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The Homecoming of Samuel Lake

4.09 of 5 stars 4.09  ·  rating details  ·  5,751 ratings  ·  1,145 reviews
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 p ...more
Hardcover, 352 pages
Published July 12th 2011 by Random House
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Florence (Lefty) MacIntosh
Jul 01, 2014 Florence (Lefty) MacIntosh rated it 5 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: Fans of Scout in To Kill a Mockingbird, debut novels & Southern Lit in general
Recommended to Florence (Lefty) by: Dem
There’s a lot of well deserved buzz about this debut novel. Circa 1950's Southern lit with terrific characters, clever dialog and a story that hooks from page one. If you’re into realistic fiction and looking for some great escapism you’ve found it. In a nutshell it’s the story of Samuel Lake, a flockless Methodist minister forced to return to his roots, the home of his wife’s family on a backwoods farm in Arkansas, a tight knit clan with a whole heap of problems of their own.
The author strikes
Angela M

From the title you might assume this is just about Samuel Lake , the minister who loses his congregations and moves from church to church but the precocious, kind hearted , eleven year old Swan Lake and the little boy named Blade that she tries desperately to protect were for me the center of the story.

From the title you might assume that it's just about Samuel Lake but it is about so much more - good and evil , darkness and joy , love and infidelity , caring and abuse , horrific deeds , and th
This was a gem of a book. Truly "a diamond in a turnip patch." This is a story of innocence ending when bad things happen to good people. A story of redemption, hope and faith. Of miracles happening when one least expects it, especially for Sam Lake, a preacher who is without a pulpit and his faith beginning to wane; and his daughter, Swan Lake, who captures the innocence and purity that only a child can have. Grab a tissue as this story will make you chuckle, cry and make your heart swell. 4.5 ...more
Melissa Crytzer Fry
This novel will have you thinking about faith and miracles in a whole different light. Debut novelist Jenny Wingfield conjures a cast of characters fresh and imaginative – all set against the lush backdrop of a rural Arkansas farming landscape in the ‘50s.

“I think maybe miracles are something everybody has to find out about for themselves.” This astute knowledge comes from one of the key characters, a likable, resilient pre-teen Swan, and gets to the heart of this story that focuses on the famil
4.5 stars - Incredible. I really loved it.

I blew through this one in 2 days and loved it from the first paragraph. It's southern lit set in Arkansas in the 1950's, which does not have a romance-centric plot and does not focus on the overdone racial tropes. Can we please, please get more of these??

The author delicately balances the power of hope against a realistic portrayal of the cruelty in our world. Her characters are memorable and there are some great humorous moments. There are several cha
Jenny Wingfield's first novel The Homecoming of Samuel Lake is a real gem !

Set in rural south Arkansas in the 1950s this story is about the Moses family and when good and evil cross paths and its consequences, but above all else it is about the love courage and struggle of a family and rural live.

I loved the title of this Novel and was intrigued to see where this story was going and Jenny Winfield’s story really flows from the opening line . “ John Moses couldn’t have chosen a worse day, or a w
Bette Crosby
Awesome book...loved the story, the pacing, the language. Were it possible, this would be a six star fro me.
Crystal Craig
The Homecoming of Samuel Lake is just one of those books you must read. My attention grabbed as soon as I read the first sentence.

"John Moses couldn’t have chosen a worse day, or a worse way to die, if he’d planned it for a lifetime."

The story takes place in the backwoods of Arkansas. The characters, especially the children are fun. As I read, I found myself laughing out loud several times.

