The Dearly Beloved

The Dearly Beloved Traces Two Married Couples Whose Lives Become Entangled When The Husbands Become Copastors At A Famed New York City Congregation In The SCharles And Lily, James And Nan They Meet In Greenwich Village In 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, Cara Wall Reminds Us Of The Power Of The Novel In Its Simplest, Richest Form Bearing Intimate Witness To Human Beings Grappling With Their Faith And Falling In Love, Entertainment Weekly, A As 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, Wall Offers A Poignant Meditation On Faith And Reason, Marriage And Children, And The Ways We Find Meaning In Our Lives The Dearly Beloved Is A Gorgeous, Wise, And Provocative Novel That Is Destined To Become A ClassicThe Dearly Beloved

Cara Wall is a graduate of the Iowa Writers Workshop and Stanford University While at Iowa, Wall taught fiction writing in the undergraduate creative writing department as well as at the Iowa Young Writers Studio in her capacity of founder and inaugural director She went on to teach middle school English and history and has been published by Glamour, Salon, and the San Francisco Chronicle She

[Epub] The Dearly Beloved By Cara Wall –
  • Paperback
  • 384 pages
  • The Dearly Beloved
  • Cara Wall
  • English
  • 09 June 2017
  • 9781982104535

10 thoughts on “The Dearly Beloved

  1. says:

    A tremendously well done first novel Two couples whose lives will become entwined for better and worse Charles, whose faith in God is all inclusive and Lily his wife who after the loss of her parents, no longer believes Jan, a pastors daughter, whose faith is the mainstay of her life, and her husband James, who wants to change things, so becomes a pastor for this purpose One church, two pastors.This is not a subject I m usually drawn to, liturgical matters and this is a subject that is front and center It is the struggles of these four very different people that for me was the draw, characters that one finds real and honest How they change with the very real trials and tribulations of life Marriage, Parenthood, community needs, pastoral services, friendship and adjustments The character I had the hardest time accepting, Lily, would prove to be the strongest and by books end one I greatly admired Their are moments of joy, moments of sadness The writing is mature, the subject matter including autism, ones faith, doubt and hopes are all gently explored In fact that is the feel of this book, a gentleness in the portrayal of flawed individuals who learn through time to make the many adjustments life often asks of us.ARC from Simon and Schuster.

  2. says:

    This novel tackles several questions that engage me What possesses someone to be called to the ministry Can a couple with opposite beliefs find happiness We meet Charles and Lily, James and Nan, two ministers and their wives We are provided their backgrounds so that we get a true sense of what has molded them into the people they are They re not at all similar, which makes it even interesting as they work to find ways to work together It s a book about relationships between spouses, families, co workers It s about what we share with others and how much of us they can really understand The writing here is so lush, it is meant to be savored It seems so polished it s hard to realize this is a debut novel It s got to be really hard to write about religion and why how people believe and make the reader understand Wall does it Now, I consider myself religious and this book really resonated with me I loved the points made about faith vs love, about what faith provided to those that believed, about how we are tested and how our faith holds up or doesn t Because I had recommended this for my church s book club, I found two interviews with Wall She states that the book is about faith, not religion, and the work it takes to become empathetic It s a raw, honest examination of the way we overcome our differences We talk a lot about empathywithout really talking about how hard that is and how worth it it is You can accept someone without diminishing yourself It s not a sacrifice to accept somebody else I m also so glad the book was written in an omniscient point of view so that we know exactly what each of the characters is thinking It would never have worked to have their beliefs filtered through another character s perceptions I d be willing to bet that each reader will have a favorite character Mine was Charles I loved his faith, his hope, his charity I felt his pain and loved the lessons he learned.Ok, guess I ve gushed enough You can certainly see how much I loved this book Another of my favorite books of 2019.

  3. says:

