Robin's Reviews > The Dearly Beloved

The Dearly Beloved by Cara Wall
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it was amazing
bookshelves: book-group-worthy, family-dynamics, best-of-2019, kindle-drc

This is a stunning debut novel taking place in the 1950s and 1960s featuring Charles, who has a steadfast belief in God; his wife Lily, resolute in her non-belief; James, who joins the ministry to do worldly good; and his wife Nan, devout and sweet. Their lives become entangled when Charles and James are hired as co-pastors at a New York City Presbyterian church, and over the years struggle through faith and beliefs, and marriage and friendship conflicts.
I don’t often gravitate towards books with religious themes, but the author's writing was so engaging, and she was so fair in presenting both sides without judgment or bias toward any belief system that I didn't want to stop reading about these people and their church families. It also had a satisfying epilogue. And yes, a few tissues were needed to get through the last few chapters. This fabulous novel is an easy choice for my best books of 2019 list.

This is a perfect selection for book groups as there is something for everyone to love with much fodder for discussion. It is very reminiscent of Wallace Stegner’s "Crossing to Safety" and also reminded me of Susanna Daniel’s "Stiltsville," both excellent portrayals of long marriages. I would also recommend this to fans of Ann Patchett and Elizabeth Strout.

4-9-19 - Updated information: I just found the original letter sent by the publisher that states Cara Wall spent more than 15 years writing this book and based it on 1st Presbyterian church in NYC, of which she is a long-time member.

Thanks to the publisher, Simon & Schuster, for the early galley copy (publication date August 2019).
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Reading Progress

March 10, 2019 – Shelved as: to-read
March 10, 2019 – Shelved
March 27, 2019 – Started Reading
March 28, 2019 – Shelved as: family-dynamics
March 28, 2019 – Shelved as: book-group-worthy
March 28, 2019 – Finished Reading
November 9, 2019 – Shelved as: best-of-2019
November 9, 2019 – Shelved as: kindle-drc

Comments Showing 1-4 of 4 (4 new)

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message 1: by Dale (new) - added it

Dale Harcombe Great review Robin.

Robin Dale wrote: "Great review Robin."
Thank you. Do read it as it is fabulous.

message 3: by Nicole (new) - added it

Nicole Thank you for checking all the right boxes: Crossing to Safety, Patchett, Strout - definitely sounds like a book for me. I’ll also check out Stiltsville.

Robin Thank you. I don't think you'll be disappointed in Dearly Beloved. And yes, Stilstville is also good and the setting is a major part of the story.

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