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A Land More Kind Than Home: A Novel Hardcover – April 17, 2012

4.2 out of 5 stars 848 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

Amazon.com Review

Author One-on-One: Wiley Cash and Adriana Trigiani

Adriana TrigianiWiley Cash

Bestselling author Adriana Trigiani's most recent books include the novels The Shoemaker's Wife and Brava, Valentine She lives with her husband and daughter in Greenwich Village.

Adriana Trigiani: First and foremost I’d like to congratulate you on the success of your debut novel, A Land More Kind Than Home. As a writer, I know that inspiration can come from many different places— a quote, a childhood experience, the sky is the limit. What inspired you to write this novel?

Wiley Cash: Thanks, Adriana. I’d like to congratulate you on the success of The Shoemaker’s Wife. The inspiration for this novel kind of found me. In the fall of 2003 I left North Carolina and moved to Lafayette, Louisiana, to attend graduate school. One night, in a class on African-American literature, my professor brought in a news story about a young African-American boy with autism who was smothered in a healing service on the south side of Chicago. I found the story incredibly tragic, but I was also interested in a community of believers that would literally believe something to death. I felt compelled to tell this boy’s story and the story of the community surrounding him.

AT:Truth be told, I’m a big fan of the ’80s—big hair, some of the best music of all time—what’s not to like! Why did you choose to set your novel during this era? Do you see this particular time period as having an important resonance for contemporary America?

WC: The easiest answer is that Jess Hall, one of my three narrators, is nine years old in 1986. I was nine in 1986, and it was easy for me to remember how I viewed the world as a nine year old. But I soon realized that the ’80s were a very complicated decade, and I have clear memories of trying to make sense of a lot of the things that I was seeing and hearing at church, at school, and at home.

When I sat down to write A Land More Kind Than Home I recalled how things seemed in the church and in the community when I was a kid, and I balanced that seeming against the reality of being. This conflict between seeming and being—not just in churches but in families as well—is what drives much of the novel.

AT: One of the things I love most about this novel is that it’s told from very different perspectives—from a young boy to a woman in her eighties to a middle-aged sheriff. As readers can see from your author photo you don’t fit any of these criteria. Did you find it difficult to write from such different viewpoints?

WC: At first it was difficult to imagine the role each of these narrators would play in the novel. As I grew to know these characters better, I realized that each possessed a particular knowledge about the tragedy involving the young boy, and I understood that each of them viewed it from a very different perspective. This story belongs to the community, and I had to let the community tell it.

AT: I’m a huge fan of book clubs. In my mind, there’s nothing better than getting together to discuss your favorite book over a glass of wine. Are there any particular themes that book clubs might enjoy exploring in your book?

WC: I think book clubs are wonderful too, and there are a lot of issues in A Land More Kind Than Home for book clubs to discuss: the power of faith, community responsibility, family secrets, marriage and infidelity. A lot of book clubs have wanted to talk about the role of the boys’ mother in the novel: Was she a good mother who believed her son could be healed, or was she a bad mother who invited tragedy upon her family?

Review

“Mesmerizing . . . only Jess knows why his autistic older brother died on the very day he was taken into the church, and it’s his voice that we carry away from this intensely felt and beautifully told story.” (New York Times Book Review)

“Cash adeptly captures the rhythms of Appalachian speech, narrating his atmospheric novel in the voices of three characters . . . The story has elements of a thriller, but Cash is ultimately interested in how unscrupulous individuals can bend decent people to their own dark ends.” (Washington Post)

“Absorbing . . . Cash uses well-placed flashbacks to flesh out his characters . . . and to illuminate a familiar truth of Southern lit: Many are the ways that fathers fail their sons.” (Entertainment Weekly)

“As lyrical, beautiful, and uncomplicated as the classic ballads of Appalachia, Cash’s first novel is a tragic story of misplaced faith and love gone wrong . . . In a style reminiscent of Tom Franklin and John Hart, Cash captures the reader’s imagination.” (Library Journal (starred review))

