Cover Image: The Dearly Beloved

The Dearly Beloved

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Member Reviews

I am so happy that I received an ARC of this novel, and I actually enjoyed it so much that I went out and purchased a copy myself. I have to say that I’m not normally drawn to books like this, but for some reason the synopsis for this book just completely drew me in

The Dearly Beloved follows the lives of two couples: Charles and Lily and James and Nan. Following four very different upbringings, the lives of these two couples become intertwined when James and Charles accept the positions of co-pastors at Third Presbyterian in New York City. Spanning decades, the story follows these characters as they live and grow together through the joyous and turbulent times.

I will admit that this book will not be for everyone, but with that being said I absolutely loved it. This book is so raw and full of emotion that at times I felt myself feeling such strong emotions towards these characters. From the beginning of the novel up until the last page, I was so invested and was rooting for them through the entire journey. While religion does play a large part in the story, I found that the author was able to successfully incorporate many different views of religion. While Charles and Nan are strong and steadfast in their religion, she balances this with James and Lily’s skepticism and lack of faith. I found that while religion was present, it was worked into the story without feeling preachy and even when the characters spoke of their faith you understood that this was just how they felt – not necessarily how you should feel.

This book was so beautifully written, and even though some parts were emotionally difficult, it made the story feel so real. I thoroughly enjoyed this book, and am beyond impressed that this was Cara Wall’s debut novel! I cannot wait to see what she has lined up next!
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This is a beautiful novel of love, faith, doubt, jealousy and understanding.  It follows the loves of two couples as they grow and court.  When both men become ministers at the same church, their lives become intertwined.  It is for fans of such books as Yes Again, Yes and Little Fires Everywhere.  I will be recommending it to my customers.
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The Dearly Beloved is a beautifully written story about the complex relationship of two couples.   Charles and Lilly and James and Nan have been brought together when the men are assigned as ministers of the Third Presbyterian Church in Greenwich, New York in 1963.  The four individuals are from varied backgrounds well described by the author.  As the reader, I was fully immersed into the lives of the characters as they experience the joy of new love, the isolation and despair of loss, and the sometimes difficult journey of introspection and enlightenment. The book challenges the reader to think about faith - what it personally means to each of us, and how to better ourselves as compassionate humans to care for one another.

The dynamic between the women in particular was intriguing.  I appreciated the compassion the women provided to each other when most needed, as well as the insight and leadership provided to the ministers during times of turbulence in the congregation.  

I very much appreciated the author’s writing style.  It is poetic and thought-provoking: qualities that make the reader savour what is written and not to simply read  for its entertainment value.  The book is moving and memorable.  I look forward to reading more of Cara Wall’s work.

Thank you to Netgalley and Simon Schuster for the ARC in exchange for the honest review provided here.
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This book was a deeply insightful novel that displays faith, family dynamics, and suffering so honestly and relatable. The four characters who are uniquely different come together through learning that doing everything alone returns them in full circle back together again. I would like to mention this is not a typical book I would normally read but that’s what made this book so moving by the end. The overall style of the 50s and 60s adds a fun image to follow along with - especially for someone like me who was born in the 90sThe writing is beautiful and humble, in addition the author had inspired me to create relations between the characters and myself. The last thing I will mention that is easy to relate to the characters struggles and how they can use them to shape how they live (and lived) their every day lives with the lessons and values they carry (carried).
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I received a copy of this novel from the publisher via NetGalley.

James and Charles are co-ministers at a Presbyterian Church for 30 years, although this is really the story of how they meet their respective wives and the first few years of their ministry. Then it jumps to Charles' death (this is also the prologue) with nothing about the intervening years. I disliked Lily, Charles' wife (I think we were meant to) so much that it ruined the novel for me, although I also struggled to understand exactly what Charles and James thought they were bringing to ministry. There was no real focus on the parishioners, who just featured to make the men's lives difficult or to misunderstand their wives. There was no sense of warmth or joy or humour in this story and I skimmed the second half.

It started promisingly, and I was disappointed. I wanted Lily and Charles to enhance each other's lives and they didn't. I wanted Nan to grow more as a character than she did, and I wanted everyone to take themselves less seriously.
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