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“All the World Beside” by Garrard Conley

--Staff Picks

All the World Beside

Garrard Conley
Published: 2024
Age Range: Adult
Genre: Historical Fiction

Garrard Conley, the author of the bestselling memoir Boy Erased, covers similar themes of reconciling queer sexuality with a deeply repressive religious community in this foray into historical fiction. In 18th-century Massachusetts, a Puritan preacher falls in love with a physician who leaves Boston to join his small religious community. Their affair and the steps they must take to hide it inevitably threaten not only themselves, but also their wives, their children, and the faith that they have built their lives upon.

While the village the reverend founds is a community of idealists, nominally dedicated to rejecting slavery and servitude, the novel doesn’t take a particularly idealized view of history. The characters have complex motivations colored by the worldview they were raised in, and they face struggles reflective of the time period in which they live. Nonetheless, many of the questions the characters ask themselves in their search for love and belonging transcend time.

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