Every first Sunday in June, members of the Moses clan gather for an annual reunion at "the old home place," a sprawling hundred-acre farm in Arkansas. And every year, Samuel Lake, a vibrant and committed young preacher, brings his beloved wife, Willadee Moses, and their three children back for the festivities. The children embrace the reunion as a welcome escape from the prying eyes of their father's congregation; for Willadee it's a precious opportunity to spend time with her mother and father, Calla and John. But just as the reunion is getting under way, tragedy strikes, jolting the family to their core: John's untimely death and, soon after, the loss of Samuel's parish, which set the stage for a summer of crisis and profound change.
In the midst of it all, Samuel and Willadee's outspoken eleven-year-old daughter, Swan, is a bright light. Her high spirits and fearlessness have alternately seduced and bedeviled three generations of the family. But it is Blade Ballenger, a traumatized eight-year-old neighbor, who soon captures Swan's undivided attention. Full of righteous anger, and innocent of the peril facing her and those she loves, Swan makes it her mission to keep the boy safe from his terrifying father.
With characters who spring to life as vividly as if they were members of one's own family, and with the clear-eyed wisdom that illuminates the most tragic - and triumphant - aspects of human nature, Jenny Wingfield emerges as one of the most vital, engaging storytellers writing today. In The Homecoming of Samuel Lake she has created a memorable and lasting work of fiction.
37 out of 38 reviewers rated The Homecoming of Samuel Lake either 4 or 5 stars - one of our highest rated books ever! Here's what they have to say:
I didn't just read this book - I inhaled it - devoured it (Sue P)! This novel has it all. A quick, sharp writing style that's softened by the down-home voices of the characters, laugh out loud lines... Oh, and a villain who you'll want to take care of with your own two hands. Don't miss this book (Madeline Mora-Summonte)! (Reviewed by BookBrowse First Impression Reviewers).
Wingfield writes complex, believable heroes, although her villains are straight from central casting, but the writing is good... in scenes ripe with tension and dread.
Wingfield's film experience shows in her flair for dialogue. But the simplistic division between good and evil characters... may trouble some readers.
With a teeming cast of memorable characters and an often heartbreaking story line, this gracefully written novel is sure to appeal broadly... Marred only by its overstated emphasis on Ras's cruelty, it is the work of a born storyteller...
Sandra Dallas, New York Times bestselling author of Prayers for Sale and Whiter Than Snow
Jenny Wingfield's richly detailed account of good and evil in 1950s Arkansas will captivate anyone who treasures the values of faith and honesty that are a part of America's rural past. Wingfield's sense of people and place is uncanny. After reading The Homecoming of Samuel Lake, you too will believe in miracles.
Dorothea Benton Frank, New York Times bestselling author of Lowcountry Summer
Jenny Wingfield has given us a spectacular novel with The Homecoming of Samuel Lake. This ensemble of unforgettable characters will make you laugh out loud one minute, hold your breath the next, and weep when you least expect it. I didn't just love this book, I adored it.
Susan Rebecca White, New York Times bestselling author of A Soft Place to Land and Bound South
Readers will lift up their hands in praise of this layered tale of sin, grace, and redemption. The Homecoming of Samuel Lake has a supreme cast of characters including a flawed but righteous daddy, a makes-your-skin-crawl villain, and the sassiest, truest girl heroine this side of Scout Finch. Can I get an 'Amen'?
Fannie Flagg, bestselling author of Fried Green Tomatoes at the Whistle Stop Cafe
Raw, dark, and powerful. Southern Gothic at it's best. Puts one in mind of Erskine Caldwell and Flannery O'Connor.
Recent Reader Reviews
Rated of 5
by Lisa B. Miracles can happen The Homecoming of Samuel Lake is the kind of book that will stay with me a long time. The characters are so realistic and likable that I had to stop reading the book before bed because when bad things happened to the characters it upset me so much... Read More
Rated of 5
by Lori Homecoming of Samuel Lake I absolutely loved The Homecoming of Samuel Lake which I won in an ARC giveaway. It’s the best book I’ve read thus far this year. I had been apprehensive that it might be too religious for me, but it wasn’t at all. I agree with the positive... Read More
Rated of 5
by Mary Ended Too Soon This was a fabulous book. Characters were developed nicely and the story moved along. It was an easy read and I read it in three evenings.
Rated of 5
by Louise J A Family Reunion You Won't Forget! I absolutely loved this book and couldn’t put it down. For a debut novel, Jenny Wingfield has penned a winner!
This is an emotionally charged book that, at one point, had me sobbing like a baby! I could easily see this novel becoming a classic... Read More
Rated of 5
by David V. (Wayside, NJ) The Homecoming of Samuel Lake by Jenny Wingfield This book started out with a bang, literally. Based on the beginning I thought it would be an interesting read, but something seemed to be missing. It gave a good depiction of life in rural Arkansas and focused on a somewhat dysfunctional family.... Read More
Rated of 5
by Regina F. (TOPEKA, KANSAS) Highly Recommend! I could hardly put this book down. Wonderful debut book by Jenny Wingfield. Wingfield does a good job of captivating the reader in this tale of good vs evil. This is an emotionally charged book, with several breathtaking moments, and one moment... Read More
With her vivid descriptions of "the old home place," a hundred-acre farm in Arkansas in the 1950s, and her knack for capturing the local dialect in her writing, Jenny Wingfield's debut novel, The Homecoming of Samuel Lake, fits comfortably into the category of "literature of the American South."
This genre, also known as "Southern literature," dates back to the early 1600s and represents - in part or whole - the different cultures, histories, religions, dialects, social and political struggles, foods, climates, and landscapes specific to the geographic region dubbed the American South (see map). Themes of slavery and civil war are very common in Southern literature, as these historical events greatly affected the construction (and post-war reconstruction) of the area.
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