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The Road Home Hardcover – June 1, 2010


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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

In this gentle coming-of-middle-age tale, Ford (Last Summer) follows a gay Boston photographer recuperating at his father's smalltown Vermont home, where he's drawn into an eerie Civil War mystery. Following a car accident that shattered his leg, 40-year-old Burke Crenshaw is less than happy to find himself in his childhood bedroom (still sporting a Raiders of the Lost Ark movie poster) for six weeks, tended to by his father, Ed, and Ed's girlfriend, Lucy. Resentful of his country convalescence and feeling restless, Burke finds relief in a photography project inspired by Lucy's deceased husband's book on Vermont's Civil War militias. Fascinated by the love letter of soldier Amos Hague, Burke launches a quest to uncover the truth about the infantryman and his fiancé, with assistance from a witty smalltown librarian and the 20-year-old son of an old high school crush. Though Ford fails to follow through on a promising supernatural twist, he crafts an involving if low-key slice-of-life narrative about the importance of being true to one's self. (June)
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From Booklist

After sustaining injuries in a car accident, Burke returns to the family farm in Vermont where he is touched by the sight of memorabilia from his horsey, 4-H childhood, and feels the press of time. What he thinks is a photograph of Marshall, his high-school friend and first same-sex encounter, is actually of Marshall's 20-year-old son. Burke's father, whose traditional values contradict his sinful life with his widowed girlfriend, Lucy, still feels resentment that Burke “threw away a teaching career for the life of an artist,” left Vermont, and became a Boston photographer. Reticence defines this father-son relationship since “discussing their personal lives was not something the Crenshaw men did. Particularly when one of them was having relationships with other men.” Still, the old guy digs out his own father's camera equipment for Burke, who is inspired by the rare Hasselblad 1600f to rise from his sick bed, and crutch-hop downstairs on his way to new beginnings in this midlife coming-of-age novel that is both piercingly accurate and sweetly hopeful. --Whitney Scott
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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 352 pages
  • Publisher: Kensington (June 1, 2010)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0758218532
  • ISBN-13: 978-0758218537
  • Product Dimensions: 6.2 x 1 x 9.3 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 15.2 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 3.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (26 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,125,675 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Michael Thomas Ford is the author of more than fifty books in genres ranging from humor to horror, literary fiction to nonfiction. His work for adult readers includes the best-selling novels What We Remember, Changing Tides, Full Circle, Looking for It and Last Summer, and his five essay collections in the "Trials of My Queer Life" series. As a writer for young adults he is the author of Suicide Notes and Z (forthcoming in 2010), and under the name Isobel Bird he wrote the popular "Circle of Three" series. In 2009 he signed a 3-book deal with Random House for a series featuring Jane Austen as a modern-day vampire. The first book in the series, Jane Bites Back, will be published in January, 2010. His work has been nominated for 11 Lambda Literary Awards, twice winning for Best Humor Book and twice for Best Romance Novel. He was also nominated for a Horror Writers Association Bram Stoker Award (for his novel The Dollhouse That Time Forgot) and a Gaylactic Spectrum Award (for his short story "Night of the Werepuss").

Customer Reviews

I have read every novel Michael Thomas Ford has written.
mdeaver702
This ridiculous book is filled with unbelievable scenes and dialogue that stretch any credibility.
Ralph Smith
I found the characters vivid and the story solid and personal.
T. Scruggs

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

16 of 16 people found the following review helpful By S. P. Thompson on June 24, 2010
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
I greatly enjoyed this new novel by Ford. It is good to have a novel with a gay main character where there is decent plot and character development, without the story being another coming out saga. This book is for those of us that have a few years under our belts and is not a part of the new "Romance" genre that seems to be dominate with gay novels these days. Also sex is not the driving force of this novel but father/son relationship. I would recommend this book along with most of Ford's novels.
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9 of 10 people found the following review helpful By Bob Lind on May 26, 2010
Format: Hardcover
The term "coming-of-age novel" is usually used to describe a story in which a youthful character develops morally, emotionally and/or intellectually, in making the transition to maturity. Some of us "late bloomers" may not actually take that step until later in life, as is the case with Michael Thomas Ford's 40 years old protagonist in "The Road Home."

