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The Evolution of Thomas Hall

really liked it 4.0  ·  Rating Details ·  503 Ratings  ·  197 Reviews
Thomas Hall is a brilliant but brash young artist who has the talent of the old masters and an eye for color and women. But when he runs short of cash, he finds himself torn between illustrating a mural on the origins of man for a natural history museum--a tribute to Darwin--and illustrating the miracles of Jesus for a display inside a children's hospital called the Healin ...more
Hardcover, 456 pages
Published May 9th 2011 by Shadow Mountain (first published 2011)
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CompassBookRatings
Jun 11, 2011 CompassBookRatings rated it it was amazing
Overall Review: The Evolution Of Thomas Hall has a little bit of everything—art, music, romance, conflict, miracles, and, most importantly, a journey of faith. Thomas Hall is a talented artist and self-professed agnostic . . . the last person anyone would expect to accept a job painting a 90-foot mural of Christ's miracles for a new Catholic children's hospital. I found myself completely captivated by Thomas, Cass, Christina, and their story. Although this book isn't what you would classify as a ...more
Woodyandsandra
Dec 15, 2011 Woodyandsandra rated it it was amazing
This is an excellent book by Keith Merrill. His first. It reviews the claims of atheists and shows what things help the development of faith. The plot is about the change in perspective of a worldly artist and some of the great challenges are met in his life as he becomes involved with other people.
Denise
Feb 28, 2011 Denise rated it really liked it
The storyline in this book was very believable, and the author showed a lot of knowledge in so many different areas - art, medicine, sailing, to name a few. The characters are memorable, and the plot really kept me wanting to keep reading. An easy read, but well written! I recommend it.
Ann Canann
Mar 06, 2013 Ann Canann rated it liked it
Shelves: novel
I have avoided the Christian literature genre fearful that it would be too maudlin. This was not. Our Mormon women's book group finished the terrific history, "No Ordinary Time" by Doris Kearns Goodwin, the story of FDR and Eleanor Roosevelt about the home front in The second World War. "The Evolution of Thomas Hall" is our currant choice because Kieth Merrill is (or rather was) a home boy. We love his films and respect his family. His is the only Academy Award I have ever held.

This, his first b
...more
Stephanie Macdonald
Mar 02, 2011 Stephanie Macdonald rated it liked it
Shelves: first-reads
I really liked the author's writing style, it told the story both vividly and believably, well-written and wonderful detail. While I am not a Christian, Christina with stick with me. Faith comes out to play when we least expect it to, it is amazing how much we can learn from those around us. We can surprise ourselves when we are challenged and find answers in places we least expect. This book certainly inspires thinking, wondering, and reflection on one's own self and ways. This is not a preachy ...more
Mary
Sep 08, 2013 Mary rated it really liked it
As an artist and as a Christian, I enjoyed this book. Not an amazingly well-written, life-changing book for me, but I truly liked it. Danny remarked that I was smiling whenever I was reading it. So, that's a good thing. :) I wish more people I know had read this book so that I could talk to them about it!
Karey White
Feb 04, 2012 Karey White rated it really liked it
Shelves: whitney-2011
Found the story really interesting.
Charissa
Jul 26, 2015 Charissa rated it it was amazing
Beautifully written journey of one artist’s quest for meaning in his life. Thomas Hall is a famous commercial artist who has a bad case of entitlement. Life has been easy for him, molding him into an arrogant, brash snob. When Susan Cassidy (Cass) talks his agent into accepting a job to paint a mural in the Healing Wing of a Christian hospital, Thomas tells his agent flat out No. He doesn’t have time to waste doing menial art revolving around a God he doesn’t believe exists. As his Science museu ...more
Sarah
Aug 18, 2011 Sarah rated it really liked it
I was pretty psyched about this book about art and evolution by a Mormon/LDS writer. It was a fairly engaging and inspiring story, but I disliked the treatment of evolution and science in general. Scientists were either portrayed as giving up evolution as just a "theory" in exchange for religion (Dr. Hamilton) or as atheistic Darwin-worshipers (Dr. Hawker)...both positions being unfavorable of a consilience between science and religion. I was really hoping for a scientist character who was relig ...more
Kimberly Van De Graaff
Mar 31, 2014 Kimberly Van De Graaff rated it it was amazing
I was torn between 4 or 5 stars on this one. I read it in-between my King Arthur series by Bernard Cornwell. It was so different yet so refreshing to read something that ended with a mighty change of heart and hope. I think this is why I gave it 5 stars. Having a son who is an artist, I could relate to the character Thomas Hall. I found myself hoping for similar experiences for my son to change from drawing the "cartoons" to something more demanding and life changing.

Merrill contrasts the feeli
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Jane
Jun 18, 2011 Jane rated it really liked it
Shelves: whitney-2011
Terrible cover. Great book. Starts slow, but have faith and give it a little time- it will draw you in.

