Anne Morrow Lindbergh described Dearly Beloved as reflections in a fictional frame. The frame is a June wedding in a private New England home attended by family and close friends. The occasion triggers the circle around the bride and groom to ponder the meaning of marriage in modern society.
Dearly Beloved is short enough to read in an evening, but best read a chapter or two at a time. The characters’ interior monologues are designed to trigger similar monologues by readers.
Lindbergh suggests that two people going through very similar circumstances can react very differently because of the attitude and experiences they bring to it.
The bridesmaid and best man look forward to marriage, but with quite different ideas of what a happy marriage would be.
The maiden aunt wonders considers whether she missed anything by not marrying.
The married men and women wonder if their marriages could be happier. One woman chooses divorce, another chooses to remain married. One man ministers to a dying wife because of love, another has affairs to escape the routine of life with a woman who bores him.
After letting readers stand in the shoes of her characters, Lindbergh leaves them to decide for themselves whether marriage still matters.Dearly Beloved: A Theme and Variations by Anne Morrow Lindbergh Harcourt, Brace & World, 1962 202 pages 1962 #2 My grade: B+