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All the World Beside

A Novel

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“A heart-wrenching story of love, family, and spirituality.” —People Magazine

From the New York Times bestselling author of Boy Erased, an electrifying, deeply moving novel about the love story between two men in Puritan New England.


Cana, Massachusetts: a utopian vision of 18th-century Puritan New England. To the outside world, Reverend Nathaniel Whitfield and his family stand as godly pillars of their small-town community, drawing Christians from across the New World into their fold. One such Christian, physician Arthur Lyman, discovers in the minister’s words a love so captivating it transcends language.

As the bond between these two men grows more and more passionate, their families must contend with a tangled web of secrets, lies, and judgments which threaten to destroy them in this world and the next. And when the religious ecstasies of the Great Awakening begin to take hold, igniting a new era of zealotry, Nathaniel and Arthur search for a path out of an impossible situation, imagining a future for themselves which has no name. Their wives and children must do the same, looking beyond the known world for a new kind of wilderness, both physical and spiritual.

Set during the turbulent historical upheavals which shaped America’s destiny and following in the tradition of Nathaniel Hawthorne’s The Scarlet Letter, All the World Beside reveals the very human lives just beneath the surface of dogmatic belief. Bestselling author Garrard Conley has created a page-turning, vividly imagined historical tale that is both a love story and a crucible.
Praise for All the World Beside

“A heart-wrenching story of love, family, and spirituality.”
People Magazine
 
“Affecting… Conley joins a cadre of literary writers — Daniel Mason and Lauren Groff among them — who look backward to make sense of present-day conflicts.”
The Washington Post
 
“An evocative and mystical work of historical fiction that animates a love affair between two men in 18th-century Puritan New England… A contemplative depiction of the endurance required to survive religious intolerance that is probing, redemptive and brimming with compassion for the human race.”
Atlanta Journal Constitution
 
“Affecting… Conley joins a cadre of literary writers — Daniel Mason and Lauren Groff among them — who look backward to make sense of present-day conflicts.”
The Washington Post
 
“[A] gust of fresh air...the writing is masterful but un-self-flattering. The story is as linear as human life, with its twists and turns, flash-forwards and flashbacks, will allow...It moves you right along, and then it moves you deeply."
The San Francisco Bay Area Reporter
 
"[Conley's] effortless ability to genre shift is evident from the very first page of this addictive historical thriller."
LGBTQ Nation
 
“Asks difficult questions about the mysteries of faith and love in a hostile world and generously gives the reader a wealth of space to fully feel them.”
Arkansas Times
 
"In this moving and powerful novel, Garrard Conley follows the men and their families as the tension between their piety and desires becomes impossible to ignore."
Town & Country Magazine
 
“Sprawling, subtle, complex, and rewarding work of powerfully envisioned historical fiction, a novel rich in themes of faith, divinity, desire, and love.”
Booklist, starred review
 
“Conley has crafted a rich, deeply researched story whose characters are alive with contradictions… A novel that brings its Puritan setting alive with two men who are wounded for falling in love.”
Kirkus Reviews
 
“A finely tuned debut novel about a queer love affair...this is a potent chronicle of an underexplored era in queer history.”
Publishers Weekly

“A gorgeous, spellbinding work of historical fiction that conjures up a society wrestling with faith, love, and a sense of belonging. It is a heartbreaking account of forbidden passions and lost innocence told with intimate, lyrical beauty. It is truly sublime. I loved it.”
Douglas Stuart, author of Shuggie Bain and Young Mungo

"Part spell, part prayer, wholly mesmerizing. Garrard Conley casts the same magic in fiction as in the memoir that made him famous." 
Torrey Peters, author of Detransition, Baby

“In this accomplishment of breathtaking prose, expert pacing, and extraordinary psychological intelligence, Conley presents a world as it was, as it is, and as it could be. A triumph.”
Tess Gunty, National Book Award-winning author of Rabbit Hutch

All the World Beside is a soaring, beautiful novel, at once sweeping and deeply personal. Conley has given us a great gift in this vivid and striking examination of the stories we tell ourselves about who we were and who we are and who we hope to be. Part restoration and part reclamation, Conley’s bold new American myth simply sings.”
Brandon Taylor, author of Real Life
 
"A richly textured, thrilling and scandalous romance, All the World Beside is a mesmerizing read.  Skillfully paced and completely gripping from its first page, Conley gives us historical fiction at its most delicious and absorbing."
Jordy Rosenberg, author of Confessions of the Fox

“Radical and gorgeous, decadent and deeply moral, All the World Beside upends the world as Christian patriarchs have taught us to know it. Garrard Conley’s ravishing novel embodies literature’s power to reach deep crevices that official accounts cannot, to water the dry earth of early American history and transform it into fertile gardens not only of the mind, but of the glorious, imperfect human spirit.
Meredith Talusan, author of Fairest
 
“Garrard Conley has found a new and ravishing music: a language that straddles the 18th and 21st centuries, a vehicle for faith and desire. In its closing movements, this novel contains some of the finest writing I've encountered in recent American fiction.”
Garth Greenwell, author of Cleanness
 
“Teaches us that in Puritan America the scarlet letter was not A for adultery but H for homosexuality and that the only romance with God is tense and tragic.”
Edmund White
© Colin Boyd Shafer
Garrard Conley is the New York Times bestselling author of the memoir Boy Erased, as well as the creator and co-producer of the podcast UnErased: The History of Conversion Therapy in America. His work has been published by The New York Times, Oxford American, Time, and Virginia Quarterly Review, among others. Conley is a graduate of Brooklyn College’s MFA program, where he was a Truman Capote Fellow specializing in fiction. He is an assistant professor of creative writing at Kennesaw State University. View titles by Garrard Conley

About

“A heart-wrenching story of love, family, and spirituality.” —People Magazine

From the New York Times bestselling author of Boy Erased, an electrifying, deeply moving novel about the love story between two men in Puritan New England.


