The Dearly Beloved
Starting this book, I had doubts. Finishing it, I had none. THE DEARLY BELOVED by Cara Wall is a brilliant character study of four people – two couples whose lives become entwined when the men, Presbyterian ministers, are hired to share a congregation in New York.
This book is not about religion. It’s about faith – in ourselves, in each other, and, yes, in God. These are issues with which Charles and his wife Lily, and James and his wife Nan struggle. The time is the 60s, and social change is rampant. New York is the epicenter of the clash between old and new, and these four people are its embodiment.
On one hand, there is Charles, who feels a direct connection to God, but is married to Lily, who doesn’t believe in God at all. Then there is James, who sees God as the drive in men to make the world better. James’s wife Nan, the daughter of a minister, is primed for the traditional role of the minister’s wife, but traditional is not what she gets.
Reviewing such a … full … book is difficult. We’re talking love and friendship, tragedy and hope, belief and disbelief, grief, joy, and fulfillment. The characters are very real and, in that, complex, but the author paints the four in vivid detail. They grow, they change, they think, and feel, and fear.
Beautifully written, THE DEARLY BELOVED is also eminently readable. I heartily recommend it.