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In the Beauty of the Lilies
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About the Author

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.

Reviews

The saga of one family's journey through the spiritual landscape of 20th-century America, Updike's 17th novel opens in 1910, just as Theodore Wilmot's father, a Presbyterian minister, suddenly loses his faith. His loss is visceral, and no amount of intellectualizing can deter him from his realization that he must leave the pulpit if he is to remain true to himself. Eighty years later, Theodore's grandson, a lost soul in the post-Vietnam War era who has found strange comfort in a radical religious cult, experiences his own catharsis, as the flames literally rage around him. In the intervening years, we follow the lives of Theodore himself, a good man who has no outward faith and little ambition, and his daughter, Esther, who becomes a modern-day sort of goddess‘a movie star. Updike is an astute observer of the American experience and in Theodore Wilmot has created a quintessential 20th-century everyman. Despite an occasional lapse into stereotypical characterization (e.g., the "gay cousin"), this well-wrought tale engages both emotion and intellect. A major novel by a major novelist, it belongs in libraries of every sort. [Previewed in Prepub Alert, LJ 9/1/95]‘David W. Henderson, Eckerd Coll. Lib., St. Petersburg, Fla.

"Dazzling . . . a book that forces us to reassess the American Dream and the crucial role that faith (and the longing for faith) have played in shaping the national soul."--The New York Times

"Stirring and captivating and beautifully written . . . 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

"Updike's genius, his place beside Hawthorne and Nabokov have never been more assured."--George Steiner, The New Yorker

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