The Homecoming of Samuel Lake
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.

The Homecoming of Samuel Lake Details

TitleThe Homecoming of Samuel Lake
Author
LanguageEnglish
ReleaseJul 12th, 2011
PublisherRandom House
Rating
GenreFiction, Historical, Historical Fiction, American, Southern

The Homecoming of Samuel Lake Review

  • Shelby *trains flying monkeys*
    January 1, 1970
    The Lake family heads home to the Moses clan every year for the yearly reunion. Samuel Lake usually leaves his wife Willadee and three children there while he runs to see what congregation he will be assigned to preach at for the coming year. This year Willadee's father dies and they find out that Sam has no flock to preach at. So they move in at the Willadee's mom's home. That happens to be a store and all night bar. The Lakes youngest child Swan is mostly the main character, but you come to kn The Lake family heads home to the Moses clan every year for the yearly reunion. Samuel Lake usually leaves his wife Willadee and three children there while he runs to see what congregation he will be assigned to preach at for the coming year. This year Willadee's father dies and they find out that Sam has no flock to preach at. So they move in at the Willadee's mom's home. That happens to be a store and all night bar. The Lakes youngest child Swan is mostly the main character, but you come to know this whole family over the course of this book. Swan totally steals the show for me though, she is spunky and just the most perfect character. Plus, Swan knows that her uncle Toy is going to be her new best friend. He just doesn't know it yet. Toy is one of those haunted characters, he lost a leg during service, came home found out his wife was sleeping around, murdered her lover...you know..just an average guy. Don't think badly of him though. I adored him. His wife Bernice was Sam Lake's previous fiancé before he met Willadee. She knows that she could have Sam back just like that so her planning starts. Then you have the evil man who lives next door. Ras Ballenger, who abuses his wife, son (Blade)and animals with gleeful abandon. (Be warned that there are some scenes that aren't pretty)You know throughout the book that some kind of evil is lurking but I wasn't sure if Bernice would bring it or that turd Ras. (Ras is that bad guy that will have you squeezing your book pages in your hands to keep from wanting to punch him in the face.)I'm totally crapping the bed on this review trying to get my point across so I'm just going to share a couple of the quotes. I totally loved this book.Preachers' kids are the worst kind.Nobody ever said the worst kind of what, but the implication was that all preachers' kids had illicit adventures, and Swan could never feel close to anyone who looked down on her for things she hadn't had a chance to do yet.The hard part about this plan was going to be coming up with a good enough lie to explain why she'd been where she'd been, but Swan had tremendous confidence in her lying ability. And if worst came to worst, she could always tell the truth. Booksource: library My friend Cher's review did much better than I did on getting her feelings across for this little gem of a book.
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  • Dem
    January 1, 1970
    Jenny Wingfield's debut novel The Homecoming of Samuel Lake is a real gem !Set in rural south Arkansas in the 1950s this story is about the Moses family and when good and evil cross paths and its consequences, but above all else it is about the love courage and struggle of a family and rural live. I loved the title of this Novel and was intrigued to see where this story was going and Jenny Winfield’s tale really flows from the opening line . ( I really love a novel with a good opening line).“ Jo Jenny Wingfield's debut novel The Homecoming of Samuel Lake is a real gem !Set in rural south Arkansas in the 1950s this story is about the Moses family and when good and evil cross paths and its consequences, but above all else it is about the love courage and struggle of a family and rural live. I loved the title of this Novel and was intrigued to see where this story was going and Jenny Winfield’s tale really flows from the opening line . ( I really love a novel with a good opening line).“ John Moses couldn’t have chosen a worse day, or a worse way to die, if he planned it for a lifetime”Samuel Lake is a preacher who has lost his ministry and goes to live with his wife's family in rural Arkansas with their 3 children and the story unfolds from here and we spend the summer with the Moses family and go through happy sad and some cruel times with them. This is a character driven story and I loved watching those characters develop and come alive, I could feel their emotions throughout the read and I fell in love with Swan, I loved her courage and how she took Blade under her wing, I enjoyed the character of Willadee, such a good person and so quiet and yet so strong. I loved Toy for the way he watched out for the kids and the family and I could go on and on about all the wonderful ( and not so wonderful) characters in this book but think I will leave that for a bookclub discussion.This is one of those books that made me exclaim out loud, there is a lot of happy times and a lot of sad times throughout this story. Some people may even find this a tough read but it is a terrific story and a real page turner. Jenny Wingfield does not spend time on long descriptive passages she has a story to tell and she just gets on and tells it and what a great story it is.There is also wit in this Novel and I found myself underlining sentences as I was reading as they had me laughing out loud. I loved every single thing about The Homecoming of Samuel Lake, from the sweet Southern charm to the likable and dislikeable characters to the sense of time and place.This is certainly one for my favourites list.
