“Every first Sunday in June, members of the colorful Moses clan gather for their annual reunion at “the old home place,” a sprawling hundred-acre farm in Arkansas. Samuel Lake, a handsome young preacher with a huge heart and strong convictions, has brought his wife, Willadee Moses, and their three young children to the festivities. For the children it’s a time to vacation away from the prying eyes of their father’s congregation, and for Willadee it’s a chance to be with her beloved mother and father. But tragedy strikes, jolting the family to their core and setting the stage for a summer of crisis and profound change.
Samuel soon learns that he has lost his parish back in Louisiana, so he and his family take up temporary residence on the farm. Everyone is drawn to Samuel’s eleven-year-old daughter, Swan, with her outspoken questions and mischievous spirit. Swan, in turn, is fascinated by her powerful, secretive Uncle Toy, a war veteran, and his sultry wife, Bernice, an old girlfriend of Samuel’s whose desire to win back her old beau is a bit too obvious. But when Blade Ballenger, an eight-year-old neighbor, comes into Swan’s life, she focuses all her fierce energy on keeping him safe from his terrifying father, never realizing the possible dangers to herself and to those she loves.”
Two words…Southern Gothic. They had me at those two simple words in the book description. There was no way I was turning down two of my favorite genres. As a Southerner I love Southern Literature, it will always hold a place in my heart when written truthfully and from the heart. Secondly I love gothic literature as well for it’s beautifully blended combination of horror and romance. Combine the two and I am in reader’s heaven. And I must say that Jenny Wingfield does a masterful job of combining the darkness of human nature within the idyllic setting of the South although I am not sure “gothic” would be the term I would use.
This book is honest, heart-rending and downright tragic at times but above all it’s real. From the setting to the characters, reality abounds. It’s almost as if you could step into any small town and find a family like the Moses or unfortunately even a snake like Ras Ballenger. Wingfield knows her South, she knows the people, the places and the day to day life and it shows in her masterful writing. From the slow way of life to how she makes biscuits…the South shines through in her work.
One of the most interesting aspects of the book are the characters who are so genuine, you’d swear you knew them in real life. Swan Lake especially sticks out and reminds one very much of Scout from To Kill A Mockingbird. From the first few pages with her I felt the resemblance immediately. I have since seen other reviews that felt this similarity. She’s a true, honest and yet fiesty character and although the book is not told solely by her she still has that quality about her that leads most of the storyline and draws readers to her automatically. The supporting cast of characters is also strong making each one a treasure to discover.
In the end The Homecoming of Samuel Lake is truly exquisite example of a master storyteller in her element. Jenny Wingfield was also the screenwriter of the movie The Man in the Moon which I adore so I had some high expectations. I have to say she exceeded them all with a debut novel that is truly a joy to read.
Please make sure to check out all the other stops on the TLC Book Blog Tour.
One lucky reader of Stiletto Storytime will win their very own copy of The Homecoming of Samuel Lake. Giveaway ends midnight EST August 24, 2011. US/Canada addresses only please. The winner will be chosen by random.org and notified by e-mail address. Good Luck to all and Happy Reading!
To enter simply comment below on a Southern writer you might recommend and why you enjoy their work.
Want extra entries? You can get an extra entry by doing any of the following:
Be/Become a Follower of Stiletto Storytime
Be/Become a Follower Stiletto Storytime on Twitter (Leave Name)
Be/Become a Follower of Author Jenny Wingfield on Twitter (Leave Name)