I was really surprised by how well-written this book is. I mean, this thing is literature. The author does a great job of introducing all these elements, characters and details that may seem frustratingly random at the start, but come together beautifully in the book.

Before I started reading it I was a bit concerned with the exploration of evolution in this book- I get irritated when people sla
...more
Natalie
Jan 10, 2015 Natalie rated it it was amazing
I deeply enjoyed this book. The end gave me that "feel good" feeling and kept me thinking long after the book was finished. It was another reminder to me of how much our Heavenly Father is there and aware of us in the minute details of our lives. Our lives can be changed simply by acknowledging he is there and he is real. Highly recommend.

I may have been partial to it because it is set in San Francisco and after recently visiting there I could picture the areas in the book vividly. That being sa
...more
Michael Knudsen
Oct 06, 2011 Michael Knudsen rated it really liked it
First of all, what an inspiration to read a first novel from a seventy-one–year-old man! It’s never too late to get started if you’ve got the itch to write but have ignored it or procrastinated (having just published my own first novel at the age of 44 puts me in that camp). Of course, Kieth Merrill has been involved in many creative projects throughout his life, so it’s no big surprise that he would eventually find his way to the medium of the novel.

And what a debut it is. As a reader of ficti
...more
Patti
Sep 12, 2014 Patti rated it really liked it
By the gentle but forceful arm-twisting of my friend Nancy B., she forced me to buy, and therefore read, “The Evolution of Thomas Hall”. She said, “I loved it, and my book club all loved it!” Then she added, “And its half price.”
Ok. I bought it, even though it’s a far cry from my usual reading rut.

Its author Keith Merrill’s first attempt at writing, although I was familiar with him as an Academy Award winning movie director/producer. The story was slow to gain my interest, (sometimes my brain w
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E.A.
Aug 24, 2011 E.A. rated it it was amazing
Shelves: fiction
I borrowed THE EVOLUTION OF THOMAS HALL from my mom because she wanted someone to read it so she could talk about it. Though I was interested in it, I wasn't sure if I would enjoy it as much as she did. I am glad I had the opportunity to read this book. It was a great book that really made me think about religion and science and the balance of them.

The story follows the artist Thomas Hall. He is a proclaimed agnostic, because he doesn't believe there is a deity but doesn't feel like he wants to
...more
Aimee
Jun 17, 2011 Aimee rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Keith Merrill is an academy award winning screen writer. One would THINK that would qualify him to be an excellent writer. Apparently Sherri Dew requested him to write a book repeatedly. So I had high hopes for his first novel. I was....disappointed? Let me explain. Apparently when writing for the screen you MUST use a lot of technical jargon. From the exact color that the artist Tomas Hall saw in the eyes of the people around him to the type of pencil he used, the highway he traveled on to the ...more
Cindy
Jun 20, 2011 Cindy rated it it was amazing
Thomas Hall is an arrogant, self absorbed, extremely talented artist (we're talking Micheangelo) who has taken his God-given gift for granted, not only failing to acknowledge from whence it came, but failing to realize that where much is given much is required. He has a huge sense of entitlement that is in conflict with any seed of humility that might be lying dormant. But as we all know, the Lord is in control, and occasionally He sees fit to compel us to be humble for His greater purposes. And ...more
Shannon
Aug 24, 2016 Shannon rated it liked it
Kieth Merrill has undertaken a difficult premise for this book and succeeded pretty well in writing a convincing, modern-day conversion to Christianity story without falling into the trap of syrupy sentimentality. At least not very much. The first two-thirds of the book unfolds a strong presentation of a gifted artist facing financial and artistic problems which begin to collide and coalesce into the issue of atheism vs faith in God. A concurrent plot line concerns a little girl who is badly inj ...more
Laura
Feb 27, 2013 Laura rated it really liked it
I liked this book far more than I thought I would. It was written by a movie director, and so it reads like a movie. I had a hard time getting into it at first because he kept switching from scene to scene in little snippets and I couldn't make any sense of it. Once I got into it, however, it was a fun read. This story tells about a young, selfish, conceited but talented artist who slowly changes over time as he is repeatedly humbled and given unique experiences to strengthen his faith in God.

T
...more
Alexia Chantel
May 06, 2011 Alexia Chantel rated it it was amazing
This book is a beautiful emotional journey that will bring you to tears.

Much like the main character Merrill is an artist who weaves together the lives of multiple characters that come from different backgrounds and situations. In the forefront you have the slightly eccentric artist with a difficult childhood and his estranged aging father along with a young injured girl and the woman who finds herself responsible for her. Throughout the book the main characters lives are touched by many. Some a
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Loni Spendlove
Jun 09, 2011 Loni Spendlove rated it it was amazing
I'm GUILTY...of judging a book by it's cover! I'll admit that I took one look at the cover and wrote it off, but through fortunate circumstance (and possibly a little bribery), I took the bait and what an **incredible** discovery!!