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  • Florence (Lefty) MacIntosh
    January 1, 1970
    There’s a lot of well deserved buzz about this debut novel. Circa 1950's Southern lit with terrific characters, clever dialog and a story that hooks from page one. If you’re into realistic fiction and looking for some great escapism you’ve found it. In a nutshell it’s the story of Samuel Lake, a flockless Methodist minister forced to return to his roots, the home of his wife’s family on a backwoods farm in Arkansas, a tight knit clan with a whole heap of problems of their own. The author strikes There’s a lot of well deserved buzz about this debut novel. Circa 1950's Southern lit with terrific characters, clever dialog and a story that hooks from page one. If you’re into realistic fiction and looking for some great escapism you’ve found it. In a nutshell it’s the story of Samuel Lake, a flockless Methodist minister forced to return to his roots, the home of his wife’s family on a backwoods farm in Arkansas, a tight knit clan with a whole heap of problems of their own. The author strikes a nice balance, a decidedly tragic story of abuse, murder & infidelity lightened by gentle humour, a mix of angst and absurdity. For instance, the farm boasts a 24 hour booze bar in the basement called “Moses Never Closes” which doesn’t stop Samuel from setting up a holy-roller Revival Tent on the property as well. What with wives dragging their husbands out of the bar over to the revival tent for a shot of religion and the faithful heading for the bar after a hard day of praying for a shot of whisky – a mutually beneficial spinoff trade is developed. Worth reading alone for the shear pleasure of the main character, 11 year old Swan Lake. I swear she’s as spunky, sassy & full of innocent wisdom as Scout in To Kill a Mockingbird. The other characters are wonderful as well, each with their own strengths & weaknesses, their own ways of coping with whatever life throws at them, and believe me a whole lot get’s thrown at them in this novel. Negative: The dastardly Ras Ballenger an abuser extraordinaire who pushes all your emotional buttons. Problem was he was so cookie-cutter EVIL it leaned towards manipulative. If Wingfield had written the villain with some depth, I’m thinking Norman Bates character in Psycho, this could have been brilliant instead of just great. All is forgiven though, offset by a satisfyingly realistic conclusion – I liked the ending – a lot. Content warning (view spoiler)[Graphic descriptions of animal abuse. I’d have passed on this had I known and in the process missed out on a great book. I’m a total candy-ass when it comes to animals in pain. I handled it so likely you can too. Spousal & child abuse are also depicted – with reasonable finesse (hide spoiler)]For the blended genre's of Southern Lit with realistic fiction: 4 ½ stars rounded up to 5“If You are love, he roared, then love ain't much to crow about.”
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  • Angela M
    January 1, 1970
    From the title you might assume this is just about Samuel Lake , the minister who loses his congregations and moves from church to church but the precocious, kind hearted , eleven year old Swan Lake and the little boy named Blade that she tries desperately to protect were for me the center of the story. From the title you might assume that it's just about Samuel Lake but it is about so much more - good and evil , darkness and joy , love and infidelity , caring and abuse , horrific deeds , and th From the title you might assume this is just about Samuel Lake , the minister who loses his congregations and moves from church to church but the precocious, kind hearted , eleven year old Swan Lake and the little boy named Blade that she tries desperately to protect were for me the center of the story. From the title you might assume that it's just about Samuel Lake but it is about so much more - good and evil , darkness and joy , love and infidelity , caring and abuse , horrific deeds , and the loss of innocence of young children who witness evil before their very eyes and suffer at the hands of it. But yes , it is ultimately about Samuel Lake and how he discovers that he can "tend to God's business " as well as his family . It's also about a good man named Toy Moses , Samuel's brother in law , and my other favorite character in the novel whose actions reflect the true meaning of family .You can read the description or other reviews that tell more about the story. I'll just say that is one that I'm glad I didn't miss . It's gripping, heartbreaking but yet so hopeful. Highly recommended but not for the faint of heart . Swan Lake will remain for me one those unforgettable characters .
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  • Jen
    January 1, 1970
    This was a gem of a book. Truly "a diamond in a turnip patch." This is a story of innocence ending when bad things happen to good people. A story of redemption, hope and faith. Of miracles happening when one least expects it, especially for Sam Lake, a preacher who is without a pulpit and his faith beginning to wane; and his daughter, Swan Lake, who captures the innocence and purity that only a child can have. Grab a tissue as this story will make you chuckle, cry and make your heart swell. 4.5 This was a gem of a book. Truly "a diamond in a turnip patch." This is a story of innocence ending when bad things happen to good people. A story of redemption, hope and faith. Of miracles happening when one least expects it, especially for Sam Lake, a preacher who is without a pulpit and his faith beginning to wane; and his daughter, Swan Lake, who captures the innocence and purity that only a child can have. Grab a tissue as this story will make you chuckle, cry and make your heart swell. 4.5 stars.
