Della’s disastrous first date The second scene is 70 pages of them talking in a graveyard. The universe of this novel could use a bit more fine-tuning. “
  • Kirkus: “Robinson’s storytelling relies heavily on dialogue, moreso than her other work, and involves only a few scene changes, as if first sketched out as a play. The story flows swiftly—and without a hint of inevitability—as Robinson explores a favorite theme, “guilt and grace met together.” An elegantly written proof of the thesis that love conquers all—but not without considerable pain.”
Other editions:
Available as Hardback, Paperback, Large Print, Digital Audio, Audio CD and ebook.

One comment

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.