September 2019 Indie Next List
“The Dearly Beloved follows two couples as the men navigate the social and personal turbulence of leading a New York City congregation while the women struggle to find their places and define their relationship to each other. This novel grabs you and brings you in deep right from the start. Through decades of war and protest, success and failure, love and loss, we grow to care about each of these complex characters. Along the way, we also get a glimpse into 1960s New York City and the ways place can so irrevocably impact lives. This is a book that will resonate long after you put it down.”
— Lisa Swayze, Buffalo Street Books, Ithaca, NY
"Writing with restrained lyricism, Wall's debut offers a kind of literary chamber music, combining the viewpoints of a quartet of characters across multiple decades and events. Finely drawn and paced and written with intense compassion...A moving, eloquent exploration of faith and its response to the refining fire of life's challenges." --KIRKUS REVIEWS (STARRED REVIEW) "This wonderful book has all the things that are hardest to find in literature: good marriages sustained by abiding love; nourishing friendships that endure trials; nuanced explorations of religious faith; and characters who strive to do good for others while battling their own demons. What it has, in short, is that hardest-won of qualities in a novel: genuine goodness." --MATTHEW THOMAS, author of We Are Not Ourselves "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, author of Ask Again, Yes "I am not a Christian--not a religious person in any way--yet the explorations of faith in The Dearly Beloved speak to me on levels of extraordinary emotional depth, and with gut-wrenching meaning. I will cherish this book for a long, long time." --THISBE NISSEN, author of The Good People of New YorkCharles 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'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. 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.