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  • Crystal Craig
    January 1, 1970
    Recommended Reading The Homecoming of Samuel Lake is just one of those books you must read. My attention grabbed as soon as I read the first sentence."John Moses couldn’t have chosen a worse day, or a worse way to die if he’d planned it for a lifetime."The story takes place in the backwoods of Arkansas. The characters, especially the children are fun. As I read, I found myself laughing out loud several times. "Here I've been, dogging your tracks like you were some kind of hero, when all you rea Recommended Reading The Homecoming of Samuel Lake is just one of those books you must read. My attention grabbed as soon as I read the first sentence."John Moses couldn’t have chosen a worse day, or a worse way to die if he’d planned it for a lifetime."The story takes place in the backwoods of Arkansas. The characters, especially the children are fun. As I read, I found myself laughing out loud several times. "Here I've been, dogging your tracks like you were some kind of hero, when all you really are is an old, one-legged bootlegger. I bet you never saved anybody's life. You prob'ly lost your leg running away from a fight. And as for Yam Ferguson, he must have been one punny sombuck if he let himself get done in by the likes of you. I wouldn't be scared of you in a graveyard on a dark night."If I could ask the Jenny Wingfield one question, it would be, why the odd character names? They didn't take away from the story, but with each new character introduced, I did a double-take; really? That's their name? Odd names aside, this was a beautifully told story, a great first novel. I look forward to the author's future works.
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  • Cathrine ☯️
    January 1, 1970
    DNFI made it a third of the way. I do not want to read books that contain animal and child abuse.
  • Karen❄️
    January 1, 1970
    4.5 starsThis book is just so good, touched on every emotion, I loved the Moses clan and especially the children.
  • Cher
    January 1, 1970
    4.5 stars - Incredible. I really loved it.I blew through this one in 2 days and loved it from the first paragraph. It's southern lit set in Arkansas in the 1950's, which does not have a romance-centric plot and does not focus on the overdone racial tropes. Can we please, please get more of these?? The author delicately balances the power of hope against a realistic portrayal of the cruelty in our world. Her characters are memorable and there are some great humorous moments. There are several cha 4.5 stars - Incredible. I really loved it.I blew through this one in 2 days and loved it from the first paragraph. It's southern lit set in Arkansas in the 1950's, which does not have a romance-centric plot and does not focus on the overdone racial tropes. Can we please, please get more of these?? The author delicately balances the power of hope against a realistic portrayal of the cruelty in our world. Her characters are memorable and there are some great humorous moments. There are several characters that are incredibly endearing, another that you will absolutely love to hate (cough, homewrecker, cough), and another that is so cruel he will give you the heebie jeebies. Be forewarned that there is animal cruelty in this one, particularly towards horses and cats, but it was not so graphic that my tender heart could not stomach it. This is an easy novel to recommend, and I look forward to reading the author's next novel.-------------------------------------------------Favorite Quote: They’d have people out looking for her, and nothing makes grown-ups quite so mad as finding a child safe when they’d been scared silly that they might find that child dead.First Sentence: John Moses couldn’t have chosen a worse day, or a worse way to die, if he’d planned it for a lifetime.
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  • Melissa Crytzer Fry
    January 1, 1970
    This novel will have you thinking about faith and miracles in a whole different light. Debut novelist Jenny Wingfield conjures a cast of characters fresh and imaginative – all set against the lush backdrop of a rural Arkansas farming landscape in the ‘50s.“I think maybe miracles are something everybody has to find out about for themselves.” This astute knowledge comes from one of the key characters, a likable, resilient pre-teen Swan, and gets to the heart of this story that focuses on the famil This novel will have you thinking about faith and miracles in a whole different light. Debut novelist Jenny Wingfield conjures a cast of characters fresh and imaginative – all set against the lush backdrop of a rural Arkansas farming landscape in the ‘50s.“I think maybe miracles are something everybody has to find out about for themselves.” This astute knowledge comes from one of the key characters, a likable, resilient pre-teen Swan, and gets to the heart of this story that focuses on the family struggles of an out-of-work preacher.Wingfield’s narrative style – using an observant, omniscient point of view – allows the reader to explore a number of dark topics: manipulation, abuse, dishonesty, infidelity, animal cruelty. They are, however, tempered with countless laugh-out-loud moments, including (among others) the name of the grandfather’s bar, “Moses Never Closes.” And of course, there is hope and love peppered throughout this story that follows the lives of four incredible, children, their parents, and aunts/uncles. And no story would be a good story without a villain; Wingfield delivers just that, a character named Ras, who is so despicable and abhorrent that he still gives me the shivers. (Warning: not an easy read for some).Perhaps I was drawn also by Wingfield’s portrayal of religion; the revival scenes and even the thoughts of the preacher, Samuel, were reminiscent of the stories my mom tells of revivals in the ‘50s in her hometown of Pennsylvania. (For anyone shy of religion, this is not a book with a religious agenda. In fact, often the religion takes a back seat to other pivotal plot threads.)Even though this story has heartbreaking, heartbreaking elements, I think Wingfield expertly wove reality and hope into the story. The ending was not a “perfect” and “wrapped in a bow,” “tidy” ending (I personally love endings that aren't perfectly wrapped). But in so many ways it was a peaceful ending – a reminder that each of us must come to peace with our circumstances, whether they are good or bad.I’m looking forward to more of Wingfield’s work!
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  • Bette Crosby
    January 1, 1970
    Awesome book...loved the story, the pacing, the language. Were it possible, this would be a six star fro me.