“This book will knock your socks off. It’s so good to read a first novel that sings with talent. Wiley Cash has a beautifully written hit on his hands.” (Clyde Edgerton, author of The Night Train)

“A riveting story! The writing is bold, daring, graceful, and engrossing.” (Bobbie Ann Mason, author of In Country)

“I try to state the truth and dislike flinging superlatives about with mad abandon, but I have been so deeply impressed by this novel that only superlatives can convey the tenor of my thought: this is one of the most powerful novels I have ever read.” (Fred Chappell, author of Brighten the Corner Where You Are)

“This novel has great cumulative power. Before I knew it I was grabbed by the ankle and pulled down into a full-blown Greek tragedy.” (Gail Godwin, author of Evensong)

“The first thing that struck me about Wiley’s novel is the beautiful prose: the narrative is strong, clean, direct and economical. . . . I think this could be the beginning of a long, fruitful career.” (Ernest J. Gaines, author of A Lesson Before Dying)

“Cash’s debut novel explores Faulkner-O’Connor country . . . As lean and spare as a mountain ballad, Cash’s novel resonates perfectly, so much so that it could easily have been expanded to epic proportions. An evocative work about love, fate and redemption.” (Kirkus Reviews)

A Land More Kind Than Home is a powerfully moving debut that reads as if Cormac McCarthy decided to rewrite Harper Lee’s To Kill a Mockingbird.” (Richmond Times-Dispatch)

“A lyrical, poignant debut . . . In the mode of John Hart, Tom Franklin, and early Pat Conroy, A Land More Kind Than Home explores the power of forgiveness [and] the strength of family bonds.” (Florida Sun-Sentinel)

“Wiley Cash’s novel embeds a tender coming-of-age story within a suspense-filled thriller. . . . [A] clear-sighted, graceful debut.” (Atlanta Journal-Constitution)

“So beautifully written that you’ll be torn about how fast to read it. This is great, gothic Southern fiction.” (NPR)
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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 320 pages
  • Publisher: William Morrow; 1st edition (April 17, 2012)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0062088149
  • ISBN-13: 978-0062088147
  • Product Dimensions: 6 x 1 x 9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (848 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #353,913 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

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By Rick Mitchell VINE VOICE on March 5, 2012
Format: Hardcover Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
This is a southern saga of a small North Carolina town where a minister has brought healing to a church. The church's windows have been covered in newspaper, which immediately foreshadows dark secrets within. With the healing minister comes evil and A LAND MORE KIND THAN HOME is the account of how that evil effects one family in particular.

The narrative is told in four voices: A ten year old boy (Jess), his father, the sheriff and an old wise woman who was the first to recognize the evil. The centerpiece of the novel is a twelve year old mute boy, Jess's older brother, nick-named "Stump". Despite the efforts of Jess and the old lady to protect Stump and the love of his father and mother, things go awry for the boy and all the characters have to deal with it.

All of the characters are compelling. The boys' grandfather joins the cast about half-way into the story and brings the sheriff and the plot full circle. Must the past repeat itself? Is there redemption? The novel could be a book club gold mine.