"Here I've been, dogging your tracks like you were some kind of hero, when all you really are is an old, o
Diane Barnes
First, let me thank Cher for writing such a good review that I went straight to my library and checked this one out. I hadn't come across it before and it wasn't on my book radar at all. I opened it up to page 1 and fell in.
In 1956, Samuel Lake takes his wife, Willadee, and his 3 kids to her family reunion at the old home place in Arkansas. The Moses family is big, rambunctious, noisy and loving, with a lot of history, resentment, jealousies and tragedy and joy among them, just like most familie
This book started out as a 5-star read. Then the villains became overly villainous and one-dimensional, the writing was just ok, and when it wasn't predictable it stretched believability beyond belief. There are a couple of characters who are interesting, but not worth reading the book for. My advice? Don't waste your time. Oh, and if you have issues with domestic violence, child abuse and animal abuse, then you have three more reasons to skip this one.
Gushing, just gushing with love for this book. Ugh I could cry again just writing about it.
It is extremely rare that a book touches me like this one just did. It is also rare for me to give anything 5 stars but when a book evokes so much emotion that you cannot control yourself when reading in public, that is a sure sign of something phenomenal.
I loved this family: sassy Swan, and teddy bear Toy, Willadee and Sam, Blade, Calla all of them! Well, except Bernice of course.
Love, love, love.
Jul 12, 2012 Sheree rated it 5 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Everyone who reads!!
Recommended to Sheree by: Staci
I'm not ready to leave, it can't be over ... this is hands down, without a doubt, my favourite read this year and I can't thank my friend Staci enough for recommending it. You know when you come across a treasure that is too good not to share, a book that you want everyone to read and love just as much as you do. This is that book. To borrow words from The Homecoming of Samuel Lake ... it's "enough to make your heart fill up and burst"

Jenny Wingfield's writing is pure bliss ... it's all warmth a
I love this book and this author. I have discovered that she wrote the screenplay for The Man in the Moon, one of my favorite coming of age movies; so no wonder I loved this! Another reason could be that it reminded me a lot of To Kill a Mockingbird and the Joe R. Lansdale books I have enjoyed. Similar setting in the rural South, similar characters -- a couple of precoscious children with gumption to spare, adults spewing wisdom, and an evil neighbor who is 50 kinds of despicable. I will never c ...more
The homecoming is that of Samuel Lake, an out of work Methodist minister, who finding himself without a flock, during the depression era, returns to his Alabama backwoods roots and his wife and children at the old Moses farm, where three generations of the family clan gather. While Grandma Calla runs a general store by day in the front of the house, Uncle Toy runs an all night bar at the back, and Samuel himself holds a nightly tent revival in a neighboring field, the three Lake children, most n ...more
Wingfield, Jenny. THE HOMECOMING OF SAMUEL LAKE. (2011). ***.
This first novel from this author who has several successful screenplays under her belt is likely destined to be a best seller. The reviews have all been glowing – to the point where the reader feels constrained to love the book, too. I thought it was capably written, but on the level of a YA novel told like Bible stories for children. It is the story of the Lake family from southern Arkansas. It starts out with the celebration of the
Congrats Jenny Wingfield on a very good debut novel! I mentally set myself up before I finished the first chapter. I was thinking this was going to be like a cream puff - flaky on the outside and creamy on the inside with not a lot of flavor. Boy, was I wrong.

The Moses and Lake families are hit with one tragedy right after the next in 1956 Arkansas and Mrs. Wingfield has created some realistic characters that you can believe in. I felt like I could walk in the Moses house, pour myself a glass o
As I started reading this book I thought it was going to be one thing and then, boom, it was another thing entirely. I love a book which can take me by surprise like that. Based on the first couple of chapters I was expecting an enjoyable but somewhat light-hearted quirky-characters-in-a-large-southern-family type of story. What I was not expecting were the dark themes which would later emerge: suicide, abuse, murder, incarnate evil. What is truly masterful is the way Jenny Wingfield manages to ...more
Sonja Arlow
3 stars

I have yet to read Southern Fiction I don’t like and this book was no exception.

Set in the 1950’s Arkansas this story has a little of everything - romance, murder, compassion, cruelty and the value of family. The characters are all lively and especially the children were a delight. We have righteous Samuel, strong-willed Willadee, scheming Bernice, lively Swan, reserved Toy and of course young Blade who will crawl into anyone’s heart.

The story has a few sub plots but for me it really re
Raw and powerful, Southern-Gothic, faith-based fiction well-written; woven with touches of humor and childlike mischievousness and a whole heap of delightful storytelling.

“I think maybe miracles are something everybody has to find out about for themselves. Telling them about it don’t make them believe, it just makes them think you’re crazy as a Bessie bug.”

Faith – Hope – Fear - Honesty - Betrayal – Courage – Sin – Redemption – Darkness and Light - “The Homecoming of Samuel Lake” is all of these
Missy Reid
I was feeling generous this evening and settled on three stars rather than two. I won't say I hated it, but if I voiced all the my negative thoughts about this novel, it would appear that hate isn't too strong a word. For starters, I think this story is doomed from the get-go because the main character is so easily compared to Scout Finch. That's a losing battle right there that doesn't require an explanation. Very quickly, here are other things that bother me about this novel: the contrived sou ...more
I absolutely loved this book and couldn’t put it down. For a debut novel, Jenny Wingfield has penned a winner!