  • Cheri
    January 1, 1970
    The Moses clan gathers annually on the old hundred acre family homestead, home now to Calla and John Moses. Annually, Samuel Lake and his wife, Willadee Moses, head from Louisiana to the family reunion in Arkansas with their three children in tow. Samuel Lake is a good and loving husband to Willadee, a loving father to his children Noble, Swan and Bienville, a passionate preacher to his congregation.Samuel and Willadee’s daughter, eleven year old Swan (yes, Swan Lake) is a spirited little girl, The Moses clan gathers annually on the old hundred acre family homestead, home now to Calla and John Moses. Annually, Samuel Lake and his wife, Willadee Moses, head from Louisiana to the family reunion in Arkansas with their three children in tow. Samuel Lake is a good and loving husband to Willadee, a loving father to his children Noble, Swan and Bienville, a passionate preacher to his congregation.Samuel and Willadee’s daughter, eleven year old Swan (yes, Swan Lake) is a spirited little girl, not afraid of much, and with a strong sense of right and wrong. Others have compared her to Scout Finch (To Kill a Mockingbird), and while this is a lovely and charming book with similar themes of justice, set in a small southern town, this book stands on its own merits. Swan really captured me, although each of the characters gets a fairly equal part in this story that centers around Swan’s intention to save a young neighbor boy from his father’s ways. Set in 1950’s Arkansas with a cast of characters that in other hands might end up being too trite, Jenny Wingfield keeps each character from being overly predictable. “The Homecoming of Samuel Lake” is Wingfield’s debut novel. “I was picking them for that man,” he said softly, nodding toward the house. “That uncle.” Calla tipped back her head and sucked air in through her nose, the way a person does when a feeling gets to be too much to handle. When was the last time anyone did anything special for Toy…” …After a second, she said, “Did you know flowers bloom better if you pick them?”He shook his head solemnly.“Well, they do. It’s like you gave them a compliment, and all of a sudden they start doing everything they can to get another one.”
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  • Diane Barnes
    January 1, 1970
    First, let me thank Cher for writing such a good review that I went straight to my library and checked this one out. I hadn't come across it before and it wasn't on my book radar at all. I opened it up to page 1 and fell in.In 1956, Samuel Lake takes his wife, Willadee, and his 3 kids to her family reunion at the old home place in Arkansas. The Moses family is big, rambunctious, noisy and loving, with a lot of history, resentment, jealousies and tragedy and joy among them, just like most familie First, let me thank Cher for writing such a good review that I went straight to my library and checked this one out. I hadn't come across it before and it wasn't on my book radar at all. I opened it up to page 1 and fell in.In 1956, Samuel Lake takes his wife, Willadee, and his 3 kids to her family reunion at the old home place in Arkansas. The Moses family is big, rambunctious, noisy and loving, with a lot of history, resentment, jealousies and tragedy and joy among them, just like most families. And there's more in store as this novel takes off and sends the reader in so many different directions that it's almost impossible to put it down. The best thing about this book was that everything was so real. The characters were REAL, their conversations were REAL, the kids were REAL. There was humor mixed in with the sadness, hope mixed in with the really bad things that happened. Southern cooking was very much a part of this family, as was all the golden southern phrases that I remember from my childhood.This author brought these people to life and told a tale that had me spellbound for two days. Most of this book is filtered through the eyes of Swan, who gets my vote for the best 11 year old girl in the book world, outside of Scout Finch in To Kill a Mockingbird. She's sassy, honest, smart and brave, with a great big heart. No one stands a chance with her, once her mind is made up.I hope you'll give this book a chance, it deserves a wide readership. As good as it is, it's just a first novel, so we hopefully have more to come from Jenny Wingfield.
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  • Laura
    January 1, 1970
    This book started out as a 5-star read. Then the villains became overly villainous and one-dimensional, the writing was just ok, and when it wasn't predictable it stretched believability beyond belief. There are a couple of characters who are interesting, but not worth reading the book for. My advice? Don't waste your time. Oh, and if you have issues with domestic violence, child abuse and animal abuse, then you have three more reasons to skip this one.
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  • Deb
    January 1, 1970
    Gushing, just gushing with love for this book. Ugh I could cry again just writing about it. It is extremely rare that a book touches me like this one just did. It is also rare for me to give anything 5 stars but when a book evokes so much emotion that you cannot control yourself when reading in public, that is a sure sign of something phenomenal.I loved this family: sassy Swan, and teddy bear Toy, Willadee and Sam, Blade, Calla all of them! Well, except Bernice of course.Love, love, love.
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  • Diane S ☔
    January 1, 1970
    4 1/2 The story about a preacher and his family in the 1950's in Arkansas> when Sam Lake is not given a church for the year by the Methodist congregation the Lakes return home to Arkansas. There they encounter violence, but redemption too and the wonderful power of family and love. It is the children that make the book, Swan Lake is 10 and has 2 brothers and a small boy that she needs to save from the violence of his father. Another extremely well written 1st novel.
