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The Dearly Beloved

av Cara Wall

MedlemmarRecensionerPopularitetGenomsnittligt betygOmnämnanden
2772171,861 (3.99)6
"Set in the years 1950-1970 in a changing America and London, follow[s] two married couples - ministers and academics - whose intricate bonds of faith and friendship, jealousy and understanding, are tested by the birth of an autistic child"--
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I wasn’t sure what book should follow The Most Fun We Ever Had but I knew I wanted to read another family saga. The Dearly Beloved by Cara Wall fit into this category so I decided to give it a go.

Wall introduces us to two couples, Charles and Lily and James and Nan. The beginning of the book gives us a rich background for each character starting from their childhoods through early adulthood. These couples lives then become intertwined when Charles and James become pastors at a New York City Presbyterian church. Over the years we see them struggle with their faith, beliefs, marriage, parenthood, and friendships.

This book is a deep dive into these four characters, who navigate many joys and heartaches over the decades we follow along with them. I loved seeing their evolving relationships with both themselves and one another and having the rich backstory to these multi-dimensional characters made this storyline even more rewarding.

While there are religious themes in The Dearly Beloved, Wall presents them without judgment or bias toward any belief system and the writing never feels preachy. I appreciated that it showed the struggles of all four characters at some point within their own belief systems. ( )
  genthebookworm | Dec 19, 2020 |
This a book about two Presbyterian ministers and their wives in the late 50’s and early 60’s. I feel it is written by someone who wanted to write about faith and church and had very little understanding of either. James grows up in a dysfunctional family but marries Nan from a “storybook” family led by a minister. Charles grows up in a liberal intellectual east coast family whose father is a Harvard professor with little respect for church or faith. He marries Lily, a studious and serious woman who lost her parents at an early age. Lily basically does not believe in God; James is not certain but feels called to the ministry in order to “change the world.”

This is the story of the two men who wind up sharing a pastorship in New York City and their wives who are extremely different and simply do not like one another. As times goes, Lily becomes pregnant and gives birth to twins boys, one who is autistic. The story assumes a lot about church leadership and the role of pastors which was a bit of a stretch for me. The part about the birth of the children was more interesting. The “happy” ending was also a bit of a stretch, but did say something about how friendship develops even between very dissimilar people. ( )
  maryreinert | Nov 26, 2020 |
While you will find THE DEARLY BELOVED shelved among many other novels, this one should stand out. It is character-driven, which can be a good sign, but plenty of authors get it wrong. Cara Wall doesn’t.

THE DEARLY BELOVED is about four people, James and Nan, Charles and Lily. James marries Nan, a devoutly religious daughter of a minister. Lily reluctantly marries Charles. James and Charles become ministers and preach together for 40 years. Each of these four people is examined over 50 years.

Character-driven novels always run the risk of becoming boring. That is partly because they often contain little or no plot. This could be said of THE DEARLY BELOVED, but Wall has included in it topics that other novels shy away from such as discussion of faith in God (and lack of it), living with a mentally deficient family member, and good marriages that endure. Her careful analyses and well-written dialogue will keep you engaged. ( )
  techeditor | Nov 24, 2020 |
Best book of the year. Granted, the year is early, but this book is amazingly beautiful, well-written, thought-provoking without being issue driven. It tells the story of 2 couples, Nan and James McNally and Lily and Charles Barrett - and has an old-fashioned feel - as it is set in the 50s-60s. There is a little bit of backstory about each character's childhood, how they meet their spouses, their courtship, and finally how the two couples come together. The way these 4 independent lives are woven together to form a cohesive whole is masterful and doesn't emotionally manipulate or create contrived drama. Nan comes from the South, James comes from Chicago. They meet at a concert when she attends Wheaton College and he attends University of Chicago. Lily is from Missouri, Charles is from Boston and they also meet in college at Harvard/Radcliffe. These are people who value learning, thinking, knowing yourself, common decency for the greater good....and ultimately through trial and error both James and Charles in their separate schools begin to study for the ministry. Nan is a minister's daughter, so this is familiar territory for her. Lily is an atheist, so it is a testimony to her love for Charles that she signs on for this lifestyle. As young marrieds, each couple has a parish - the Barretts in Nantucket and the McNallys in England. The four converge back in NYC at Third Presbyterian on 12th and 5th Ave, where Charles and James are hired for a joint pastorship. How they balance each other, how the 2 couples get along, how Lily and Nan become friends, how they suffer personal setbacks and start families comprises the 2nd half of the book. There is some turbulence of the 60s, but it is ancillary and there is no high drama of secret passions or affairs between the couples (thank God), but just the ordinary challenges it takes to continue to love your life and allow others into it in a meaningful way. Central to the story is the question of faith and how you live it, but it is never preachy or heavy-handed or even fully committed to a particular belief system. It put me in mind of Crossing to Safety by Wallace Stegner - another lovely, meaningful read. I will definitely return to this one. ( )
  CarrieWuj | Oct 24, 2020 |
I started out really enjoying this book. I like reading about the 50s and 60s, and I got a kick out of some things, like Charles's last name being Barrett and meeting Lily in the Radcliffe library, just like Oliver (Barrett, as in Barrett Hall) and Jenny. It went on in an interesting way for quite some time, but I thought the narration got awfully heavy-handed toward the end. I mean, I know Presbyterian ministers probably do a fair amount of musing about God, but I got really tired of reading about every thought they had in that direction.



( )
  VintageReader | Oct 6, 2020 |
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"Set in the years 1950-1970 in a changing America and London, follow[s] two married couples - ministers and academics - whose intricate bonds of faith and friendship, jealousy and understanding, are tested by the birth of an autistic child"--

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