    This one sneaks up on you with its gorgeous, contemplative story which grabs hold of your mind and your heart Wow, how I loved this Love is the enjoyment of something The feeling of wanting something deeply, of wanting nothing Our love of God is not as important as our faith in God Love wanes Faith cannot One can have faith and anger, faith and hate One can believe deeply and still rail against God, still blame God In fact, if one can hate God it is a sign of deep faith because you cannot hate and at the same time doubt God s existence James and Charles meet in 1963 when they are both interviewing to become the minister of an historic church in Greenwich Village They couldn t be opposite from one another Charles views his call as one to guide his congregation, to support them and help them understand events of the world, while James views his as a call to action, that God is served by changing the world.The two are hired as co ministers, which seems to suit them fine, and they become immensely close The same cannot be said of their wives James wife, Nan, a minister s daughter, understands the role of the church in their lives, while Lily, Charles wife, has a definitive lack of faith shaped by a childhood tragedy that causes her to withdraw, even resent at times, the life her husband has been called to Nan immerses herself in the church, Lily wants as far away from it as possible The Dearly Beloved follows the four through decades of friendship, love, loyalty, resentment, jealousy, and of course, faith The challenges of the world, the tragedies and triumphs of their own lives will test and reaffirm their faith through the years.This book was simply amazing I cannot believe that this is Wall s debut novel It s not a book that requires any knowledge of religion or faith it s an exploration of how faith means different things to different people, and how it appears and disappears at different times in our lives.James and Charles are the easier characters to embrace I found Nan and Lily difficult to like for a while, until I understood their place in the story and realized the complexities Wall bestowed upon her characters.I honestly think this is one of the best books I ve read this year It s one of those that feels like the great American novel, just a triumph of storytelling That s something I don t find too often these days.See all of my reviews at can follow me on Instagram at

  4. says:

    4.5 starsBeginning in the 1960s, one of my favorite time periods, this is a story somewhat reminiscent of Crossing to Safety by Wallace Stegner We follow two couples for many decades Charles and James who co pastor a church, and their wives, Lily and Nan Charles is the deep thinker, the pastor whose strength is counseling parishioners who are struggling with difficulties James is the activist who believes his job is to stir the parishioners into action to right the world s injustices Lily is the atheist wife who is non traditional and has zero interest in being friends with Nan or becoming involved in the life of the parish Nan is the woman of faith who is a do gooder and is perfectly content being a traditional pastor s wife who longs for nothing than to be a wife and mother These two women personify the changing role of women through the turbulent 1960s But what happens when life doesn t quite work out as you expected Life and relationships are messy Tragedy and losses occur This character driven novel doesn t offer easy solutions but thoughtfully examines the complexities of life, and how our beliefs, life experiences, and background affects the way we relate to others, and how we weather the storms of life Who has grit, and why This story is beautifully written and gives the reader much to ponder The characters are realistically complex and my feelings changed about each of them as I read.This was a buddy read with Marialyce and is definitely one of our better discussion books We had many thoughtful conversations and I m so glad I had her to talk with as we read The last 20% was a tad too pat and predictable, thus the 4.5 stars For a debut it was amazing and I m looking forward to seeing what the author does next i received a copy of this book via Netgalley in exchange for an honest review For our duo review of this book

  5. says:

    4.5 stars Because only in the quality of your struggle with one another will you learn anything about yourself There are some books that make you think for a moment or two and then those thoughts run off forgotten as they become just another book read There are some books, however, that keep you thinking and wondering for days, weeks, or even months after you have finished reading them Such was this story.This is a story of four people, three of which are people of faith, while one is a non believer Charles and James are new ministers landing a position at the same church, who together with their wives Nan and Lily try to forge forward in a religious life for the three of them, and a life bereft of God for one of them Nan is an affirmed believer in God while Lily, the product of the early tragic death of her parents, is a nonbeliever The dilemma seems to be how can one reconcile being married to a minister when you do not believe in what he does There is a large amount of interplay between the characters and as the story continues the tragedies of life invade the marriages and one would think a faith in the almighty would be enough to carry one through But is it This story had currents swirling beneath the surface of its words So many themes were touched upon and the reader was left to understand and find their own explanation of events and happenings So many questions were asked of the reader Can one be married to someone who doesn t share your religious belief Is God the only way to peace in life Is it possible to be too good, to mask your feelings in an attempt to please God Is tragedy in life a way that God shows you a way through it, or is it the human spirit, often resilient that offers one peace and a way forward Can marriage work when up against adversity What really attracts one person to another even though they are as different as night and day This was a wonderful book that had great components and would be absolutely perfect for a book club discussion group There was much to fathom here, and much to ponder as you read about the journey these two couples embarked upon as they tried to both understand their position in the world and the way forward in life I definitely recommend this story for all the aforementioned reasons Thank you to Cara Wall, Simon and Schuster, and NetGalley for a copy of this book.A book that sparks talk and makes people want to discuss all its points and nuances, is one that is a trip to the world of reading and loving what an author s words can do to a story In this book, Jan and I had quite a few talks that led to other talks, and then to of the same We both came away pretty much in awe of the feelings that this book evoked in the both of us To see our duo reviews

  6. says:

    I know I m the minority for this rating, but this book did not speak to me I went into it with such high hopes because of the glowing reviews and I had heard from others I did not feel connected in anyway to the 4 main characters, I thought they were all very flat I would have not finished this but was too far into to give up I did not feel the premise of the novel was realistic at all The marriage between Charles and Lilly seemed forced I cannot believe that a man called to preach could marry an atheistand then James not fully believing in God but joining the ministry because he felt there was to life and he wanted to find it I felt it just floated from year to year without any real substance Anyway, this book just wasn t for me, but I am glad others have found joy from it.

