Killer Nashville Book of the Day

“Lila” by Marilynne Robinson / Reviewed by M. K. Sealy

Purchase “Lila” or read other reviews through Killer Nashville’s affiliate,*

Marilynne Robinson, Photo by Kelly Ruth Winter
Marilynne Robinson
Credit: Kelly Ruth Winter

In a breathtakingly stunning work of literary art, Pulitzer-prize winning Marilynne Robinson has graced readers with the third and final installment of novels set in Gilead, Iowa, the intricate town of Robinson’s design.

Written largely in a Joyce-like third-person stream-of-consciousness narrative, “Lila” follows its eponymous main character and the tender relationships she establishes with several characters, especially Gilead’s Reverend Ames.

While the style and language of the novel are masterpieces in and of themselves, it is the novel’s main character, Lila, who makes this work truly stunning. “Lila” leads the audience through the tumultuous early life of the savage little girl, hooking readers from the very first page as we follow her story into adulthood.

And while readers may assume that this is a novel that follows the cliché metamorphosis expected in a girl going from the “wild” into civilized society, this is not Robinson’s focus. Instead, and more importantly, the audience is made privy to Lila’s innermost struggles as the good wife of the town’s kind and gentle Reverend Ames.

Throughout the course of the novel, Lila must attempt to reconcile her strange past and her current state of being, neglecting the impulses that were once normal but that are no longer appropriate. Due to societal restrictions and the moral conflict of right and wrong, she must not fulfill these strange desires that are influenced by her past.

Already receiving mighty praise from Publishers Weekly and the Kirkus Review, Robinson’s newest masterpiece has been hailed as an instant American classic. “Lila” is a novel that requires full attention to its decadent language—Lila’s accent nearly drips off her tongue—and loping narrative, and it deserves a place on readers’ shelves immediately.

M. K. Sealy earned a Bachelor of Arts in English with an emphasis in literature from a Nashville university. She is a copyeditor for a Nashville-based publication, but also writes poetry, fiction, and is currently attempting a screenplay, all while working to obtain a Master of Education.  

(If you have a book you would like featured, send an ARC for consideration. The Killer Nashville Book Reviews are coordinated by Clay Stafford with the irreplaceable assistance of Meaghan Hill, Maria Giordano, Will Chessor, and credited guest reviewers. For more writer resources, visit us at

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Past Book Reviews

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