“A moving portrait of love and friendship set against a backdrop of social change.” —The New York Times
“Here is the power of the novel in its simplest, richest for: bearing intimate witness to human beings grappling with their faith and falling in love. That Wall executes it so beautifully? Well, this is exactly why we read literary fiction…The best book about faith in recent memory.” —Entertainment Weekly (A-)
“When I began reading The Dearly Beloved I braced for piety, worried it might be a book only a believer could appreciate. Instead, I found myself carried along by Cara Wall’s luminous prose, and then by these characters and their stories. I saw myself in their doubts, in their hopes. There is no moralizing here, only empathy. When I arrived at the end I felt absolutely lifted by the spirit of the story.” —Mary Beth Keane, New York Times bestselling author of Ask Again, Yes
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.
APPLE BOOKS REVIEW
Cara Wall’s beautiful novel will make you feel better about humankind. The story follows two ministers, James and Charles, who are tapped to lead a church in New York City starting in the late ’60s. The two men forge a lifelong friendship built upon their shared spiritual and intellectual passions, but their wives have a much harder path. Nan is a preacher’s daughter who’s in her element organizing Sunday school and charity events; Lily is a fiercely independent academic and a nonbeliever. We felt enriched by our encounters with Wall’s complicated characters and their emotional journeys. The Dearly Beloved made us reflect on the thorny intersections between faith, disillusionment, despair, and hope.