In the Beauty of the Lilies by John Updike
A Novel

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Synopsis

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.
 

About John Updike

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John Updike was born in Shillington, Pennsylvania, in 1932. He graduated from Harvard College in 1954 and spent a year in Oxford, England, at the Ruskin School of Drawing and Fine Art. From 1955 to 1957 he was a member of the staff of The New Yorker. His novels have won the Pulitzer Prize, the National Book Award, the National Book Critics Circle Award, the Rosenthal Foundation Award, and the William Dean Howells Medal. In 2007 he received the Gold Medal for Fiction from the American Academy of Arts and Letters. John Updike died in January 2009.
 
Published July 22, 2009 by Random House. 576 pages
Genres: Mystery, Thriller & Suspense, Literature & Fiction. Fiction

Unrated Critic Reviews for In the Beauty of the Lilies

Kirkus Reviews

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Still, this is Updike--and there's much to admire in the deep and thoughtful characterizations (especially of the tormented Clarence and confused Teddy), impish humor (the summary descriptions of Essie's films are a hoot), and dependably precise and fluent prose.

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Publishers Weekly

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The spiritual and sexual malaise of a multigenerational American family is the focus of Updike's masterful novel, a six-week PW bestseller.

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Entertainment Weekly

Spanning 80 years and four generations, John Updike's In the Beauty of the Lilies is both a melancholy family saga and a melodramatic soap opera, a literary tour de force that should also delight readers of Belva Plain.

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People

Thus we meet the first of four generations in this ambitious chronicle of America's 20th century as told through the fortunes of the Wilmot family: the Reverend, his son Teddy, a timid postman;

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London Review of Books

and Updike also cites a number of books, movie reference works, a study of the Paterson silk strike of 1913, an account of the Waco siege and other books about American religious cults.

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Spirituality & Practice

Reviews Philosophy About Our Affiliates Books & Audios Recently Reviewed In this poignant and well-orchestrated novel, the author covers 80 years and four generations in the life of an American family.

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