In the Beauty of the Lilies

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A.A. Knopf, Jan 1, 1996 - Fiction - 491 pages
21 Reviews
John Updike's seventeenth novel begins in 1910, and traces God's relation to four generations of an American family, beginning with Clarence Wilmot, a Presbyterian clergyman in Paterson, New Jersey. He loses his faith, and becomes an encyclopedia salesman and a motion-picture addict. The remainder of Clarence's family moves to the small town of Basingstoke, Delaware, where his cautious son, Teddy, becomes a mailman. Faithless himself, Teddy marries a good Methodist girl and begets Esther, whose prayers are always answered; she becomes an object of worship, a twentieth-century goddess. Her neglected son, Clark, makes his way back to the fiery fundamentals of Protestant piety. The novel ends in 1990, in Lower Branch, Colorado, and on television. Taking its title from the "Battle-Hymn of the Republic, " In the Beauty of the Lilies spins one saga, one wandering tapestry thread, of the American Century.

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Amazing. Lots of clear prose. - Goodreads
Updike may be usefully seen as a comedic writer. - Goodreads
Amazing descriptions and thoughtful prose. - Goodreads
Updike is a writer who, frankly, just leaves me in awe. - Goodreads

Review: In The Beauty Of The Lilies

User Review  - James Alexander - Goodreads

Started out with a fascinating account of Clarence's struggle with faith, and lead into the amazing struggles of the family. Amazing descriptions and thoughtful prose. But the last story got a little tiresome, didn't match Clarence's story. Read full review

Review: In The Beauty Of The Lilies

User Review  - Nicholas P - Goodreads

Amazing. Lots of clear prose. Brilliant metaphors. Kept the tension going until the last page. Read full review


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About the author (1996)

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.

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