(CBS Local)– “The Dearly Beloved” is Cara Wall’s first book and it didn’t disappoint.
The novel hits bookshelves on August 13 and chronicles the lives of two ministers named Charles and James and their wives Lily and Nan.
It took Wall 15 years to write and publish the book and she was able to use some of her family’s experiences in shaping the story.
“I wrote most of it in coffee shops around New York and it doesn’t feel real yet,” said Wall in an interview with CBS Local’s DJ Sixsmith. “I start writing always with characters and the characters came to me first and they came pretty fully formed. It was not a hard setting for me because I grew up in church. I grew up going to First Presbyterian Church and it was a very liberal church for the time in New York City and it was a very community based church. We did have two pastors and they were not difficult characters to place.”
One of the most interesting dynamics in the book is between Charles and his wife Lilly. Charles is a minister and Lily is a woman who doesn’t believe in God. While they appear different on the surface, Wall says they are not that different at all.
“I don’t see them as so different,” said Wall. “Charles from the very beginning knows he is going to be the only person he knows that is a man of faith. His family is not from a church and his father is very anti-religious. Charles and Lily are both intellectual and students. They could both easily be college professors and I think they are very like-minded in that way. This is just the biggest issue in their marriage.”
Wall makes sure to stress this is a book that is about much more than religion. It also hits on the challenges around raising a family and making a marriage last. Sometimes, you need help from people outside of your family.
“It’s harder for these characters because they are not necessarily people they like,” said Wall. “I love the characters that come in the second part of the book. They were total surprises. I don’t feel that it’s a bad thing when someone comes and helps you.”
This book will give people a lot to talk and think about regarding faith in every day life and ebbs and flows of belief in God.
“I have realized how little we talk about faith,” said Wall. “Most of our friendships are secular. I’ve been going to church regularly and then I realized I never had a conversations with my church friends about if they believed in God. I never had a personal conversation about faith and that still blows my mind. I still think that’s a really odd question to ask someone. I loved writing about the brokenness in faith. I don’t think people talk about it enough. You have a relationship with God like you have a relationship with any other person.”