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The Homecoming of Samuel Lake

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4.1 of 5 stars 4.10  ·  rating details  ·  3,959 ratings  ·  894 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 (first published January 1st 2011)
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Community Reviews

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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...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...more
Cher
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...more
Dem
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...more
Laura
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.
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...more
Sheree
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...more
Tony
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...more
☮Karen
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
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.

Louise
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...more
Gayle
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...more
Laura
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
Jeanette
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...more
Corinne
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...more
Laura (booksnob)
Samuel is a preacher who believes he has a purpose in the world, he just isn't sure what it is yet. Swan, his precocious eleven year old daughter believes in miracles and plans to get one sent her way. The Lake family just moved in with the Moses family after
something terrible happened at the Moses family reunion and the tragedy sends the family spiraling toward unforeseen changes and difficulties, making it a summer to remember.

The devil lives next door and goes by the name of Ras Ballenger. Hi...more
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
Nancy
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...more
Kiki
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Staci
Aug 12, 2011 Staci rated it 5 of 5 stars
Recommended to Staci by: TLC Book Tour
First thoughts when I read the last sentence: "Oh no....I can't believe this is over. I love these people."

Writing that brought me to tears:
"I was picking them (flowers) for that man," he said softly, nodding toward the house. "That uncle."
Calla tipped back her head and sucked air in through her nose, the way a person does when a feeling gets to be too much to handle. When was the last time anyone did anything special for Toy? That's the thought that took her breath away. When was the last tim...more
Sherri Huntley
This a a moving story of the Lake family, outlining the obstacles and challenges they face and how the family pulls together to overcome those challenges. The charecters just draw you in to the story, each and every one of them is made real by the author. The story begins with the suicide death of the patriarch of the family in the midst of the annual family reunion. The daughter and her family end up moving back to the family home and, while there, the children and the parents find out just how...more
Rosanne
Unfortunately, I seem to be one of a very few who didn't care for The Homecoming of Samuel Lake. I found it to be laborious and it didn't keep me interested.

Samuel Lake is a Methodist minister who is married to Willadee Moses. They have 3 children; the oldest named Swan Lake. As they gather for their family reunion on the Moses farm tragedy occurs. Samuel, who has not been assigned a congregation of his own, ministers to his own.

The characters are many and while some are more compelling than o...more
Janice
This book was so awesome! I felt every emotion possible while reading the book. The characters were so real-to-life and I loved each one, but especially little Swan. I would recommend this book to everyone! It was an easy to read book and one that I could not put down. It is definitely the best book I have read all year long and I read one book after another! I am never without a book to read. I will definitely get more books from Jenny Wingfield. AWESOME job Jenny! I forgot to say that I WON th...more
✿Sandra
Once I got past a certain place in this book, it was very hard to put it down. I went through so many different emotions while reading it. I was introduced to a lot of great characters and one very dispicable man. This book went in several different directions (marriage, childhood, infidelity, child abuse, spousal abuse, family, murder), but I never felt lost and everything tied together in the end to make a great story. I hope this author is currently working on another novel!
JoAnne Pulcino
THE HOMECOMING OF SAMUEL LAKE

Jenny Wingfield

This is a novel that was recommended by a friend on my good reads account, and I’m so glad that she did. This is a marvelous read.

This is a beautifully written debut novel. Ms. Wingfield is also a screenwriter and this would make a great film so I’ll keep watching for that!

The title character is a very committed young preacher who loses his job and the only option is to move his wife and their three children to her family’s farm in Arkansas. The Moses’...more
Maribeth
This is really a 4.5 or a 4.75 - excellent book. The author's dialog skills were really good. There were laugh out loud moments and some definite tear jerker moments. I got mad and outraged, sad and happy, all in one book.
Cheri
The Moses clan gathers annually on the old hundred acre family homestead, home now to Calla and John Moses. Annually, Samuel Lake and his wife, Willadee Moses, head from Louisiana to the family reunion in Arkansas with their three children in tow. Samuel Lake is a good and loving husband to Willadee, a loving father to his children Noble, Swan and Bienville, a passionate preacher to his congregation.

Samuel and Willadee’s daughter, eleven year old Swan (yes, Swan Lake) is a spirited little girl,...more
Charlie
It seems I’ve skidded through a patch of great books lately. I just finished the advanced reader copy of The Homecoming of Samuel Lake and it gets an enthusiastic 5 stars. This is a true work of literature richly grounded in the art of creative writing. You won’t find any trendy topics or flashy ready-made marketing plots here. This is good old-fashioned southern storytelling at its absolute finest. Author Jenny Wingfield has imagined a set of literary characters that includes a remarkably memor...more
Carly Svamvour
January 2nd, 2k13

Thoughts in mid-stream ...

There are two things I'd like to see:

1) A movie adaptation of this book;

2) An actual sequel! I think it would be interesting to re-visit
Samuel Lake and his family. I'm wondering if Jenny Wingfield
will actually consider that.

If an author can make you hate somebody so much you want to go out and personally strangle the character, then that author has done her job.

If she can make you love somebody so much that you want to sit down and talk to the character...more
Susan
John Moses couldn't have planned 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.

These first lines grabbed me, but I wasn't sure I would be able to read this book. After I requested a galley, I read a review that said there was a lot of animal abuse in the story, and I have a really hard time reading about that, even in fiction. There was, and I loved this book anyway. There was also child abuse, domestic violence, and general...more
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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.

Wingfie...more
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.” 5 likes
“September showed up right on schedule, and lasted a whole month.” 5 likes
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