Title: The Homecoming of Samuel Lake
Author: Jenny Wingfield
Published: July 2012 – Random House Trade Paperbacks – 352 pages
Synopsis: 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.
My brief take: Oh my goodness! What a wonderful novel! I loved being immersed in the southern setting and I loved the Lake family. Jenny Wingfield’s characters and story completely pulled me in.
My heart was captured by Swan. She had a remarkably mature empathy for the people in her life but expressed it in such an age-appropriate way that it made me smile. My heart went out to her as shocking events unfolded but I was left feeling uplifted and optimistic for what the future would hold for her.
Swan is the main character but the other members of her family (immediate and extended) are interesting and endearing. They could probably each have their own novel – and I would want to read them!
The Homecoming of Samuel Lake will be on my 2012 Favorites list. Highly recommended.
Disclosure: I received this book from the publisher. I was not compensated for my review.