Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Review: The Homecoming of Samuel Lake by Jenny Wingfield

  • Hardcover: 352 pages
  • Publisher: Random House (July 12, 2011)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0385344082
  • ISBN-13: 978-0385344081

Product Description


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.

About the Author


Jenny Wingfield lives in Texas with her rescued dogs, cats, and horses. Her screenplay credits include The Man in the Moon and The Outsider. The Homecoming of Samuel Lake is her first novel.

My Review

This book is going to haunt me for a long time.  What an incredible debut novel from Jenny Wingfield.  This novel is set in rural Arkansas in the 1950s.  The extended family has gathered for an annual reunion when tragedy strikes.  And though the country setting seems picturesque, human failings lurk everywhere. There is plenty of goodness in this book but there is also evil.  An evil so vile that I had trouble reading at times.  But the writer has such an amazing way with words that you cannot stop reading.  You have to know what happens. It is a story about change and a story about faith, redemption and miracles.

This is not a children's story but the children are the heart and soul of this story.  Fearless eleven year old Swan Lake has been compared to Scout in To Kill A Mockingbird. And she is fearless and wonderful and has a heart overflowing with kindness and love.  Blade Ballenger, their eight year old neighbor stole my heart.  I wanted to jump into the pages of the book and save him myself from his terrifying father and ineffectual mother.  Everyone in the family goes through immense changes in this book including of course the title character, Swan's father, Samuel Lake.  Samuel is a preacher without a church trying to keep his family together and maintain his dignity. Every character in this book has a role to play in this brilliant work of fiction.

I do believe in miracles.  I cannot overemphasize how powerful this book is.   Highly recommend this brilliant debut novel.

1 comment:

  1. I don't want to read too much of your review because I am reading this now. But I did sneak a peak and saw that you liked it! Good to know.