The Dearly Beloved

“I don’t think God exists in the way people would to like to believe; I don’t think God saves the day. I think it’s up to us. We know the rules, and we’re the ones who have to play the game.”

Before I begin this review, I want to take a moment to thank Simon and Schuster for gifting me an advanced copy of this book. However, I would also like to take a moment to thank the author Cara Wall for writing such a profoundly moving story. 

Synopsis: “Charles and Lily, James and Nan. They meet in Greenwich Village in 1963 when Charles and James are jointly hired to steward the historic Third Presbyterian Church through turbulent times. Their differences, however, threaten to tear them apart.

Charles is destined to succeed his father as an esteemed professor of history at Harvard until an unorthodox lecture about faith leads him to ministry. How then, can he fall in love with Lily—fiercely intellectual, elegantly stern—after she tells him with certainty that she will never believe in God? And yet, how can he not?

James, the youngest son in a hardscrabble Chicago family, spent much of his youth angry at his alcoholic father and avoiding his anxious mother. Nan grew up in Mississippi, the devout and beloved daughter of a minister and a debutante. James’s escape from his desperate circumstances leads him to Nan and, despite his skepticism of hope in all its forms, her gentle, constant faith changes the course of his life.

The Dearly Beloved follows these two couples through decades of love and friendship, jealousy and understanding, forgiveness and commitment. Against the backdrop of turbulent changes facing the city and the church’s congregation, these four forge improbable paths through their evolving relationships, each struggling with uncertainty, heartbreak, and joy. It’s a poignant meditation on faith and reason, marriage and children, and the ways we find meaning in our lives.”

As I mentioned before, I found The Dearly Beloved to be incredibly profound and moving. It has been a long time since I’ve read a book and felt that I could relate to not one, not two but every one of the main characters. I could see something in myself that I hadn’t been able to pinpoint before reading this story. There were countless times that I stopped to write down a quote from the book that I found pertinent to my life. There were even more times that I found myself saying ‘ ah, that is how I feel and I’ve not thought about it that way before.’

There is something so incredibly complex about writing a multi-generational story that encapsulates the beauty of life, The Dearly Beloved did just that. This story took me completely by surprise and I am so grateful that I read it.

I also feel that it is imperative to point out that this story is not solely about believing in God or not believing in God or holding onto the idea of religion or the church. This book is about life. Plain and simple. Every character will relate to someone who reads this. The Dearly Beloved is about learning what it is that makes us tick and accepting that in finding oneself and one’s beliefs that they don’t necessarily have to exist within the four walls of a church. Please, if you have been hesitant to read this book because you were wary of the religious motif that the book seems to encase, I urge you to give this a try. You may be surprised as to how much it can open your eyes to the world around you. 

I truly savored every word, every sentence and every page of this story. I’m not embarrassed to admit that it made me cry on more than one occasion and let’s be real, I knew that the ending would make me cry like a baby after reading the very FIRST paragraph of the book. 

Cara Wall, you have truly outdone yourself by writing this beautiful story. It is one of my favorites of this year and I have already found myself recommending it to everyone I know. The Dearly Beloved will remain a favorite of mine for years to come and I will be reading it again in the future. I look forward to your next work of art. 

Thank you to Simon and Schuster for being kind enough to gift me this book.

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