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The Homecoming of Samuel Lake: A Novel Hardcover – July 12, 2011

4.5 out of 5 stars 404 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews


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

About the Author

Jenny Wingfield lives in Texas with her rescued dogs, cats, and horses. Her screenplay credits include The Man in the Moon and The Outsider. The Homecoming of Samuel Lake is her first novel.

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 352 pages
  • Publisher: Random House; First Edition edition (July 12, 2011)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0385344082
  • ISBN-13: 978-0385344081
  • Product Dimensions: 6.5 x 1.2 x 9.6 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.2 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (404 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,290,034 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By Gerard Webster, award-winning author VINE VOICE on March 28, 2011
Format: Hardcover Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
Reading "The Homecoming of Samuel Lake" was a pleasant surprise for me. I was not familiar with the author, Jenny Wingfield. When I opened the back flap and learned that this was her first novel (after two successful screenplays), I didn't know what to expect. But it took only the very first sentence to hook me...and the rest of the paragraph to set the hook. After that, all she had to do was reel me in.

Samuel Lake is a good man. He's a faithful husband to the former Willadee Moses, a loving father to their three children, and a preacher by choice. But he's a man in conflict when he finds himself without a job, a home for his family, or any prospects for the future. By default, the only temporary home he can find is with the Moses clan on their family farm.

A sudden tragedy ricochets the trajectory of his preaching career like a bullet off a rock. Sam is forced to question everything he is and stands for--as a husband, a father, and a man of God. The process for him is about as painless as a Civil War era amputation--without anesthesia. And you feel his and his family's pain, yearning, hope, and disappointment as though you were living in their skin.

Wingfield's characters are as deep as a well--and as refreshing as a cool drink from it. The plot's twists and eddies carry you along their strong current to its dramatic conclusion. Wingfield knows how to keep the suspense as tight as a fishing line--giving a little play of humor to relieve the tension before hauling back on the line again. And her writing style is original and fresh with Southern homespun phrasing. "The Homecoming of Samuel Lake" was a verbal feast for the senses. This might be Jenny Wingfield's first novel; but I fervently hope it's not her last. Highly recommended!
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
It's hard for me to decide whether I liked this book or not. On the one hand, yes, the characters are well-drawn, and the plot moves along at a fast, straight-forward clip, and the language is evocative. I think the problem is the voice--there's a stark contrast between the warm, cozy feel of much of the story, and the really brutal harshness of some of what happens in the story. If I compare it to The Secret Life of Bees, wherein there's a warmth and gentleness and humor to the story despite some pretty terrible events, this still feels a lot more jarring. It's almost as if you were reading along in To Kill a Mockingbird, and then suddenly there was a lurid description of a lynching, complete with an up-close description of a castration.

I am also a little unsure how to take the theme of the story--it seems to grapple with theodicy, why does God allow evil, especially evil perpetrated against children and even animals. But what is the resolution? is it that despite not having an answer, we should go on trusting in miracles and in love? Probably, and probably the point is that the pastor Dad embodies God's love in a way--but what are we to make of his action at the end? And are we to take Toy's action as Christ, taking the punishment that rightly belongs to us sinners?

I think the story probably does mean that, and that makes the whole thing even more jarring, because it is put into such a golden-hued setting, with a voice that uses devices such as capital letters to give a jocular tone: when The Bad Thing happened, she wanted to be Ready. (not a quote, just an approximation.)

I'm not sorry I read it, but if you have a hard time hearing about animal abuse or child abuse or spouse abuse, please beware.
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Format: Hardcover Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
"The Homecoming of Samuel Lake" is a beautifully-written book. At some points it's as carefree and fun as Huck Finn rafting the Mississippi; at other points as bittersweet and touching as "To Kill a Mockingbird." In fact, I'd almost go so far as to say this might turn out to be a new generation's "Mockingbird." It's that good!

It's the story of what happens when a preacher with a wife and three kids loses his job and they return to the family farm which isn't really a working farm as much as a general store and all-night bar.

With memorable characters and a captivating plot, it's a story about good vs. evil, miracles and disappointment, redemption, faith, and forgiveness.

I finished it this morning and I may just have to start reading it again this afternoon.
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Format: Hardcover Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
I wasn't sure I'd care for this writer or her book. My first choice is always a great mystery. That being said however, I fell into this story like falling in love! The unforgettable Moses family does that sort of thing to you. Each family member is a character that could stand alone beginning with the young heroine, Swan Lake. A name so funky that I thought I wouldn't be able to tolerate her. Wrong!! She's terrific. A wise cracking pint sized big mouth. She carries the story along and provides an intro to the other quirky members of the clan. The plot revolves around her and becomes very exciting as she helps to rescue a little boy from a brutally abusive father, soothes the spirits of a wounded veteran, and eventually gets herself into a situation that becomes heart pounding for the reader. By this time I liked Swan so much that I didn't want to believe what was happening to her. I won't say anymore, you'll have to read it yourself. But I can promise that you won't be disappointed. Without meaning to be overly critical, I DO have to mention that there are a couple of places where the writing might have benefited from some extremely careful editing. Nothing spoils this story though.
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