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The Second Coming

3.96  ·  Rating Details ·  1,730 Ratings  ·  128 Reviews
Will Barrett (also the hero of Percy's The Last Gentleman) is a lonely widower suffering from a depression so severe that he decides he doesn't want to continue living. But then he meets Allison, a mental hospital escapee making a new life for herself in a greenhouse. The Second Coming is by turns touching and zany, tragic and comic, as Will sets out in search of God's exi
Paperback, 360 pages
Published September 13th 1999 by Picador (first published 1980)
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Mar 31, 2016 LeAnne rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Knowing a little bit about the actual life and history of the author made this book extremely interesting. The two primary characters each have a psychiatric condition that makes their interactions with those around them dissatisfying and odd. As yin to yang, though, Will and Allie are somewhat opposite in their most obvious symptoms yet each accepts the other with no judgment. To keep others surprised, Ill refrain from listing these characters' peculiarities and will also spare you a "book repo ...more
Nov 27, 2012 Darwin8u rated it really liked it
Shelves: 2012
There is something almost ineffable that hits me when I read Walker Percy. I think it is the grace of Percy's confrontation and struggle with spiritual belief. His characters are amazing, his prose is lovely. He writes these quirky scenes, in a sometimes peculiar prose without them seeming fussy or overwrought (an amazing balancing act right there).

Perhaps, I am just drawn to my big Trinity of Catholic Novelists(Greene, O'Connor, Percy). They don't play in an easy playground of consecration. Th
Kirk Smith
Apr 03, 2016 Kirk Smith rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This is the story of Will and Allie, two individuals following troubled paths that eventually cross and merge. Each in different ways have experienced more than their share of suffering. Their actions, initially passive, become focused as they pursue contentment in life, enlightenment, and love. In true Walker Percy fashion, their complicated lives are absolute messes. Much of the first part of the book remains dark with unpleasant repressed memories, electroshock therapy, suicidal temptations, ...more
Ned Mozier
Jul 06, 2014 Ned Mozier rated it it was amazing
Read a few years back, one of the more unique novelist devices I've seen, and the usual superb psychological development from Percy. Entertaining and lively as well!
Feb 05, 2010 flannery rated it really liked it
Shelves: favorites
"Shortly afterward, he became even more depressed. People seemed more farcical than ever. More than once he shook his head and, smiling ironically, said to himself: This is not for me."

There's an improbable romance in this featuring my least favorite stock character, ie, the zany girl that changes your life and teaches you to love again, but I like this book so much I'll let it pass.
Jan 12, 2017 Michael rated it really liked it
Belief Isn't Faith

Walker Percy is often referred to as a 'Catholic writer'. Indeed, like G. K. Chesterton, he became a Catholic in adult life, but unlike Chesterton he didn't become a spokesman for the institutional church.

I suspect that the underlying reason for Percy's ecclesiological reticence was his fundamental scepticism about the category of 'belief'. Religious faith for Percy is not a solution to a problem of life. And he recognised that belief is not necessarily divinely sourced; it co
Susan Emmet
Oct 11, 2011 Susan Emmet rated it it was amazing
Was led to The Second Coming by The Moviegoer. I just loved this book. Better than Percy's first.
Again drawn to the mountain setting outside Asheville, NC where my family lived after leaving NY.
Will Barrett is a widower whose wife was rich and did good deeds. He went north as a lawyer and made alot of money, too. With daughter Leslie in tow, he and his wife set up a life in the mountains. Riddled with the knowledge that his father committed suicide and tried to take Will with him, Will tries to
May 03, 2009 Becky rated it really liked it
This is probably a whole lot better book than I give it credit for. IT's the second of a series by Percy but stands alone if you can overlook some undetailed background. The plot and the character development are excellent. The main rather religious/spiritual theme, as well as the themes of love and mental illness are given very worthy treatment. The problem I have is the wordiness. Percy just seemed to go on and on and on for no real reason I could fathom, there was no knew info in those pages ...more
Jul 13, 2008 Kristen rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: anyone.
Recommended to Kristen by: brooke (and josh)
I loved this novel and couldn't put it down. The quirky, and yet oddly believable characters, and their fascinating takes on both the extraordinary and mundane happenings of their own lives. It didn't hurt that the settings were Southern ones, of great familiarity in their own ways. Entertaining and yet deep and thought provoking, I know that more than the Moviegoer, The Second Coming will propel me towards reading the rest of the Percy canon. (9/10)
Robert Warren
Aug 23, 2012 Robert Warren rated it liked it
Prior to stumbling on this book, I'd known Percy mainly as the Southern Literary Lion who discovered John Kennedy Toole, author of A Confederacy of Dunces, which I adore. Percy's lively introduction to Dunces tells the sad story of Toole, who committed suicide and left behind his unpublished masterpiece. Toole's bereaved mother sought out Percy, insisting he read a barely-legible carbon of her son's epic tale. An astonished Percy alerted his publisher and the rest is history. For that alone I ad ...more
Nov 05, 2009 Alan rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: The morose, cynical and introspective - best two out of three?
A morose, cynical, brilliantly-written work of extreme introspection.

