Summary: A four-generation family saga exploring the place of God in America. It begins in the 1910s when a Presbyterian minister loses his faith and turns to movies as a substitute for religion. With no faith of his own, the minister's son also worships the world of Hollywood and his daughter becomes a famous actress. In the fourth generation, however, a reaction sets in, the son of the actress earning his fame in a religious commune, guns blazing. By the author of Rabbit at ...show more Rest.
Synopsis copyright Fiction Digest Faith ultimately bursts into flame as Updike's major new novel, charting the lives of one family through four generations, shows readers an America whose dream of perfection is translated into an obsession with God and the Moving Picture. Paterson, New Jersey, 1910: When a Presbyterian minister suddenly loses his faith and leaves the pulpit to become a salesman, he becomes a movie addict as well. 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. Taking its title from the "Battle Hymn of the Republic", this book traces one family's profound journey through four generations--and across the spiritual landscape of 20th century America. It is perhaps John Updike's fullest and finest work of fiction. This novel "opens in Paterson, New Jersey, in 1910.'At the moment Mary Pickford fainted' while making a movie close by, Presbyterian minister Clarence Wilmot loses his faith.That loss precipitates another loss: his job.Since 'now he was free--free to sink,' he turns to selling encyclopedias door to door and to an addictive habit of watching the fabulous new medium, moving pictures.Updike then tells of the following three generations of Clarence's family: his son, a flaccid individual who marries a woman of strong religious faith; his daughter, who becomes a famous movie star; and her son, who winds upon the wrong side of a shootout with federal authorities at a Rocky Mountain cult headquarters."(Booklist) ...show less