This is a very well-written compelling book filled with raw emotions that only familial love and fanatic religion can bring. The characters, especially the narrators are very memorable. Just a warning: there are not a lot of smiles.
Highly recommended. This may be the kind of book that sticks so well that upon reflection, I'd give it five stars.
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Format: Hardcover Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
I finished this wonderful novel last night & it is still on my mind. I can't stop thinking about it. It will be on my mind for a long time. This is a very powerful novel and one filled with love, forgiveness, sadness, tragedy,(more than just one) & pure unadulterated evil. Evil in the form of a charismatic pastor. A man who cared for nothing but his own pleasures & used the ignorance of his flock to get what he wanted. The novel is told in 3 voices; sweet innocent Jess, who wanted to protect his mute brother, Stump; Adelaide, the town midwife who knew the evil that controlled the church & tried to protect the children from it, & Clem, the town sheriff that had his own sad burdens to bear but who I felt was a hero. The one voice I wanted to hear was that of Julie, Jess & Stumps mother. Being a mother of 3, I wanted to try to understand her & how she could allow things to happen the way that they did. I can't imagine the control that the evil pastor, Chambliss, had over her and his entire congregation, except Adelaide of course. She knew his evilness & experienced it first hand. This was not an easy story to read. Chambliss made the hair stand up on the back of my neck. Jess's little friend, Joe Bill, had to constantly worry about being tortured by his truly sadistic brother Scooter and Scooter's idiot friend Clay. I wanted to protect Jess & Stump & their friend Joe Bill & I wanted the evil pastor to get his just reward, but things don't always turn out like we want them to. I find it hard to believe that is a debut novel. It is most definitely a 5 star novel & I am so glad that I chose it to read from the Amazon Vine Program.
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Often, Evil is found in the places you least expect it. Perhaps it is even harder to forgive and move forward when the evil that is done to you comes from such an unexpected source. I can say that I finished this book several days ago, but have been haunted by it ever since. I just can't seem to get it out of my mind. And I consider that to be a real compliment to the author. Love, evil, forgiveness, tragedy and great sadness, all in one. This heartbreaking and memorable story is told through three different people involved in different ways. First and foremost, Jess, so sweet and innocent, wanting only to protect his dear brother, Stump, who is mute. Another important voice is that of Clem, the town Sheriff with sad and unspeakable burdens of his own to bear, and Adelaide, the Midwife in the town. She knew some of what was going on, and tried her best to protect the town's children from the evil that hid behind righteous disguise. The pastor, Chambliss, is one of the most despicable characters I have ever read about.

The author, Wiley Cash, has written a debut novel unlike anything I have ever read, and I hope that this unbelievably powerful novel gets the attention from the reading public that it deserves. I for one will be talking about it to everyone I know.
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Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
I enjoyed this book for the writer's style if nothing else. Cash has a real ability to create rich imagery. The story has some great lines and elements, but gets pretty heavy handed. Example: two characters, each responsible for the death of the other's son. I felt like it ended abruptly, with a quick, philosophical sewing-up at the end. Some of the characters were really interesting people, worthy of a story all their own. I hope we see more of this author. I might be particularly partial as I discovered that he is a local, but I enjoyed his writing.
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Wiley Cash is new author who is from my native state of North Carolina. He is going to be a very successful author because of his talent. This first book has already made the New York Times best selling list; it debuted at 33. I predict it will make the top ten.

When it was available on Wiley's website, I immediately read the first chapter and an excerpt from the 5th chapter. I was hooked. I couldn't wait to read the entire book. I preordered from Amazon, thinking that they would ship it in time for me to have it on April 17. However, they did not ship until the release date, so I downloaded the Kindle version and began reading.

I was not disappointed. Wiley is a talented author! His characters are so well defined that we quickly care about them and feel like we are watching what they are doing. Set in the hills of North Carolina, you understand the feel of places immediately.

The plot is well planned with enough twists and turns to keep you interested in what is happening to the characters. The characters include two brothers, one a mute; an elderly spinster who knows just about everything about everybody in the small town; the sheriff of the town; and an evil, snake handling, pastor who manipulates his flock very well.

The dialogue in this book is mesmerizing! It is so well written, you can actually visualize the action of the characters. I am not a writer; but I am an avid reader. I read mostly Southern authors. Wiley Cash reminds me somewhat of Clyde Edgerton; but so much more of John Hart. Wiley grew up in Gastonia, NC and does what great writers do best; write about what they know.

I highly recommend A Land Kinder Than Home... which was taken from the last paragraph of Thomas Wolfe's You Can't Go Home Again. I'm looking forward to Wiley Cash's second, which is already in the works.
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