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Book Club Podcast: Jack by Marilynne Robinson

26 May 2022

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This week, we bring you the second episode of the Church Times Book Club podcast, a monthly series launched last month in association with the Church Times Festival of Faith and Literature.

This month, Sarah Meyrick talks to the Revd Stephen Brown, the Church Times film critic, about the title he chose for this month’s Book Club: Jack by Marilynne Robinson. It is the fourth novel in a series: the other books are GileadHome, and Lila (Book Club, 1 April 2016). But it is not necessary to know the other three books that precede it, Stephen says.

“In some ways Jack is easier to access than the other ones, he says. “The previous books have been about a later period, whereas now we’re coming the understanding of where Jack is coming from.

“It’s just immediately after the Second World War, it’s set in St Louis, Missouri, and it’s got a cast of Jack, who is a bit of a prodigal son, and his meeting with Della. She is black and he is white in a highly segregated society.”

Stephen has also written this month’s Church Times Book Club essay about the book. He writes: “Characters do, indeed, look through a glass darkly. Their perceptions are never wholly true. The preceding volumes furnished other (only partial) understandings of Jack.

Calvin’s notion of depravity was based on the warped mirrors of his time, which failed to give the full picture. Jack, through sins of commission, sees himself as hopelessly incapable of being what he is meant to be.”

Jack is published by Little, Brown at £8.99 (Church Times Bookshop £8.09); 978-0-349-01179-0.

Click the play button above to listen to this podcast. You can also listen to the Church Times Podcast on the Church Times app for iPhone and iPadSoundCloud, Apple Podcasts, Google Podcasts, Spotify, and most other podcast platforms. Music for the podcast is by Twisterium.


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