The Evolution of Thomas Hall
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The Evolution of Thomas Hall

4.0 of 5 stars 4.00  ·  rating details  ·  355 ratings  ·  156 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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Stephanie
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
Kimberly Van De Graaff
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...more
Ann Canann
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
CompassBookRatings
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
LeeAnn
I think I just found my latest favorite book. This is a wonderful book for those struggling to understand The question of Why God? This follows Thomas hall's development from being unsure of the existence of God to knowing how real He is. Excellent, well written book. It is not a scientific book, but it deals with human growth toward God.

One of my favorite parts is when Thomas Hall remembers that in Charles Darwin's book toward the end, Darwin notes how he no longer sees or enjoys beauty. It has...more
Katrina
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
Woodyandsandra
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.
Mary
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!
Denise
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.
Karey White
Found the story really interesting.
Luisa
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
Alexia Chantel
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...more
Cindy
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
Adrienne
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
Wendy
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
Laura
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
Mkingsford
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
Loni Spendlove
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...more
Aimee
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
Michael Knudsen
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
Hollie Robb
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
Sarah
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
Cindy
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 "page-turner,"...more
Craig Everett
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
E.A.
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
Carolyn
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
Catharine
Aug 04, 2013 Catharine rated it 5 of 5 stars
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
Janet
I couldn't put this book down. Merrill wrote a great story with full characters and detail that brought it all to life. That alone is enough for me to recommend the book to my friends, but this novel goes further, connecting the story to the reader on a personal level. Merrill introduces us to a Thomas who is unlikable, a complete narcissist, a jerk. I was all prepared for him to be the character I would love to hate. Tagging along on his evolution was a wonderful experience that helped me see a...more
Jane
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
Margaret Hardie
Loved, loved this book. I felt I was evolving right along with Thomas. The author took me on the same journey - sort of desperate despair without the character knowing he was in despair until later, but I felt the change right along with him and as he changed I evolved too. Best of all, I was happy at the end of the book. I like a book that does that.
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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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