  7. says:

    The way people described this as beautiful and character driven, I was almost sure it wouldn t be for me That I would find it a slog, and be bored But instead, I find myself bereft at it being over I d describe this as glimpses of love and life and friendship and God The writing is amazing and I took photos of multiple passages The people are real and flawed and phenomenal So, instead of an unpopular opinion, like I thought I would have, I m joining my voice with the chorus James and Nan and Lily and Charles will stay with me, for a long time.

  8. says:

    4.5 stars A great book to kick start my 2020 book challenge This book was wonderful in that it creeps into your thoughts as you get to know the characters better, it would be easy to dismiss this book due to it s themes of god and religion but that was the power of this book, the different perspectives and the humanity of the characters making for a real and thought provoking read The fact that these characters end up being bound together with all their personal differences individually grappling with ideas of belief and faith all while navigating the complexities of everyday life s challenges and obstacles made for an unique and interesting read.

  9. says:

    This is a stunning debut novel taking place in the 1950s and 1960s featuring Charles, who has a steadfast belief in God his wife Lily, resolute in her non belief James, who joins the ministry to do worldly good and his wife Nan, devout and sweet Their lives become entangled when Charles and James are hired as co pastors at a New York City Presbyterian church, and over the years struggle through faith and beliefs, and marriage and friendship conflicts.I don t often gravitate towards books with religious themes, but the author s writing was so engaging, and she was so fair in presenting both sides without judgment or bias toward any belief system that I didn t want to stop reading about these people and their church families It also had a satisfying epilogue And yes, a few tissues were needed to get through the last few chapters This fabulous novel is an easy choice for my best books of 2019 list.This is a perfect selection for book groups as there is something for everyone to love with much fodder for discussion It is very reminiscent of Wallace Stegner s Crossing to Safety and also reminded me of Susanna Daniel s Stiltsville, both excellent portrayals of long marriages I would also recommend this to fans of Ann Patchett and Elizabeth Strout.4 9 19 Updated information I just found the original letter sent by the publisher that states Cara Wall spent than 15 years writing this book and based it on 1st Presbyterian church in NYC, of which she is a long time member Thanks to the publisher, Simon Schuster, for the early galley copy publication date August 2019.

  10. says:

    This is a strong debut by Cara Wall She can definitely write Her metaphors are beautiful, and her characters are multi dimensional and complex This book felt relevant even though the story takes place in the 50s and 60s Set against the backdrop of the Civil Rights Movement and The Vietnam War, The Dearly Beloved follows two married couples, Charles and Lily, and James and Nan In the beginning chapters, we are given a rich and rewarding backstory for each character separately, from their childhoods, to their years at university, and to each couple meeting and falling in love The main focus of this novel deals with religion, but it never feels preachy or wishy washy Charles and James are asked to co minister the Third Presbyterian Church in Greenwich Village in 1963 Even though the two men come from different backgrounds, they share a love of helping people The unlikely pair become fast friends As for Lily and Nan, well that s a different story For some readers, you might have a strong dislike for Lily Even though she s married to a minister, she is an atheist She suffered a traumatic childhood her parents died in a car crash when she was 15 Lily is a non believer and makes no apologies for it Nan is the opposite of Lily She had a perfect childhood and Lily is quick to judge Nan for that Lily goes to great lengths to protect herself from getting hurt again She keeps love and friendship at bay Towards the end of the novel, Lily becomes a much sensitive and vulnerable individual once she becomes a mother I really liked her point of the view the best even though she s not warm and fuzzy She seemed the most self aware I really liked this novel I don t think it was perfect though I can t really pinpoint what left me wanting but overall, this story took me places I wasn t expecting to go Halfway through the novel, Charles begins to question his faith, and this is when the story really came alive for me Even though he is a man of God and conviction, he is left with uncertainty and hopelessness I think he is the character readers are most going to relate to and root for He is the heart and soul of this novel Thank you, Simon Schuster for sending me a free ARC, in exchange for an honest review Release date August 13, 2019.

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