Book Notification

Cara Wall Books In Order

Book links take you to Amazon. As an Amazon Associate I earn money from qualifying purchases.

Publication Order of Standalone Novels

The Dearly Beloved (2019)Description / Buy at Amazon

Cara Wall
Cara Wall is a graduate of the Stanford University and Iowa Writer’s Workshop. While she was at Iowa, she taught fiction writing in the undergraduate creative writing department and at the Iowa Young Writer’s Studio in her capacity of founder and inaugural director.

Cara went on to teach middle school history and English and she has been published by the San Francisco Chronicle, Glamour, and Salon.

She worked on “The Dearly Beloved” off and on, in between these long stretches where she put all of her energy into parenting and teaching. Sometimes because this was absolutely necessary for her to earn a living or be totally present for her daughter, and sometimes because she wanted to.

Often, she felt shame about not writing it faster, or not having the discipline to write for three hours a day, every day, as that’s what she was told was the key to success at Iowa. There were a lot of people in her life that had no idea she was even writing a novel because, at some point along the way, she totally quit talking about it, and decided that if she wasn’t actually physically writing, she couldn’t call herself a writer.

Sitting down, opening a notebook to some blank page, and putting pen to paper is agonizingly difficult for her. It’s a terrifying moment for her. She can spend days at a time wandering around her house doing all of the chores that she hates the most, merely to avoid writing. It’s just the one moment, however she is just as afraid of it as she would be of jumping out of an airplane. It’s really ridiculous because as soon as she begins writing, she feels glorious. She loves the feel and shape of words on the page, the rhythms that they make, and the emotions that they elicit. Cara loves the feeling she gets when she finally cracks the code of some paragraph or a scene, when she rereads it and knows that she has managed to express precisely what she wanted to say.

Her daughter being old enough to go to summer camp it was a bit of a turning point. This gave her long stretches each summer to do nothing at all but write. The first summer, she read through everything she had: every random margin note and every scrap of paper. She assembled this into some kind of order that resembled a story. Then she sent it to people to read and told them that they had one year to get back to her. The next summer, she read their comments and dove back into it, turning what was a 140 page manuscript into a 360 page one. The next summer, she poked at the thing like she was a dentist, searching for soft spots and rough edges.

It allowed her to see the book with fresh eyes, and see what had stood the test of time. If she got goosebumps while reading something, she kept it, and if it felt like a deflated balloon, she ditched it or figured out a way to make it work better.

She got to know these characters over time as one gets to know their best friends. They lived inside of her patiently, and the more life experiences she encountered, the more that she got to learn about each of her characters, almost like she was evaluating her real life through their eyes and her own point of view.

She feels very enriched for having lived with these characters (James and Nan, Lily and Charles) so long. They’ve made her much more compassionate and wiser than she would’ve been without them.

The two couples came to her fully formed. This is how all of her writing begins, with characters knocking on her door and wait patiently for her to tell their stories for them. There is a very long line in her waiting room by this point, since she had gotten tied up with this book for so very long.

“The Dearly Beloved” is the first stand alone novel and was released in 2019. The novel is a moving portrait of friendship and love while being set against a backdrop of social change. It stars two married couples whose lives get entangled after the husbands become co-pastors at this famed New York City congregation in the 1960s.

James and Nan, and Lily and Charles. They meet one another in Greenwich Village in 1963 as James and Charles are jointly hired to steward the historic Third Presbyterian Church through its turbulent times. Their personal differences though threaten to rip them each apart.

James, who is the youngest son in a hardscrabble Chicago family, spent the majority of his youth angry at his alcoholic dad and avoiding his anxious mom. Nan grew up in Mississippi, the beloved and devout daughter of a debutante and a minister. James’ escape away from his desperate circumstances leads him to Nan and, despite much of his skepticism of hope in all of its forms, her constant and gentle faith alters the course of his life.

Charles is destined to succeed his dad as an esteemed professor of history at Harvard, until this unorthodox lecture about faith leads him into the ministry. How can he possibly fall in love with Lily (elegantly stern and fiercely intellectual) after she tells him with certainty that she’ll never believe in God? Yet, how can he not?

Cara Wall reminds us in this novel of the novel’s power in its simplest and richest forms: bearing intimate witness to human beings that are grappling with their faith and falling in love. All while we follow these two couples through the decades of understanding and jealousy, friendship and love, commitment and forgiveness. Set against the backdrop of turbulent changes that the city faces and the church’s congregation, Cara offers up a poignant meditation on kids and marriage, reason and faith, and the ways that we find meaning in our lives. This is a wise, gorgeous, and provocative novel which is destined to become a classic.

Book Series In Order » Authors » Cara Wall

Leave a Reply