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Dearly Beloved

Dearly Beloved

A Novel

By Harry Sylvester

274 pp

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About the Book

Set in rural Maryland in the 1930s, Dearly Beloved is the story of two Jesuit priests who want to heal the racially charged wounds of their parish. Father Kane and Father Cornish make effort upon effort to bridge the gap between their black and white parishioners, inviting a young Georgetown student named John Cosgrave to work with them. Through establishing cooperatives to bolster the struggling local fishing community and offering spiritual guidance to the morally impoverished region, these three men find themselves at odds with their community and with their own sins. As the story races towards a violent conclusion, the Catholic Church, through her faithful ministers, attempts to steer its members towards a peaceful reconciliation that may never come. Dearly Beloved asks hard questions about what it means to live together as the Body of Christ in a fallen, broken world constantly plagued by racial tension, economic poverty, and moral compromise.

About the Author

Harry Sylvester (1908–1993) wrote fiction that pierced the heart of the American Catholic experience. During his life, he published over 126 short stories and five novels: Big Football Man (1933), Dearly Beloved (1942), Dayspring (1945), Moon Gaffney (1947), and A Golden Girl (1950). He was born in Brooklyn, graduated from the University of Notre Dame in 1930, and spent the next twenty-five years traveling throughout North America before settling in the Washington, DC area from 1955 till his death. Though he was considered one of the most promising American Catholic authors of the 20th century, he gave up writing fiction in 1951, after which he spent the next twenty years writing and researching for the U.S. State Department. He was one of the first Americans to promote Graham Greene’s work and, like Greene, interviewed Saturnino Cedillo during the midst of the Mexican Civil War. He was friends with Ernest Hemingway and J. F. Powers, serving as a member of the wedding party for the latter. His writing combined a journalist’s attention to detail with a novelist’s concern for character and plot, creating memorable works as relevant today as they were when first published.

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