Saturday, August 13, 2011


Story 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 bedevilled three generations of the family. But it is Blade Ballenger, a traumatized eight-year-old neighbour, 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.
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:
I absolutely loved this book and couldn’t put it down.  For a debut novel, Jenny Wingfield has penned a winner!
The story opens in Columbia County, Arkansas, in 1956.  The entire extended Moses clan have gathered for their annual reunion.  John and Calla Moses have been hosting this reunion for years.  The majority of family members live close-by with the exception of John and Calla’s daughter, Willadee, who lives down in Louisianna.  She is married to Samuel Lake, a preacher of the Methodist religion which does not sit well with old John.  He sees the Methodists as: “…the vilest bunch of bandits alive”. 
Samuel and Willadee have three children:  twelve-year-old Noble, nine-year-old Bienville, and eleven-year-old Swan Lake.”  Three precocious children who were adept at keeping themselves entertained playing war games and spying on people.
Calla ran a store from the front of the house where folks could purchase the staples of everyday life.  Her store was open from dawn to dusk.  John, not one to be outdone, opened a bar at the back of the house and was open dusk to dawn with a sign that said: “Moses Never Closes”.
The family reunion is going along fine until tragedy strikes throwing the family into chaos.  Although the rural setting appears picturesque, there are many failings in the characters.
Swan Lake is an absolute fearless eleven-year-old and was compared to Scout in the movie ‘To Kill a Mockingbird’.  Although fearless she is chocked full of kindness, generosity and love.  Her eight-year-old neighbour, Blade Ballenger is a character that you are totally going to fall in love with and if you’re like me, you’ll be rooting for someone to save him from his horrifying father and indifferent mother.
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 someday.  Ms. Wingfield is an up and coming author to watch for.


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