Marilynne Robinson
Year of Publication
When I read it
June 2015
What I thought
Profoundly beautiful writing
Buy the book

Choice Highlights

Her bread was tender and her jelly was tart, and on rainy days she made cookies and applesauce.
She was an old woman, but she managed to look like a young woman with a ravaging disease.
He conserved syllables as if to conserve breath.
A tiny old lady named Ettie, whose flesh was the color of toadstools and whose memory was so eroded as to make her incapable of bidding, and who sat smiling by herself in the porch, took me by the hand once and told me that in San Francisco, before the fire, she had lived near a cathedral, and in the house opposite lived a Catholic lady who kept a huge parrot on her balcony. When the bells rang the lady would come out with a shawl over her head and she would pray, and the parrot would pray with her, the woman’s voice and the parrot’s voice, on and on, between clamor and clangor. After a while the woman fell ill, or at least stopped coming out on her balcony, but the parrot was still there, and it whistled and prayed and flirted its tail whenever the bells rang. The fire took the church and its bells and no doubt the parrot, too, and quite possibly the Catholic lady. Ettie waved it all away with her hand and pretended to sleep.
Their thick bodies pitched forward from the hips, and their arms and ankles were plump.
Sylvie always walked with her head down, to one side, with an abstracted and considering expression, as if someone were speaking to her in a soft voice.
It seemed to me that I made no impact on the world, and that in exchange I was privileged to watch it unawares.
For some time Sylvie peered up into the book with an expression of concentration and interest. Then she lowered the book a few inches and peered up at the ceiling with just the same expression.
I hated waiting. If I had one particular complaint, it was that my life seemed composed entirely of expectation.
They had some general notions of tact but very little practice in the use of it, and so they tended to err on the side of caution, to deal in indirection, and to succumb to embarrassment.
The force behind the movement of time is a mourning that will not be comforted.
I learned an important thing in the orchard that night, which was that if you do not resist the cold, but simply relax and accept it, you no longer feel the cold as discomfort.
I like the fastidious pleasure solitary people take in the smallest details of their small comforts.