The Dearly Beloved is the first novel by Cara Wall; I am pretty certain that it will not be her last. The Dearly Beloved is the story of Charles, Lily, James and Nan. Each is an adult with a unique upbringing. Charles has faced many parental expectations; Lily has suffered much loss; James had a hardscrabble background, while life seemed sweet for Nan. While in college, Charles and Lily meet as do James and Nan.
Both Charles and James are “called” to the church; they have different approaches to God and activism, as demonstrated over the course of the book. Charles and James are appointed as co-ministers of a New York City church on lower Fifth Avenue. Their strengths and weaknesses come to light and are not the same. The reader watches as the two families’ lives unravel and knit over a period of many years.
This book includes discussion about what faith (or lack of it) means to each protagonist. I found these sections enhanced the novel for me.
This is not perhaps a perfect book, just as James, Charles, Nan and Lily are not prefect but it IS mighty good.
Many thanks to NetGalley and the publisher for this e galley in exchange for my honest review.
“Writing with restrained lyricism, Wall’s debut offers a kind of literary chamber music, combining the viewpoints of a quartet of characters across multiple decades and events. Finely drawn and paced and written with intense compassion…A moving, eloquent exploration of faith and its response to the refining fire of life’s challenges.”—KIRKUS REVIEWS (STARRED REVIEW)
“A rare and intellectually stimulating outing…By creating such well-defined characters, [Wall] is able to all the more effectively explore the role of faith, or its lack, in dealing with the pressures of marriage, child-rearing, and work.“—PUBLISHERS WEEKLY
“Underlying the very readable, honestly human propulsion of her characters’ lives in their near-entirety, Wall does a tricky thing quite well, exploring the facts of faith and love at both their most exalting and most trying.”—BOOKLIST
“Compelling…a sneakily addictive read.”—VOGUE