Summary and book reviews of A Land More Kind Than Home by Wiley Cash

A Land More Kind Than Home

A Novel

By Wiley Cash

A Land More Kind Than Home
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  • Hardcover: Apr 2012,
    320 pages.
    Paperback: Jan 2013,
    336 pages.

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Book Summary

A stunning debut reminiscent of the beloved novels of John Hart and Tom Franklin, A Land More Kind Than Home is a mesmerizing literary thriller about the bond between two brothers and the evil they face in a small western North Carolina town.

For a curious boy like Jess Hall, growing up in Marshall means trouble when your mother catches you spying on grown-ups. Adventurous and precocious, Jess is enormously protective of his older brother, Christopher, a mute whom everyone calls Stump. Though their mother has warned them not to snoop, Stump can't help sneaking a look at something he's not supposed to - an act that will have catastrophic repercussions, shattering both his world and Jess's. It's a wrenching event that thrusts Jess into an adulthood for which he's not prepared. While there is much about the world that still confuses him, he now knows that a new understanding can bring not only a growing danger and evil - but also the possibility of freedom and deliverance as well.

Told by three resonant and evocative characters - Jess; Adelaide Lyle, the town midwife and moral conscience; and Clem Barefield, a sheriff with his own painful past - A Land More Kind Than Home is a haunting tale of courage in the face of cruelty and the power of love to overcome the darkness that lives in us all. These are masterful portrayals, written with assurance and truth, and they show us the extraordinary promise of this remarkable first novel.

One

I sat there in the car with the gravel dust blowing across the parking lot and saw the place for what it was, not what it was right at that moment in the hot sunlight, but for what it had been maybe twelve or fifteen years before: a real general store with folks gathered around the lunch counter, a line of people at the soda fountain, little children ordering ice cream of just about every flavor you could think of, hard candy by the quarter pound, moon pies and crackerjack and other things I hadn't thought about tasting in years. And if I'd closed my eyes I could've seen what the building had been forty or fifty years before that, back when I was a young woman: a screen door slamming shut, oil lamps lit and sputtering black smoke, dusty horses hitched to the posts out front where the iceman unloaded every Wednesday afternoon, the last stop on his route before he headed up out of the holler, the bed of his truck an inch deep with cold water. Back before Carson ...

Please be aware that this discussion guide may contain spoilers!
  1. Think about the epigraph the author chose to open the book and from which the novel's title derives. What is the significance of this particular quote? How does it set the novel's tone and mood? Explain what the title - "a land more kind than home" - signifies.
  2. The novel is told from three characters' perspectives. How does this add to the story and deepen it as it unfolds? How might it be different if it had been told from only one of the character's point of view?
  3. Talk about Carson Chambliss. Describe his character. Why does he have such a magnetic hold on his congregation, and especially on Julie? Is Julie a good mother? Can you understand why she behaved the way she did? Do you think she ...
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Reviews

BookBrowse

With 31 out of 32 reviewers rating it 4 or 5 stars, Wiley Cash's debut, A Land More Kind Than Home, is a top pick among BookBrowse readers! Here's what they have to say:

A Land More Kind Than Home is, without a doubt, one of absolute BEST books that I have read. It is so compelling... so beautifully written, I found myself going over most of it twice - once for the gripping story and again for the language. His words are just so mesmerizing (Debra C). Included in the mix: snake handling, a church closed off to the public with paper on the windows, a child caught in the midst of adult drama, and a sheriff fighting demons of his own. Wiley Cash is able to create a tension that both enthralls and exasperates (Becky M). The writing is exceptional; the descriptions, evocative of time and place; the voices, pitch perfect. From the first sentence, this was a book I couldn't put down. It is an amazing first novel (Dorothy M). Do yourself a favor and read this book! It's a must-read and a story that I will not soon forget (Daniel A).   (Reviewed by BookBrowse First Impression Reviewers).

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Media Reviews
Publishers Weekly

The languid atmosphere seduces, and Cash's fine first effort pulls the reader into a shadowy, tormented world where wolves prowl in the guise of sheep.

Kirkus Reviews

An evocative work about love, fate and redemption.

Library Journal

Starred Review. As lyrical, beautiful, and uncomplicated as the classic ballads of Appalachia, Cash's first novel is a tragic story of misplaced faith and love gone wrong... In a style reminiscent of Tom Franklin and John Hart, Cash captures the reader's imagination.

Author Blurb Gail Godwin, author of Evensong and The Finishing School
A Land More Kind Than Home has great cumulative power. Before I knew it I was grabbed by the ankle and pulled down into a full-blown Greek tragedy. I didn't sleep well after I finished it because I kept thinking. All childhoods are not the same. Cruelty and innocence dwell together and always will. I can just imagine the intense work - and the love - that has gone into this.

Reader Reviews
Becky H

A LAND MORE KIND THAN HOME
Wiley Cash has a way with words. He can make you see a rain storm or love with equal clarity. In A LAND MORE KIND THAN HOME he has written a beautiful elegy for love and death, faith and fear, condemnation and redemption. Told in three very different...   Read More

Louise J

Couldn't Put It Down!
The author did an excellent job at conveying to the reader the emotions that people show when they’re riled up and in the spirit of the moment and how things can be over-looked when caught up in the emotion packed moment of loud music, hand clapping ...   Read More

Diane S.

A Land More Kind Than Home
My goodness but this book was fantastic! His use of local color and dialect, his descriptions, his use of the weather to ratchet up the tension, and all this from a first time author. The town midwife, Adelaide, who sees it as her job to protect the ...   Read More

Carmen S. (Elkins, Arkansas)

You won't be able to put it down
A gripping well told story with memorable characters that you won't be able to put down. Some of these characters will haunt you.

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A Literary Inspiration: Ernest J. Gaines

In a letter to readers, Wiley Cash describes what it was like working with the inspirational Ernest J. Gaines at a fiction workshop in Lafayette, Louisiana. He writes:

I began writing A Land More Kind Than Home while working on my Ph.D. at the University of Louisiana, where I spent five long years sweating, celebrating Mardi Gras, and missing the mountains of North Carolina. While living in Lafayette, I took a fiction workshop with Ernest J. Gaines, who taught me that by writing about home I could recreate that place no matter where I lived. Gaines made this clear to me one afternoon while we were visiting an old cemetery near the plantation where he was born. He pointed to a grave marker and said, "You remember Snookum from A ...

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