I reviewed The Dearly Beloved a while back. This morning I listened to an excellent podcast on the Bookreporter in which the author was interviewed. If you read, or are interested in this title, I recommend that you give the podcast a listen.
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 prefec