The best word I could find for The Dearly Beloved by Cara Wall is thoughtful. I know that is strange and I am certain I have never described a book as thoughtful before, but it fits so well.
The Dearly Beloved is the story of Charles and Lily and James and Nan, two couples with minister husbands. The book tells their complete stories from their meetings in college, their marriages, and their lives as co-ministers at a New York City church in the turbulent 60’s. Their lives have the usual ups and downs; failures and successes; and joys and pains. The four each struggle with faith at various times in their lives.
The beauty of this book is in the writing and the reflection. Wall does an excellent job of capturing how people change, how their relationships change, and how our experiences make us grow. This is especially well drawn in the relationship between Lily and Nan, two people who are complete opposites but yet need to live alongside each other (and their respective husbands).
Despite their differences, I felt some connection with all four of the main characters. They are each real and complex. The book also does a great job of capturing that time period in New York City. I warn you there are some very sad moments in the book, but that makes it true to life. I think The Dearly Beloved makes a great book group selection, with discussions about friendship, religion, and faith.
It took Cara Wall 13 years to write this book. I hope her next one takes less time!