Is there no balm in Gilead? (Jeremiah 8:22) THERE IS MUCH MORE than balm in this Gilead, the long-awaited second novel by Marilynne Robinson, which is finding its way into thousands of beach bags during this, its first American summer. The novel is also much more than a rambling, poignant tale told by John Ames, an aging pastor, in the form of a 247-page letter to a six-year-old son he never expected to have and regrets he won't live long enough to watch grow into manhood.
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