A dream debut - I loved this as much as The Help!
Preacher-without-a-church Samuel Lake moves his family to his mother-in-law's house in rural Arkansas after his ornery old father-in-law John passes away. John used to run "Never Closes" - a bar that stayed open all night - from the back porch of his house. Calla, his widow, runs "Moses" - a convenience store that's open all day - from the front porch.
And in between, an extraordinary family lives an ordinary life.
Love it. Love it.— Jill
“Wingfield has the storyteller's gift, and writes her debut tale of preacher-without-a-church Samuel Lake and his family with the assurance of a seasoned author. After the death of his father-in-law, John, Samuel moves his wife, Willadee, and their three children into his mother-in-law's house in rural Arkansas. John used to run Never Closes -- a bar that stayed open all night -- from the back porch of his house. Calla, his wife, runs Moses -- a convenience store that is open all day -- from the front porch. Inside the house between those two porches, an extraordinary family lives a life complete with love, lust, heartbreak, heroics, and miracles. A perfect book for the many fans of The Help.”
— Jill Miner, Saturn Booksellers, Gaylord, MI
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.
Praise for The Homecoming of Samuel Lake
"Raw, dark, and powerful. Southern Gothic at its best. Puts one in mind of Erskine Caldwell and Flannery O'Connor."
—Fannie Flagg, bestselling author of Fried Green Tomatoes at the Whistle Stop Cafe
“Jenny Wingfield’s richly detailed account of good and evil in 1950s Arkansas will captivate anyone who treasures the values of faith and honesty that are a part of America’s rural past. Wingfield’s sense of people and place is uncanny. After reading The Homecoming of Samuel Lake, you too will believe in miracles.”—Sandra Dallas, New York Times bestselling author of Prayers for Sale and Whiter Than Snow
“Jenny Wingfield has given us a spectacular novel with The Homecoming of Samuel Lake. This ensemble of unforgettable characters will make you laugh out loud one minute, hold your breath the next, and weep when you least expect it. I didn’t just love this book, I adored it.”—Dorothea Benton Frank, New York Times bestselling author of Lowcountry Summer
“Readers will lift up their hands in praise of this layered tale of sin, grace, and redemption. The Homecoming of Samuel Lake has a supreme cast of characters including a flawed but righteous daddy, a makes-your-skin-crawl villain, and the sassiest, truest girl heroine this side of Scout Finch. Can I get an ‘Amen’?”—Susan Rebecca White, New York Times bestselling author of A Soft Place to Land and Bound South
“Wingfield writes complex, believable heroes . . . with redemption trumping tragedies in scenes ripe with tension and dread.”—Publishers Weekly