The Dearly Beloved

S. & S. Aug. 2019. 352p. ISBN 9781982104528. $26.99; ebk. ISBN 9781982104542. F
DEBUT In her literary first novel, author Wall explores the twin issues of faith and cultural change through the copastors of a New York church and their wives in 1963. Charles is an intellectual who finds that God answers the questions that he didn’t know he had. His love of God is profound and devout; his wife, Lily, however, is an atheist who gives no quarter to thoughts of the divine. Charles loves her, though, and she has willingly married him, though she is uncomfortable with the role of “pastor’s wife.” James, the other copastor, is a skeptic who isn’t sure of God, but he does understand that religion is one of the ways that people can change the world, and in the 1960s, he knows the world has to change. James’s wife, Nan, grew up the daughter of a Southern pastor. Her faith is sure, but she isn’t all that sure the world does need to change.
VERDICT This story will be beloved by book clubs and fans of literary fiction. The characters are finely drawn and written with compassion and care, and every word is precisely chosen

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