Professional photographer Burke Crenshaw is living the gay single life in Boston, until a broken leg and arm in an auto accident force him to convalesce at his boyhood home, a sheep farm in rural Vermont. Having been estranged from his father for many years, and having that silence magnified by the subsequent death of his mother, Burke feels like a stranger with his uncommunicative father, although his new girlfriend, Lucy, does her best to make him feel welcome. A bittersweet memory from his teen years surfaces, when Burke sees his first crush, Mars Janks. Mars's 20 year old son Will, who works with his dad in his veterinary practice, is also the spitting image of his dad at that age, and life gets suddenly more complicated for Burke when Will makes a pass at him. Burke also gets involved in researching what may have been a local gay couple who fought in the Civil War, and meets an interesting local librarian whose varied interests include attending gay pagan festivals. Ultimately, Burke must face the reality of his relationship with his father, and how it has affected his ability to maintain other relationships and choices made in his life.

Ford is a master at creating relatable, full-nuanced and emotionally- realistic characters and this is no exception to his track record. The story guides the reader to examine his own relationships and choices in life, and reassess priorities in life. Enthusiastically recommended read, which I give five bright stars in a clear Vermont night sky!

- Bob Lind, Echo Magazine
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11 of 13 people found the following review helpful By Frank Berkeley on June 23, 2010
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
The at-times great writing by Michael Thomas Ford in this new novel is somewhat negated by some credibility issues. Apparently, nearly everyone in Vermont is gay: the doctor, the librarian, the gallery owner (OK, maybe this one is plausible), the girlfriend of the main character's father (who has had lesbian fantasies), the vet (who had a gay experience earlier in life), the vet's son (20 year-old Will), and the main character himself, Burke. Plus assorted others. But, hey, gay fiction is Ford's genre so we get beyond this. Will comes on to Burke despite the fact that Burke is twice his age and in not one but two casts. This attraction is not explained nor is why Will thought Burke would be receptive. (Gaydar? Not mentioned.) Then there are the Civil War characters Burke discovers in some old photographs. Guess what? A number of them turn out to be gay! Then there are the ghosts which, absent any resolution prior to the end of the story, we are left to believe are that: ghosts spooking rural New England. The whole description of Destiny, a gay version of the Bohemian Grove or Burning Man festival, is over-the-top. The place evidently really exists but not in the way reported here. I get the impression that Mr. Ford had a concept for a story about a man going home to be with his estranged father. He then seems to have run out of steam and had to layer in the Civil War angle to bulk it up to something more than a novella. This was still not enough so he added the Destiny chapter to barely make it to 250 pages. Still, there are redeeming, enjoyable features. The love scenes between Will and Burke are hot! Some of the dialogue is funny and some of the character descriptions are colorful. Lay back and read this with a soupcon of skepticism.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By C. Stehman on September 3, 2010
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
I was struck by the realism of Burke's struggle with his sexuality. Even though he had lived a gay life for many years, he still had not come to terms with himself when he went back home. His involvement with the young man and finally with the librarian and finding himself is a universal struggle we all have. The confrontation with his father struck home for me. I really enjoyed this book.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By D. Homsher on May 28, 2011
Format: Paperback
I have read most of Ford's previous novels and have enjoyed his well- developed, likeable characters. Although his main players here are the kind of people you wouldn't mind spending time with, I feel the novel is sidetracked by the underdevelopment of those characters and by subplots that seem to go nowhere. The Civil War multi-generational "mystery-ghost story" is complex, hard to follow, and, for me, just plain boring. Way too much type is devoted to this when, in my opinion, an in-depth exploration of interactions among the characters would be more interesting. Why not build and explore tensions among Will(closeted 20 year old who pursues Burke), Burke (city slicker photographer, age 40) and Sam (the local librarian who seems to have his act together)? We are teased into investing time in the Will/Burke relationship and all of a sudden Will is history. Both Will and Sam don't seem fully realized. Had Ford trusted his characters more and given us less "plot," I feel the novel would have been much better.
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