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  • Sheree
    January 1, 1970
    I'm not ready to leave, it can't be over ... this is hands down, without a doubt, my favourite read this year and I can't thank my friend Staci enough for recommending it. You know when you come across a treasure that is too good not to share, a book that you want everyone to read and love just as much as you do. This is that book. To borrow words from The Homecoming of Samuel Lake ... it's "enough to make your heart fill up and burst"Jenny Wingfield's writing is pure bliss ... it's all warmth a I'm not ready to leave, it can't be over ... this is hands down, without a doubt, my favourite read this year and I can't thank my friend Staci enough for recommending it. You know when you come across a treasure that is too good not to share, a book that you want everyone to read and love just as much as you do. This is that book. To borrow words from The Homecoming of Samuel Lake ... it's "enough to make your heart fill up and burst"Jenny Wingfield's writing is pure bliss ... it's all warmth and honesty, it filled me with joy, tugged at my heart strings, made my face ache from smiling, it made me sigh and giggle and cry. The Moses/Lake family; Samuel, Willadee, Calla, Toy, "Moses Never Closes" "Moses honesty" and the irrepressible, sassy, brave Swan ... they marched straight into my heart. I love these people, I don't even want to call them characters, I feel comfortable with them, like I'm home.just some of my favourite quotes: Her parents certainly loved God. Swan did, too, she was sure, even though she bent His rules with some degree of regularity, and prayed only When It Was Important. She'd never been one to wear God out with small talk.Swan said, "This means we're really poor, right?""Not really poor. Really poor people don't have enough to eat, and can't afford to go to the doctor when they get sick. There's a difference between being poor and being prudent."Swan sighed. "I don't suppose there's any way to know how long we'll be prudent is there? Because I'd sure hate to be prudent at Christmas."from Toy"It's hard to believe, but there are people in this world who are low enough" - he paused for emphasis - "sorry enough" - he paused again - "pure pig shit worthless enough to maliciously harm a child."from Calla"Did you know flowers bloom better if you pick them?"He shook his head solemnly."Well, they do. It's like you gave them a compliment, and all of a sudden they start doing everything they can to get another."Jenny Wingfield doesn't shy away from addressing dark, heartbreaking issues but it's tempered with humour and a charming ambiance. Family, love, faith, hope, miracles and pearls of homespun wisdom that just gladden your heart (as corny as that sounds I swear it's true.) Ok time for me to stop gushing before I give anything away, the delight in this book is experiencing it all, yourself. The Homecoming Of Samuel Lake has earned a special place in my heart ... keeping illustrious company with the likes of The Help, Best Kept Secret, The Guernsey Literary & Potato Peel Pie Society, Saving CeeCeeHoneycutt & Eternal On The Water.
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  • Tony
    January 1, 1970
    Wingfield, Jenny. THE HOMECOMING OF SAMUEL LAKE. (2011). ***. This first novel from this author who has several successful screenplays under her belt is likely destined to be a best seller. The reviews have all been glowing – to the point where the reader feels constrained to love the book, too. I thought it was capably written, but on the level of a YA novel told like Bible stories for children. It is the story of the Lake family from southern Arkansas. It starts out with the celebration of the Wingfield, Jenny. THE HOMECOMING OF SAMUEL LAKE. (2011). ***. This first novel from this author who has several successful screenplays under her belt is likely destined to be a best seller. The reviews have all been glowing – to the point where the reader feels constrained to love the book, too. I thought it was capably written, but on the level of a YA novel told like Bible stories for children. It is the story of the Lake family from southern Arkansas. It starts out with the celebration of the annual family reunion. All the relatives are there to celebrate with the patriarch, John Moses, this annual fest. John, well on in years and filled with increasing doubt about his place in the world, is quickly gotten rid of when he commits suicide with the aid of a shotgun while the party is going on outside. The focus then shifts to his daughter, Willadee Moses – married to Samuel Lake, a Methodist preacher who is too far to the right for a permanent congregation – and her children, especially Swan, their daughter, a piece of work just about 12 years old. There are lots of standard characters included, all, it seems, pulled from Central Casting. The conflict between good and evil is exemplified by the interaction between the Moses/Lake families and their neighbors – including a sadistic father who beats his kids, kills cats on a routine basis, and trains horses using a whip. As you read on, you can’t help but think of the Tales of Uncle Remus, not that Uncle Remus is there, but the style of Joel Chandler Harris is there. The novel is a collection of fables, each of which ends up with the requisite moral, while leading into the next series of tales about the adventures of these southern families. Interesting reading, but – in my opinion – highly overrated in the reviews I’ve read.
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  • ☮Karen
    January 1, 1970
    I love this book and this author. I have discovered that she wrote the screenplay for The Man in the Moon, one of my favorite coming of age movies; so no wonder I loved this! Another reason could be that it reminded me a lot of To Kill a Mockingbird and the Joe R. Lansdale books I have enjoyed. Similar setting in the rural South, similar characters -- a couple of precoscious children with gumption to spare, adults spewing wisdom, and an evil neighbor who is 50 kinds of despicable. I will never c I love this book and this author. I have discovered that she wrote the screenplay for The Man in the Moon, one of my favorite coming of age movies; so no wonder I loved this! Another reason could be that it reminded me a lot of To Kill a Mockingbird and the Joe R. Lansdale books I have enjoyed. Similar setting in the rural South, similar characters -- a couple of precoscious children with gumption to spare, adults spewing wisdom, and an evil neighbor who is 50 kinds of despicable. I will never complain about my neighbors again. I recommend!
