Pulitzer Prize winner Marilynne Robinson (Gilead) alights for the third time on Gilead, Iowa, fictional home of venerable country preacher John Ames. In Lila, she throws open the shutters on Lila Ames, John's much younger wife, giving readers a view of the hardscrabble life that led Lila to Gilead and unexpected love.

Lila's origins are a mystery, even to her. She barely recalls the shadowy time she spent starving with her family before a drifter named Doll took her in a mercy kidnapping. After Doll nursed Lila back to health, the two roamed the country with migrant workers in the days before the stock market crashed. Doll protected Lila as best she could, and years later, a toughened, mistrustful Lila came under the protection of John Ames, as gentle and learned as Doll was unschooled and coarse. In the in-between years lie a knife, a house filled with broken lives and the loss of any innocence Lila had remaining.

The path through Lila's memory is hardly straight, but if linear plotting is the victim of its meandering, the final effect is worth the loss: a life taken down to scrambled pieces, which Robinson clicks together in an order that emphasizes meaning over chronology. This twisted time line clearly conveys that Lila has run a maze rather than lived a life, hitting dead end after dead end before emerging so suddenly into daylight that she cannot trust her own blind, brilliant luck. With this heartbreaking and glorious addition to her series, Robinson gives Lila the attention she deserves and continues to teach readers what it means to come home. --Jaclyn Fulwood, blogger at Infinite Reads

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