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.
Columbia County, Arkansas, 1956
John Moses couldn't have chosen a worse day, or a worse way to die, if he'd planned it for a lifetime. Which was possible. He was contrary as a mule. It was the weekend of the Moses family reunion, and everything was perfect - or at least perfectly normal - until John went and ruined it.
The reunion was always held the first Sunday in June. It had been that way forever. It was tradition. And John Moses had a thing about tradition. Every year or so, his daughter, Willadee (who lived way off down in Louisiana), would ask him to change the reunion date to the second Sunday in June, or the first Sunday in July, but John had a stock answer.
"I'd rather burn in Hell."
Willadee would remind her father that he didn't believe in Hell, and John would remind her that it was God he didn't believe in, the vote was still out about Hell. Then he would throw in that the worst thing about it was, if there did happen to be a hell, Willadee's husband, Samuel Lake, ...
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).
Full Review (1152 words).
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 ...
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