It was easy to dislike Thomas Hall in the beginning: an egocentric artist whose fundamental beliefs wavered like the tides. But his personal "evolution" is necessitated by two dichotomous projects he is hired to complete, challenging everything he never thought of...a
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Wendy
Sep 05, 2011 Wendy rated it it was amazing
Shelves: fiction-lds
I received an advance reader's edition from Deseretbook to review.

The beginning maybe had a bit too much description that was hard to get through, but the rest of the book made up for it.

I thoroughly enjoyed reading the book. It was obviously well researched and I loved the more sophisticated/ intellectual parts. This was the most interesting and captivating LDS book I have read since "The Christmas Jar". Kieth Merrill's varied knowledge is impressive, everything from art, accidents, police pr
...more
Katrina
Mar 03, 2014 Katrina rated it liked it
I'm glad I finished it and really enjoyed seeing how much Thomas changes (especially since he was so despicable). But... I had a hard time with Merrill 's writing style. I can totally see why he's a good screenwriter, but I'm not convinced that always translates into being a good author. His constant sentence fragments were very distracting to me and made the story feel choppy, as did the weird transitions between present and past. And I had a hard time visualizing most of the characters because ...more
Adrienne
Aug 30, 2013 Adrienne rated it it was amazing
One of the best books I have read in a long time. Hands down in my TOP 5 list.

What I loved the most was how coming to know Christ was a process for Thomas - an up and down, back and forth process. Even when he thought he believed in Christ, he still had moments of doubt and fear. That's the truth right there. It is like that for most everyone. Often it is portrayed as an "aha" moment and all of a sudden you are a perfect follower of Christ. Life is a process. Learning is a process. Makes sense
...more
Craig Everett
Jan 29, 2012 Craig Everett rated it really liked it
I was thoroughly entertained by this book. The pace was great and the writing was outstanding overall.

Both the character arc of Thomas Hall and the general storyline were somewhat predictable. In fact, the story was quite reminiscent of The Silver Chalice by Thomas Costain. Nevertheless, it was a compelling (and very inspiring) tale of the spiritual awakening and redemption of a gifted artist. His search for the face of Jesus parallels the search for Savior that each of us must make.

I had a few
...more
Mkingsford
Jul 15, 2012 Mkingsford rated it really liked it
This is another title that I started with in book form. Couldn't get past chapter 2. Got the CD's, all 11 of them and have been completely entertained from CD #1. The reader has a great voice. You are never bored.

Thomas is an artist who has been asked to create a mural for a chidren's wing of a hospital in the Bay Area. The new wing is being donated by an annonymous donor, who is very religious. Thomas is not realigious at all. The new wing is called The Healing Place.

This is a journey that Thom
...more
Hollie Robb
Jul 09, 2011 Hollie Robb rated it really liked it
Shelves: fiction
I liked how Merrill pointed out a lot of flaws in Darwin's Theory of Evolution. My question have always been since I was in grade school was: if we came from monkeys then why are there still monkeys, my conclusion is that I am not a Monkey.

I thought that there was a lot of stuff in the book that just didn't need to be in there, but he ties it all up in the end of the book.

You can tell that Merrill is a director, and not a novelist. The book it's self is actually blocked into scenes, more like
...more
Catharine
Aug 04, 2013 Catharine rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: everyone
Recommended to Catharine by: Laura Guynn
A few months ago for book club we read "The Case for Christianity" by CS Lewis. It's a very short book of CS Lewis sharing his conversion from Atheism to Christianity and the arguments that led him to it. This book was chosen as a sort of follow-up to that book. It is the story of Thomas Hall and his journey from agnosticism to his belief in Christ. I loved the way that Merrill told the story through the eyes of an artist, Thomas Hall.
I initially began this book a little skeptical that an academ
...more
Carolyn
Oct 20, 2011 Carolyn rated it it was amazing
I truly enjoyed this book. I found a depth of writing I don't usually see in LDS authors. Yet, this was not an LDS book as such. This was about Thomas Hall's "evolution" from agnostic to beginning believer without definite Christian church boundaries. Many different belief systems move Thomas Hall toward finally opening his eyes and heart to Christianity.

Merrill used a two-sided device for this story. 'Evolution' was about his personal change of heart, but also was a diagram of the theory of evo
...more
Luisa
Mar 21, 2012 Luisa rated it really liked it
I really liked this book... like a lot. The writing style was unique and interesting. The characters were believable and relatable. The spiritual aspect was really great and set a great standard for Christian writing. I really enjoyed it.

Favorite Quotes:


Impossibilities are impossible only as thinking makes them so.

There are no absolutes. No such thing as ‘right’ or ‘wrong’. Morality is relative. There is a law or rule of fair play and decent behavior and morality, that is as much a law of the
...more
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Kieth Merrill is an American filmmaker. He won an Oscar for his documentary "The Great American Cowboy" (1973). He has also made feature films for the LDS chuch, including "Legacy" (1990) and "The Testaments: Of One Fold and One Shepherd" (2000).

"The Evolution of Thomas Hall" is his debut novel.
More about Kieth Merrill...

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