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In the Beauty of the Liliesby John Updike
Synopses & Reviews
"IT WILL LEAVE YOU STUNNED AND BREATHLESS. . . . With grand ambition, [Updike] not only tracks the fortunes and falls of an American family through four generations and eight decades but also creates a shimmering, celluloid portrait of the whole century as viewed through the metaphor of the movies."
"AN IMPORTANT AND IMPRESSIVE NOVEL: a novel that not only shows how we live today, but also how we got there. . . . A book that forces us to reassess the American Dream and the crucial role that faith (and the longing for faith) has played in shaping the national soul."
--The New York Times
"STIRRING AND CAPTIVATING AND BEAUTIFULLY WRITTEN . . . [This] new novel displays a depth and a narrative confidence that make one sigh with sweet anticipation. This is the Updike of the Rabbit books, who can take you uphill and down with his grace of vision, his gossamer language, and his merciful, ironic glance at the misery of the human condition. "
--The Boston Globe
"AWESOME . . . Updike's genius, his place beside Hawthorne and Nabokov have never been more assured, or chilling."
--The New Yorker
--The Atlanta Journal Constitution
In the Beauty of the Lilies begins in 1910 and traces God’s relation to four generations of American seekers, beginning with Clarence Wilmot, a clergyman in Paterson, New Jersey. He loses his faith but finds solace at the movies, respite from “the bleak facts of life, his life, gutted by God’s withdrawal.” His son, Teddy, becomes a mailman who retreats from American exceptionalism, religious and otherwise, into a life of studied ordinariness. Teddy has a daughter, Esther, who becomes a movie star, an object of worship, an All-American goddess. Her neglected son, Clark, is possessed of a native Christian fervor that brings the story full circle: in the late 1980s he joins a Colorado sect called the Temple, a handful of “God’s elect” hastening the day of reckoning. In following the Wilmots’ collective search for transcendence, John Updike pulls one wandering thread from the tapestry of the American Century and writes perhaps the greatest of his later novels.
Taking its title from the "Battle Hymn of the Republic", IN THE BEAUTY OF THE LILIES traces one family's profound journey through four generations--and across the spiritual landscape of twentieth-century America. It is perhaps John Updike's fullest and finest work of fiction.
About the Author
John Updike was born in 1932, in Shillington, Pennsylvania. He graduated from Harvard College in 1954, worked for a few years on the staff of The New Yorker, and since 1957 has lived in Massachusetts. He is the father of four children and the author of some forty books, including collections of short stories, poems, and criticism. His novels have won the Pulitzer Prize, the National Book Award, the American Book Award, and the National Book Critics Circle Award. Rabbit at Rest was recently awarded the Howells Medal, by the American Academy of Arts and Letters, for the most distinguished work of American fiction of the last five years.
From the Hardcover edition.
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