The Dearly Beloved by Cara Wall
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.
August 13th, 2019
Family Saga Fiction
I wasn’t sure what book should follow The Most Fun We Ever Had (you can read my full review HERE) but I knew I wanted to read another family saga. The Dearly Beloved by Cara Wall fit into this category so I decided to give it a go.
Wall introduces us to two couples, Charles and Lily and James and Nan. The beginning of the book gives us a rich background for each character starting from their childhoods through early adulthood. These couples lives then become intertwined when Charles and James become pastors at a New York City Presbyterian church. Over the years we see them struggle with their faith, beliefs, marriage, parenthood, and friendships.
This book is a deep dive into these four characters, who navigate many joys and heartaches over the decades we follow along with them. I loved seeing their evolving relationships with both themselves and one another and having the rich backstory to these multi-dimensional characters made this storyline even more rewarding.
While there are religious themes in The Dearly Beloved, Wall presents them without judgment or bias toward any belief system and the writing never feels preachy. I appreciated that it showed the struggles of all four characters at some point within their own belief systems. I highly recommend this one and it definitely makes my favorites of 2019 list!