Cana, Massachusetts: a utopian vision of 18th-century Puritan New England. To the outside world, Reverend Nathaniel Whitfield and his family stand as godly pillars of their small-town community, drawing Christians from across the New World into their fold. One such Christian, physician Arthur Lyman, discovers in the minister’s words a love so captivating it transcends language.

As the bond between these two men grows more and more passionate, their families must contend with a tangled web of secrets, lies, and judgments which threaten to destroy them in this world and the next. And when the religious ecstasies of the Great Awakening begin to take hold, igniting a new era of zealotry, Nathaniel and Arthur search for a path out of an impossible situation, imagining a future for themselves which has no name. Their wives and children must do the same, looking beyond the known world for a new kind of wilderness, both physical and spiritual.

Set during the turbulent historical upheavals which shaped America’s destiny and following in the tradition of Nathaniel Hawthorne’s The Scarlet Letter, All the World Beside reveals the very human lives just beneath the surface of dogmatic belief. Bestselling author Garrard Conley has created a page-turning, vividly imagined historical tale that is both a love story and a crucible.

Reviews

Praise for All the World Beside

“A heart-wrenching story of love, family, and spirituality.”
People Magazine
 
“Affecting… Conley joins a cadre of literary writers — Daniel Mason and Lauren Groff among them — who look backward to make sense of present-day conflicts.”
The Washington Post
 
“An evocative and mystical work of historical fiction that animates a love affair between two men in 18th-century Puritan New England… A contemplative depiction of the endurance required to survive religious intolerance that is probing, redemptive and brimming with compassion for the human race.”
Atlanta Journal Constitution
 
“Affecting… Conley joins a cadre of literary writers — Daniel Mason and Lauren Groff among them — who look backward to make sense of present-day conflicts.”
The Washington Post
 
“[A] gust of fresh air...the writing is masterful but un-self-flattering. The story is as linear as human life, with its twists and turns, flash-forwards and flashbacks, will allow...It moves you right along, and then it moves you deeply."
The San Francisco Bay Area Reporter
 
"[Conley's] effortless ability to genre shift is evident from the very first page of this addictive historical thriller."
LGBTQ Nation
 
“Asks difficult questions about the mysteries of faith and love in a hostile world and generously gives the reader a wealth of space to fully feel them.”
Arkansas Times
 
"In this moving and powerful novel, Garrard Conley follows the men and their families as the tension between their piety and desires becomes impossible to ignore."
Town & Country Magazine
 
“Sprawling, subtle, complex, and rewarding work of powerfully envisioned historical fiction, a novel rich in themes of faith, divinity, desire, and love.”
Booklist, starred review
 
“Conley has crafted a rich, deeply researched story whose characters are alive with contradictions… A novel that brings its Puritan setting alive with two men who are wounded for falling in love.”
Kirkus Reviews
 
“A finely tuned debut novel about a queer love affair...this is a potent chronicle of an underexplored era in queer history.”
Publishers Weekly

“A gorgeous, spellbinding work of historical fiction that conjures up a society wrestling with faith, love, and a sense of belonging. It is a heartbreaking account of forbidden passions and lost innocence told with intimate, lyrical beauty. It is truly sublime. I loved it.”
Douglas Stuart, author of Shuggie Bain and Young Mungo

"Part spell, part prayer, wholly mesmerizing. Garrard Conley casts the same magic in fiction as in the memoir that made him famous." 
Torrey Peters, author of Detransition, Baby

“In this accomplishment of breathtaking prose, expert pacing, and extraordinary psychological intelligence, Conley presents a world as it was, as it is, and as it could be. A triumph.”
Tess Gunty, National Book Award-winning author of Rabbit Hutch

All the World Beside is a soaring, beautiful novel, at once sweeping and deeply personal. Conley has given us a great gift in this vivid and striking examination of the stories we tell ourselves about who we were and who we are and who we hope to be. Part restoration and part reclamation, Conley’s bold new American myth simply sings.”
Brandon Taylor, author of Real Life
 
"A richly textured, thrilling and scandalous romance, All the World Beside is a mesmerizing read.  Skillfully paced and completely gripping from its first page, Conley gives us historical fiction at its most delicious and absorbing."
Jordy Rosenberg, author of Confessions of the Fox

“Radical and gorgeous, decadent and deeply moral, All the World Beside upends the world as Christian patriarchs have taught us to know it. Garrard Conley’s ravishing novel embodies literature’s power to reach deep crevices that official accounts cannot, to water the dry earth of early American history and transform it into fertile gardens not only of the mind, but of the glorious, imperfect human spirit.
Meredith Talusan, author of Fairest
 
“Garrard Conley has found a new and ravishing music: a language that straddles the 18th and 21st centuries, a vehicle for faith and desire. In its closing movements, this novel contains some of the finest writing I've encountered in recent American fiction.”
Garth Greenwell, author of Cleanness
 
“Teaches us that in Puritan America the scarlet letter was not A for adultery but H for homosexuality and that the only romance with God is tense and tragic.”
Edmund White

Author

© Colin Boyd Shafer
Garrard Conley is the New York Times bestselling author of the memoir Boy Erased, as well as the creator and co-producer of the podcast UnErased: The History of Conversion Therapy in America. His work has been published by The New York Times, Oxford American, Time, and Virginia Quarterly Review, among others. Conley is a graduate of Brooklyn College’s MFA program, where he was a Truman Capote Fellow specializing in fiction. He is an assistant professor of creative writing at Kennesaw State University. View titles by Garrard Conley