The Dearly Beloved
The Dearly Beloved
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Annotation: In a novel that spans decades, the lives of two young couples become intertwined when the husbands are appointed co-ministers of a venerable New York City church in the 1960s.
Catalog Number: #193099
Format: Publisher's Hardcover
No other formats available
Copyright Date: 2019
Edition Date: 2019
Pages: 342 pages
Availability: Available
ISBN: 1-9821045-2-X
ISBN 13: 978-1-9821045-2-8
Dewey: Fic
LCCN: 2019000251
Dimensions: 22 cm.
Language: English
Kirkus Reviews
Molded by their backgrounds and childhood experiences, the individual members of two couples adopt b
Starred Review for Kirkus Reviews
Molded by their backgrounds and childhood experiences, the individual members of two couples adopt beliefs which will define them—until they are confronted by a heart-wrenching challenge.Writing with restrained lyricism, Wall's debut—15 years in the making—offers a kind of literary chamber music, combining the viewpoints of a quartet of characters across multiple decades and events. Charles, the son of a Harvard professor, is a man reliant on research and insight. James, whose drunken father was broken by war, will grow up to be full of impatience and the urge to action. Nan, the daughter of a Southern minister, has learned patience and generosity while Lily, orphaned at 15, is happiest when withdrawn. Charles' unswerving love for Lily is matched by James' determination to marry Nan even though neither couple seems a natural fit. When both men opt for a life in the church, Nan is better equipped for the role of clergyman's wife than independent, brittle Lily, who feels no obligation to conform. The four eventually connect when Charles and James are offered the joint ministry of Third Presbyterian Church in Greenwich Village. Old-fashioned in tone and subject matter, the story is set in the mid-20th century and evokes some of the stifling social norms of the era. Wall has a very precise sensibility, and there is no escaping the sense of tidy predetermination in the clear, fixed positions of her four figures and their various oppositions, seen through the debates, struggles, rejections, and consolations that arise among them. Finely drawn and paced and written with intense compassion, the novel shifts ground with a late development that will test and push forward each of the four, leading to a conclusion consistent with Wall's grace and control.A moving, eloquent exploration of faith and its response to the refining fire of life's challenges.
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Kirkus Reviews
Reading Level: 7.0
Interest Level: 9+

“This gentle, gorgeously written book may be one of my favorites ever.” —Jenna Bush Hager (A Today show “Read with Jenna” Book Club Selection!)

“A thoughtful, beautiful multigenerational novel about love, God, jealousy, and friendship.” —Elizabeth Gilbert, author of Eat, Pray, Love

“A moving portrait of love and friendship set against a backdrop of social change.” —The New York Times Book Review (Editor’s Choice)

“Here is the power of the novel in its simplest, richest form: bearing intimate witness to human beings grappling with their faith and falling in love. That Wall executes it so beautifully? Well, this is exactly why we read literary fiction...The best book about faith in recent memory.” —Entertainment Weekly (A-)

Charles and Lily, James and Nan. They meet in Greenwich Village in 1963 when Charles and James are jointly hired to steward the historic Third Presbyterian Church through turbulent times. Their personal differences however, threaten to tear them apart.

Charles is destined to succeed his father as an esteemed professor of history at Harvard, until an unorthodox lecture about faith leads him to ministry. How then, can he fall in love with Lily—fiercely intellectual, elegantly stern—after she tells him with certainty that she will never believe in God? And yet, how can he not?

James, the youngest son in a hardscrabble Chicago family, spent much of his youth angry at his alcoholic father and avoiding his anxious mother. Nan grew up in Mississippi, the devout and beloved daughter of a minister and a debutante. James’s escape from his desperate circumstances leads him to Nan and, despite his skepticism of hope in all its forms, her gentle, constant faith changes the course of his life.

In The Dearly Beloved, we follow these two couples through decades of love and friendship, jealousy and understanding, forgiveness and commitment. Against the backdrop of turbulent changes facing the city and the church’s congregation, these four forge improbable paths through their evolving relationships, each struggling with uncertainty, heartbreak, and joy. A poignant meditation on faith and reason, marriage and children, and the ways we find meaning in our lives, Cara Wall’s The Dearly Beloved is a gorgeous, wise, and provocative novel that is destined to become a classic.

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