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Author: Cara Wall
Publisher: Simon & Schuster
Published: August 13, 2019
Book Description: 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
Rating: 4 Stars
Review: The Dearly Beloved is a debut novel by Cara Hall, and is so wonderfully rich. This is literary fiction at its best. The story begins with Charles raised by a Harvard academic and his mother, attends college of course at Harvard. He decides to spend his graduate years studying theology. He soon meets Lily who has lost both her parents and with that her faith. Charles loves Lily without any doubt in his mind. We then meet James who wants to minister but still questions does God really exist who falls in love with Nan the daughter of a minister. This book follows their journey as newly minted couples and the coming together working at a church in New York.
The crux of this story takes place in the 1960’s, and while this does not feel very historical, there are moments of this story that really show the time that they were in. These four very different people do not always mesh especially Lily and Nan, but when crisis occurs, even though the relationships are questioned, they discover their friendship is infallible. This novel starts off very sweet, but quickly takes on very difficult topics and I think Wall handled this beautifully.
I really enjoyed reading this story and found this easy to read. I wanted to savor this wonderful writing and this story and was just a little bit sad when it was over.
Thank you NetGalley and Simon & Schuster for and Advanced Reader’s Copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.