The Dearly Beloved

Cara Wall. Simon & Schuster, $26.99 (352p) ISBN 978-1-9821-0452-8
Wall’s sensitive, deliberate debut examines the intersecting lives of two couples through years in which they alternately clash and support each other. In the politically volatile 1960s, reserved upper-class Charles and streetwise Chicagoan James are selected to be co-pastors at a Presbyterian church in New York. Like it or not, their wives are thrown together as well. While the two men complement each other, their wives often clash. Charles’s wife, Lily—a feminist, atheist academic who was orphaned as a teenager—shuns both the church and the company of James’s wife, Nan, a sociable Mississippian who was raised as the daughter of a minister and with a strong faith of her own. Rather than simply throwing all these strong personalities together, Wall slowly and carefully builds the history and point of view of each individual and then each new couple. By creating such well-defined characters, she is able to all the more effectively explore the role of faith, or its lack, in dealing with the pressures of marriage, child-rearing, and work, as one couple faces the fact that they may not have the children they want and the other deals with a child with special needs. This is a story in which religion is central to the plot and the actions of the characters, but in which the author stands back from taking sides in the battle. It’s a rare and intellectually stimulating outing. (Aug.)
Reviewed on : 06/28/2019
Release date: 08/13/2019
Genre: Fiction
Downloadable Audio - 978-1-5082-9753-6
Downloadable Audio - 978-1-5082-9919-6
Compact Disc - 978-1-5082-9755-0
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