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  • Camie
    January 1, 1970
    The homecoming is that of Samuel Lake, an out of work Methodist minister, who finding himself without a flock, during the depression era, returns to his Alabama backwoods roots and his wife and children at the old Moses farm, where three generations of the family clan gather. While Grandma Calla runs a general store by day in the front of the house, Uncle Toy runs an all night bar at the back, and Samuel himself holds a nightly tent revival in a neighboring field, the three Lake children, most n The homecoming is that of Samuel Lake, an out of work Methodist minister, who finding himself without a flock, during the depression era, returns to his Alabama backwoods roots and his wife and children at the old Moses farm, where three generations of the family clan gather. While Grandma Calla runs a general store by day in the front of the house, Uncle Toy runs an all night bar at the back, and Samuel himself holds a nightly tent revival in a neighboring field, the three Lake children, most notably feisty eleven year old Swan, are learning what it's like to come of age as goodness and evil play tug of war around them. The evil comes mostly in the form of a neighbor who mistreats his wife, children, and animals, and who carries a grudge towards the Moses clan when they try to intervene. Parts of this book are difficult to read. This is an emotional bittersweet tale of sin, redemption, justice, dishonesty, honesty, and even miracles. The book cover states this is Southern Gothic at its best and likens its raw and powerful darkness to something written by Flannery O'Connor. The ending is especially good. 4 stars
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  • Pamela
    January 1, 1970
    Raw and powerful, Southern-Gothic, faith-based fiction well-written; woven with touches of humor and childlike mischievousness and a whole heap of delightful storytelling.“I think maybe miracles are something everybody has to find out about for themselves. Telling them about it don’t make them believe, it just makes them think you’re crazy as a Bessie bug.” Faith – Hope – Fear - Honesty - Betrayal – Courage – Sin – Redemption – Darkness and Light - “The Homecoming of Samuel Lake” is all of these Raw and powerful, Southern-Gothic, faith-based fiction well-written; woven with touches of humor and childlike mischievousness and a whole heap of delightful storytelling.“I think maybe miracles are something everybody has to find out about for themselves. Telling them about it don’t make them believe, it just makes them think you’re crazy as a Bessie bug.” Faith – Hope – Fear - Honesty - Betrayal – Courage – Sin – Redemption – Darkness and Light - “The Homecoming of Samuel Lake” is all of these things. Moreover, it’s about family and friendship and the unifying power of unconditional love – a love so strong it can weather any storm. And storms come in all shapes and sizes, some born of the natural world and some are devilishly man-made. “There are moments in our lives that we more or less stumble upon – moments that we could not have predicted, and we’re not prepared for, and would have done almost anything to avoid . . .”“The Homecoming of Samuel Lake” taps into many genres: Family, Coming-of-age, Suspense, Southern-fiction, Drama-noir, Faith-based-fiction…. It also deviates a bit from standard linear storytelling. In a figurative way, the title is quite fitting. The story, told from various viewpoints, is not centered on Samuel Lake, per se, but rather, events encompassing him and his family when they are forced to move back to their hometown in Arkansas after being ousted from a preaching assignment in Louisiana to take a mandatory year sabbatical. “Church members are funny . . . You can’t hardly please ‘em and there’s always a faction – That’s a bunch of people that get together and drink coffee at somebody’s house after church, when the message was too strong and they got their toes stepped on – anyway, there’s always a faction that’s trying to get rid of the preacher for one reason or another . . . sooner or later the faction wins out.” During the time of being cast out, Samuel’s faith is tested to the breaking point: Loss of income, loss of a loved one, a scheming in-law, demeaning employment, gallivanting children, accidents, a confrontational neighbor….. But when his only daughter, Swan (my favorite character, who I dearly loved and easily identified with) gets entangled in a tug-and-war match between good and evil (an evil so sinister and brutal, it’s hard to fathom let alone speak of) Samuel comes undone. Broken. Shattered. Over the edge. Crushed. Sometimes though, it takes being devastatingly broken to be made whole in a glorious way that wouldn't have been possible otherwise."Sometimes a sense of loss can be so great that anyone who offers comfort seems to be making small of it."Aside from extreme creative liberties taken concerning Blue Laws in 1957 Arkansas, and the Sheriff being so lackadaisical regarding the law with the exception at the end, I passionately enjoyed this novel. And though often I have trouble reading through passages of abuse, animal or human, Wingfield writes with such tasteful respectability I was able to read through those portions, albeit with tears. Four southern-comfort-storytelling stars.