The story opens in Columbia County, Arkansas, in 1956. The entire extended Moses clan have gathered for their annual reunion. John and Calla Moses have been hosting this reunion for years. The majority of family members live close-by with the exception of John and Calla’s daughter, Willadee, who lives down in Louisianna. She is married to Samuel Lake, a preacher of the Methodist religion
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Torn on this one. On the one hand, it was a 5 star read pretty much the whole way through. I loved this family and all the characters were so full of life. But the ending absolutely crushed me and not necessarily in a good way. It was too much for me. I think I found the tone too jarring and contrasting. Most of the book is full of hope and love, but then there are the horrific violent acts (view spoiler). I mean there was viole ...more
Diane S ❄
4 1/2 The story about a preacher and his family in the 1950's in Arkansas> when Sam Lake is not given a church for the year by the Methodist congregation the Lakes return home to Arkansas. There they encounter violence, but redemption too and the wonderful power of family and love. It is the children that make the book, Swan Lake is 10 and has 2 brothers and a small boy that she needs to save from the violence of his father. Another extremely well written 1st novel.
Ruth Turner

I loved it, from beginning to end.

Although this story deals with the disturbing issues of child abuse and animal abuse, it is still a wonderful read.

Fair warning though, you need to have a strong stomach for some sections of this book.

This is an old-fashioned novel that I SO enjoyed. It's rare to come across a debut novel that doesn't grind some politico preaching hubris, or try to shock with obscenity language contests, or in some way gross you out with any one of the top current 5 dystopian or whining dysfunction witness scenarios. And actually holds an entire cast of characters who hold GOOD INTENT in unselfish diligence for their family on top of it!

Yet there is animal and child abuse and true world reversals both econom
Columbia County, Arkansas, 1956

"John Moses couldn’t have chosen a worse day, or a worse way to die, if he’d planned it for a lifetime. Which was possible. He was contrary as a mule. It was the weekend of the Moses family reunion, and everything was perfect—or at least perfectly normal—until John went and ruined it."
On the first Sunday of every June the Moses family reunion takes place on the family's expansive farmland home site in Ar
4.5 stars

Eleven year old Swan Lake is a preacher's daughter, down in Louisiana. Every summer, she goes with her momma and two brothers to her momma's home place, up in Arkansas, for a Moses family reunion. This particular reunion is remarkable for two reasons, both of which completely change Swan's life.

In a world of biscuits and horses, preachin' and drinkin', there is love and beauty as well as a darkness and evil that won't stay put. Swan's pluck and fierce faith give her courage as she lear
If I could give a book more than five stars, this would be the one.
Over 300 pages of perfection. Normally, in a novel this size, there are many descriptive passages.
I suppose the difference is that this one is written by a screen writer who is used to writing the 'bare bones'.
Every sentence either moves the story along or adds substance to a character. There are no fillers here.

Samuel Lake is a young pastor whose wife Willadee is from the Moses family. When Sam loses his church, his family comes
4.5 Stars

What sets the story apart from other books is the writing style and character development. But then, just as I was enjoying it just because it was making me laugh, Ras kept showing up and leaving a bad taste in my mouth. He's definitely a key player in the book since he is the cause of the biggest conflict but his actions, both past and present, turned my stomach. He is, as the characters summarize him, the spawn of the devil. And, although he gets his just desserts in the end, the endi
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Jenny Wingfield grew up “pretty much all over Louisiana”. The daughter of a Methodist minister, she learned early on that being a preacher’s kid could mean moving a lot.

After high school, she attended Southern State College (now SAU), in Magnolia, Arkansas, earning her B.A. in English. Later on, she taught English and Language Arts in the Hope, Arkansas and Ashdown Arkansas public schools.

More about Jenny Wingfield...

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“I think maybe miracles are something everybody has to find out about for themselves. Telling them about it doesn’t make them believe. It just makes them think you’re crazy as a bessie bug.” 9 likes
“September showed up right on schedule, and lasted a whole month.” 7 likes
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