Monday, September 5, 2011

Review: The Homecoming of Samuel Lake - Jenny Wingfield

 Title: The Homecoming of Samuel Lake

Author:  Jenny Wingfield
Pages: 352
Why I Read This Book: Found it on NetGalley, the blurb sounded intriguing and literary and (shoot me) the cover looked good
Rating: 5/5

Synopsis From Goodreads:
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.

My Review/Opinion:
With names like Willadee, Swan, Calla, Blade, Toy and more how could you not just HAVE to see what was up with these people! And once you decide to go in and meet them, these folks will make you feel so very welcome you won’t want to do anything but stay. 
 
Occasionally characters have carried me away so much that I can not wait to get back to a book, To Kill A Mockingbird was like that for me, so was The Help and in the same strong tradition comes The Homecoming of Samuel Lake. And boy, oh boy can Jenny Wingfield bring it. Her writing is an effortless example of subtlety in word but a plethora of emotion. 

This family, this extended family of Willadee and Sam, ill-fated John and the strong Calla, and the kids…especially the kids, are put through trial and tribulation, change and adaptation. Shells are broken and forged. True nature is shown and hidden. And not a word is wasted in description or on event.  As to the events, and avoiding spoilers, I am impressed and grateful for the delicate handling and restraint from the typical sensationalism usually surrounding such events of recent popular fiction.
 
One of this books true strengths is its timelessness. Taking place in the 1950’s I never got the feeling it couldn’t have taken place anytime. Taking place in an impoverished white area I never got the feeling it couldn’t have happened to any family of any race. Taking place in the south I never got the feeling it couldn’t have been anywhere. Simply put this book transcends those confines of era, class, and geography to tell a family story about characters so true to life with actions and emotions it would be feasible to meet any one of them just walking down the street.  

If I were to downplay anything about this book, which I have a hard time doing, it would be its title. While Samuel is a strong character and his homecoming is of essence to all that occurs, it is the relationships between the kids, and especially the kids and their Uncle Toy that pulls the heartstrings.

I left The Homecoming of Samuel Lake feeling so sad that I wouldn’t get to spend more time  at Moses and Never Closes with the Lakes and all their friends, but I felt 100% that the book was complete when I read the last sentence and because of that completeness, I left totally (if nostalgically) happy.

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