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  • Tina
    January 1, 1970
    Congrats Jenny Wingfield on a very good debut novel! I mentally set myself up before I finished the first chapter. I was thinking this was going to be like a cream puff - flaky on the outside and creamy on the inside with not a lot of flavor. Boy, was I wrong. The Moses and Lake families are hit with one tragedy right after the next in 1956 Arkansas and Mrs. Wingfield has created some realistic characters that you can believe in. I felt like I could walk in the Moses house, pour myself a glass o Congrats Jenny Wingfield on a very good debut novel! I mentally set myself up before I finished the first chapter. I was thinking this was going to be like a cream puff - flaky on the outside and creamy on the inside with not a lot of flavor. Boy, was I wrong. The Moses and Lake families are hit with one tragedy right after the next in 1956 Arkansas and Mrs. Wingfield has created some realistic characters that you can believe in. I felt like I could walk in the Moses house, pour myself a glass of ice tea and help myself to the leftover ham and biscuits on the back of the stove. Family drama, family grief and, finally, a families love conquers all in The Homecoming of Samuel Lake. Well written with wit, sadness and tragedy. Well done Jenny Wingfield. When can I read your next novel?
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  • Sonja Arlow
    January 1, 1970
    3 starsI have yet to read Southern Fiction I don’t like and this book was no exception. Set in the 1950’s Arkansas this story has a little of everything - romance, murder, compassion, cruelty and the value of family. The characters are all lively and especially the children were a delight. We have righteous Samuel, strong-willed Willadee, scheming Bernice, lively Swan, reserved Toy and of course young Blade who will crawl into anyone’s heart.The story has a few sub plots but for me it really re 3 ½ starsI have yet to read Southern Fiction I don’t like and this book was no exception. Set in the 1950’s Arkansas this story has a little of everything - romance, murder, compassion, cruelty and the value of family. The characters are all lively and especially the children were a delight. We have righteous Samuel, strong-willed Willadee, scheming Bernice, lively Swan, reserved Toy and of course young Blade who will crawl into anyone’s heart.The story has a few sub plots but for me it really revolved around Swan Lake and her new friend Blade Ballenger. Blade grows up in an abusive household, with a father that uses the same techniques for breaking horses on his son. Swan makes it her mission to keep the boy safe from his terrifying father.The ending was what made me hesitate to give this a full 4 stars. It doesn’t spoil the book but did feel a bit out of place with the rest of the story. The majority of characters were also presented as either very good or very bad with nothing in between.But ultimately this was a compulsively readable story that is meant to warm your heart and leave you feeling happy afterwards so go make a big pot of tea, put your feet up and enjoy.
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  • Imi
    January 1, 1970
    Torn on this one. On the one hand, it was a 5 star read pretty much the whole way through. I loved this family and all the characters were so full of life. But the ending absolutely crushed me and not necessarily in a good way. It was too much for me. I think I found the tone too jarring and contrasting. Most of the book is full of hope and love, but then there are the horrific violent acts (view spoiler)[committed on children including the rape at the end (hide spoiler)]. I mean there was viole Torn on this one. On the one hand, it was a 5 star read pretty much the whole way through. I loved this family and all the characters were so full of life. But the ending absolutely crushed me and not necessarily in a good way. It was too much for me. I think I found the tone too jarring and contrasting. Most of the book is full of hope and love, but then there are the horrific violent acts (view spoiler)[committed on children including the rape at the end (hide spoiler)]. I mean there was violence throughout the novel, but it was the scene at the end that really pushed it over the edge for me. It was just too much. Shame because I loved the rest of it so, so much and truly felt for these characters.By the way, I'd still highly recommend this. Maybe it will be easier to stomach if you go in a bit more forewarned about the violence than I was?Maybe I'll write a full review on this later, but those are my immediate thoughts on finishing. OK I'm going to go and cry my eyes out now.
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  • ☕Laura
    January 1, 1970
    As I started reading this book I thought it was going to be one thing and then, boom, it was another thing entirely. I love a book which can take me by surprise like that. Based on the first couple of chapters I was expecting an enjoyable but somewhat light-hearted quirky-characters-in-a-large-southern-family type of story. What I was not expecting were the dark themes which would later emerge: suicide, abuse, murder, incarnate evil. What is truly masterful is the way Jenny Wingfield manages to As I started reading this book I thought it was going to be one thing and then, boom, it was another thing entirely. I love a book which can take me by surprise like that. Based on the first couple of chapters I was expecting an enjoyable but somewhat light-hearted quirky-characters-in-a-large-southern-family type of story. What I was not expecting were the dark themes which would later emerge: suicide, abuse, murder, incarnate evil. What is truly masterful is the way Jenny Wingfield manages to imbue her novel with a sense of hopefulness despite all of this. In the end, this book is about love, faith, and the power of family. This book is a journey, by turns sad and beautiful, horrifying and joyous, but at all times wonderful.
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  • Ruth Turner
    January 1, 1970
    I loved it, from beginning to end.Although this story deals with the disturbing issues of child abuse and animal abuse, it is still a wonderful read. Fair warning though, you need to have a strong stomach for some sections of this book.
  • Carol
    January 1, 1970
    Great book.
