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The Dearly Beloved

A Novel
By: Cara Wall
Narrated by: Kathy Keane
Length: 10 hrs and 50 mins
Categories: Fiction, Historical
3.0 out of 5 stars (2 ratings)

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Publisher's Summary

“This gentle, gorgeously written book may be one of my favorites ever.” (Jenna Bush Hager - A Today show “Read with Jenna” Book Club selection!) 

This “moving portrait of love and friendship set against a backdrop of social change” (The New York Times Book Review, Editor’s Choice) traces two married couples whose lives become entangled when the husbands become co-pastors at a famed New York city congregation in the 1960s. 

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 personal 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' 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. 

In The Dearly Beloved, Cara Wall reminds us of “the power of the novel in its simplest, richest form: bearing intimate witness to human beings grappling with their faith and falling in love” (Entertainment Weekly, A-) as we follow 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, Wall offers a poignant meditation on faith and reason, marriage and children, and the ways we find meaning in our lives. The Dearly Beloved is a gorgeous, wise, and provocative novel that is destined to become a classic.  

©2019 Cara Wall (P)2019 Simon & Schuster Audio

What listeners say about The Dearly Beloved

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Profile Image for JOHN GOSSETT
  • JOHN GOSSETT
  • 03-09-2019

lovely story, Illuminating and informative

I love this story. The characters leapt off the page. Their struggles seem real and clearly echo the difficulty of having faith in a world of tragedy and difficulty. This engaging novel illuminates. the difficulty of going through this world alone and the comfort they can come from being bonded to one another.

6 people found this helpful

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  • DE
  • 27-11-2019

Best Book I Read This Year.

This was the best book I have read all year. It is a beautiful story of friendship, love of family and God. Learned a little history of Autism education and how a family and friends work hard to make their son's life better. Amazing story over a 50 year period.

2 people found this helpful

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  • Carrie B.
  • 25-10-2019

So good

Loved this story, and the narration. I adored the luscious descriptions of homes, etc., a wonderful atmosphere is set. Excellent characters, coming apart and together throughout their lifetimes. Religion is a theme, but all sides are presented. I highly recommend this book.

2 people found this helpful

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  • RueRue
  • 03-10-2019

A story of faith

A wonderful, thought provoking story of faith (personal) and Faith (religious). It is a slow start, so hang in for the first hour or so. The characters are beautifully written and each represents a different aspect of the meaning of faith. The ending is poignant and perfect. This is a book to savor. It made me think about my own beliefs.

2 people found this helpful

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  • Celia S. Brinker
  • 21-09-2019

Real life

The Dearly Beloved is a beautiful story telling the real struggles of real life. Lovingly reminds us that we don’t have to always agree with everyone we love. We don’t always know the answers to our struggles. Being open, forgiving, kind, and part of a community is all that really matters.

2 people found this helpful

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  • G.D.
  • 28-01-2020

just amazing

It began slow and a bit confusing.... BUT KEEP GOING! this book is expertly woven together

1 person found this helpful

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Profile Image for Valerie Gabriel-Swenson
  • Valerie Gabriel-Swenson
  • 20-01-2020

Lives Lived!

A read that shares how life journies can bring us together and can tear us apart. The joy, heartbreak, perceived truth, and realities in our daily lives. The journey of faith.

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  • eMerkle
  • 06-01-2020

So good!

Such a touching sweet story of the courtship, career and journey of 2 couples. Such a great reminder of the life ministers live...

1 person found this helpful

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  • Becky
  • 12-10-2019

God Is Real

In spite of the fact that the author is not a believer, this is a good book. She spends an entire book talking about God without ever mentioning the death and resurrection of Jesus as the only atonement for our sin. She never identifies sin as the original cause of death and suffering in the world. She walks us through the characters' struggles with personal pain, and even identifies some amazing intervention of God, without ever recognizing His hand , or acknowledging Him as anything more than a social construct, or the Bible as anything more than an interesting series of metaphors. For an academic study of the historicity of the life of Jesus, I would recommend Jesus and the Eyewitnesses by Richard Bauckham. For the intellectual struggle with pain I would recommend The Problem of Pain by C.S. Lewis.

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  • JenniferTaylor
  • 22-09-2020

a peek into their lives

This is a story of 2 ministers and their wives. Eventhough they work together their lives are very different. I think the author did an amazing job of creating characters that are totally different than each other while their lives are on the same path. Cara Wall made each one a person you get to know and connect with in many different ways I really enjoyed being in the struggles that they had together as work partners, as couples, and as friends. It was also a great pleasure to read a clean book. No swearing, no sex, no violence. That was lovely! The narrator did a great job giving each person their own voice, and portrayed the emotions very well. I will look for more books she narrates .