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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
4.5 out of 5 stars (279 ratings)

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Publisher's Summary

A Today Show "Read with Jenna" Book Club Selection

“A moving portrait of love and friendship set against a backdrop of social change.” (The New York Times Book Review, Editor’s Choice) 

Here is the power of the novel in its simplest, richest form: bearing intimate witness to human beings grappling with their faith and falling in love. That Wall executes it so beautifully? Well, this is exactly why we read literary fiction.... The best book about faith in recent memory.” (Entertainment Weekly, A-) 

“When I began reading The Dearly Beloved, I braced for piety, worried it might be a book only a believer could appreciate. Instead, I found myself carried along by Cara Wall’s luminous prose, and then by these characters and their stories. I saw myself in their doubts, in their hopes. There is no moralizing here, only empathy. When I arrived at the end, I felt absolutely lifted by the spirit of the story.” (Mary Beth Keane, New York Times best-selling author of Ask Again, Yes)

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, 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, these four forge improbable paths through their evolving relationships, each struggling with uncertainty, heartbreak, and joy. A poignant meditation on faith and reason, marriage and children, and the ways we find meaning in our lives, Cara Wall’s 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 members say

Average Customer Ratings

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  • Overall
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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.

5 of 5 people found this review helpful

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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.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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    3 out of 5 stars
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Finding Faith

I thought I believed in God and what that meant,, but listening to this story made me realize that I had so many questions. Our beloved me took answer some and to formulate other questions still.

1 of 2 people found this review helpful

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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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  • Lynda
  • EVERSON, WA, United States
  • 10-05-19

Wonderful

The best book I’ve listened to in a long time. Beautiful & thought provoking look at real life, faith & friendship. Very satisfying

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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.

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Cara Wall is brilliant!

Thank you Cara! The Dearly Beloved is a beautiful novel! I loved getting to know Lily, especially when she was pregnant and beyond ~ so deep and insightful! Thank you! My life is richer having “listened” to this novel!

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Sleeper. I'd rather sleep!

This reader does not do the book justice. I did not like the story and feel it was too trite.

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Wonderful listen

The narrator was very good, the story touches one’s soul. Very grateful I chose it.

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Touching

Continually brought tears to my eyes. Lots of questions without answers but wonderful companions on the journey in these characters and in the author’s beautiful and sensitive language.

2 of 4 people found this review helpful