  • Kiki
    January 1, 1970
    This was an ARC sent to me by the publisher.The ARC has a lovely cover with a bird on it, the hardcover is due to be released this coming Tuesday, July 12, 2011.This is a story of the Lake family and their return to Willadee Lake's (nee Moses) family home in Arkansas. Samuel Lake is a Methodist preacher who is moved around in the South from parish to parish with his family, (they have two sons and a daughter, until one year, a parish is not offered to Samuel. They return to Calla and John Moses' This was an ARC sent to me by the publisher.The ARC has a lovely cover with a bird on it, the hardcover is due to be released this coming Tuesday, July 12, 2011.This is a story of the Lake family and their return to Willadee Lake's (nee Moses) family home in Arkansas. Samuel Lake is a Methodist preacher who is moved around in the South from parish to parish with his family, (they have two sons and a daughter, until one year, a parish is not offered to Samuel. They return to Calla and John Moses's home with their children.I really wanted to love this story. The author is the screenwriter for one of the most tear jerking movies of all (my) time, The Man in the Moon(1991), Reese Witherspoon's first movie. This is a similar setting: times are simpler, people are more down to earth, there is no television or internet. The Lake family children are playful and well adjusted, particularly Swan, the only girl. This was pretty much my biggest problem in the novel, but there were a few. While the title of the book leads you to believe this book is going to be about Samuel lake, the first third of the book seems to be about Swan Lake, and her antics and adventures. several new characters are introduced, and while I understand you need minor characters, the author seems to delve into details about these minor characters, and creates tiny little plot diversions that pretty much go nowhere.There are so many different tentacles to the plot, I began to wonder what this novel was really about. Was it about the spiritual failings of a pastor and family man, his daughter and her struggle for identity? Or his brother in law Toy, a disabled WW2 vet with a beautiful yet unfaithful wife, with her eye on Sam? Calla, Willadee's mother who is widowed by her husband's suicide right at the start of the book? Blade, the abused neighbor boy who is nearly murdered by his sadistic father? There were just too many plot lines to feel like I was getting to know these characters, the story jumped about. About 50 pages before the end of the novel, I wondered why I was even reading it any longer. But after about 30 of those pages, the plot takes a final turn that grabbed me and pulled me in and made me cry. It pulled together several of those characters and united those plot lines. This book had some really wonderful things going for it. But the possible Mockingbird small-town feel without the wise characters didn't work. Justice turns a blind eye in this novel (there is murder, rape domestic abuse and child abuse, almost all of which goes without prosecution). Samuel Lake is no Atticus Finch, Swan, not quite a Scout. The conclusion of the novel is almost spectacular, and there were many great ideas there for other themes in the book; redemption, sacrifice, faith and miracles. But somehow, for the first 8/10ths of the book, there was nor real central unifying theme.I like this novel, I just heartily wish it was better. Perhaps a little more editing and paring down of the length of the story as well would have worked. I don't think I'll be recommending this book to friends.
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  • Louise
    January 1, 1970
    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 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.************REVIEW COPY COURTESY OF NETGALLEY, WITH THANKS!*****************
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  • JoAnne Pulcino
    January 1, 1970
    THE HOMECOMING OF SAMUEL LAKEJenny WingfieldThis is a novel that was recommended by a friend on my good reads account, and I’m so glad that she did. This is a marvelous read.This is a beautifully written debut novel. Ms. Wingfield is also a screenwriter and this would make a great film so I’ll keep watching for that!The title character is a very committed young preacher who loses his job and the only option is to move his wife and their three children to her family’s farm in Arkansas. The Moses’ THE HOMECOMING OF SAMUEL LAKEJenny WingfieldThis is a novel that was recommended by a friend on my good reads account, and I’m so glad that she did. This is a marvelous read.This is a beautifully written debut novel. Ms. Wingfield is also a screenwriter and this would make a great film so I’ll keep watching for that!The title character is a very committed young preacher who loses his job and the only option is to move his wife and their three children to her family’s farm in Arkansas. The Moses’ farm is no longer a farm, but has been turned into a general store and an all night bar. The novel begins in June when the Moses family always has their reunion. When tragedy strikes at the reunion, the consequences create crisis and profound change in everything.One of the most memorable characters is, of course, Samuel’s eleven year old daughter, Swan (Swan Lake?) whose delightful spirit and fearlessness makes her a bright shining star. In many reviews she is positively compared to the character of Scout in TO KILL A MOCKINGBIRD. I heartily agree with this comparison and she may be the new standard character for the new generation. Swan becomes a champion and a refuge for a much abused child, and is to be applauded for her bravery.And I have to say my most memorable character was Toy, the brother married to a shrew and madly in love with her. Despite this blind spot, he becomes very loveable, dependable, empathic and extremely heroic. I fell in love with him and rued his sacrifice.This captivating plot is so much more than I have written, but is a glimpse into a wonderful novel that is Southern gothic at its finest! The families dynamics are so well represented you feel a part of them and their emotions, which is one of the reasons it is so hard to put the book down.THE HOMECOMING OF SAMUEL LAKE is a bittersweet inspirational novel capturing the disappointments, the redemption, the good versus evil, the faith and the forgiveness of an enchanting cast of characters and a memorable novel.Highly Recommended
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