From the moment Will Barrett collapses on a Linwood, North Carolina golf course in the first chapter, it's apparent that he is a man in dire need of something that he's not getting, despite the fact that he is an athletic and wealthy widower who moves gracefully through society's higher levels. From the moment we meet Allie Vaught, who has checked herself out of (not to put too fine a point upon it: escaped) a nearby sanitarium
Jan 05, 2014 Steve rated it it was amazing
I first read this book shortly after it was published, but decided to re-read it when it was offered (cheap) on my Kindle. I appreciated it more now that I am the approximate age of the main protagonist. The book asks the ultimate question "is life worth living?" We get Percy's answer through the two main characters, Will Barrett, a semi-retired widower, and Alison, an escaped mental patient (who is also the daughter of one of Will's old flames). How these two find each other and, through their ...more
Jun 26, 2015 Rachel rated it really liked it
I read Percy's The Last Gentleman years ago. I didn't get it then. Maybe I wasn't grown up enough. This sequel made the faint parts I remember make sense. I love how Barrett is seen as a little crazy while all the "sane" ones around him are painted realistically---tempers flaring, emotions high-strung, greedy, perhaps over zealous. It seems he's the only one wanting an answer to the big question about God---and every normal person is incapable of giving it. Insanity is longing and questioning th ...more
Apr 08, 2012 Michael rated it liked it
Not sure what to make of the book. I wondered if the need to believe was at the center of the work. One must be mentally ill to believe therefore one chooses mental illness over sanity. Will Barret was a successful lawyer, lived a full life, retired early. But he is not all there. His seizures attached to his father's suicide and his attempt to overcome what is his birthmark. He accepts the possible illusion of a second coming at the end of the novel. I kept feeling that this was a sort New Age ...more
Nov 01, 2012 Mark rated it really liked it
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Oct 24, 2014 E rated it liked it
I was struggling with being interested in this book and about to give up from ennui, when around 100 pages in, it got better. The book oscillates between a kookiness - with characters falling through roofs and talking to each other like they are in an e.e. cummings poem - and a philosophical weightiness - religion, guilt, death, survivorship, mental illness - that makes you straddle along one side to the other as if you are walking on sea legs on a rolling ocean. But there is also much humor in ...more
Jul 06, 2015 Jasonlylescampbell rated it really liked it
Shelves: favorites
I must say that I love Mr. Percy. This was a fun book to read and dealt with what he always is dealing with ... the problem of life (how life for the contempory man looks more like death). You have Will Barrett a wealthy and successful lawyer who is also very good at golf and retired who starts having falling spells and thinking about his german gun while sitting in his german car (Mercedes). It is a very personal book for Walker Percy since his own father and grandfather committed suicide. He i ...more
Lance Kinzer
Jun 29, 2014 Lance Kinzer rated it it was amazing
Published when Percy was in his mid 60's this book is the work of a survivor. While I typically encourage people to start Percy by reading the Moviegoer, it is in The Second Coming that one sees a much fuller expression of what Percy is on to and up to. The exploration throughout the book of Will's hunting trip with his father in a Georgia swamp is, in my view, the best writing Percy ever did. We have set before us life and death; in a culture that chooses and even loves death (the braver like h ...more
Edoardo Albert
Mar 18, 2014 Edoardo Albert rated it really liked it
A quite remarkable novel. The skill displayed by Walker Percy, in an entirely unobtrusive manner, is extraordinary, as he moves from first person to third person narrative, from relating events to situating them against flashbacks. But this is a literary virtuosity entirely in service to the story, not waving its hands to the reader saying, 'Look at me, aren't I the great writer.' Percy, a believer himself, nevertheless skewers Christian pretensions and hypocrisies expertly, while casting no les ...more
Anne White
Warnings up front: bad language and mature content all over the place, which must have been even more shocking in 1980. About halfway through, I wasn't sure if I was going to make it to the end. But if you can hang on, the last part of the book takes a different turn, and the main character moves from being just a crazy guy with a death wish to acting positively, creating love. This isn't my favourite Walker Percy novel, but it does have its good points.
Jul 03, 2011 Bobby rated it really liked it
Shelves: fiction
Many fantastic passages and ideas interspersed with a few lines that sound a bit forced. Some of the prose hasn't aged well. Not sure how I feel about his conclusions but the examination of a man's thoughts as he contemplates suicide is powerful. Overall more enjoyable than The Moviegoer though I suspect I will be in the minority with that opinion.
Aug 30, 2008 Chad rated it it was amazing
I randomly bought this book complete with a cheesy 1980s cover picture at a flea market for a dollar. I finally picked it up to read one day and was blown away. I loved it, especially when Will Barrett goes on his "experiment".
Allison C. McCulloch
Sep 13, 2008 Allison C. McCulloch rated it it was ok
Recommends it for: people who think that ppl named Allison are mentally handicapped
Shelves: fiction
I remember hating it. I was young. I was named Allison and I was annoyed that the girl named Allison was mentally handicapped. But I wanted to read a Walker Percy book so I gave it the whole thing.
Jun 10, 2009 Charlotte rated it it was amazing
Walker Percy is not for everyone but go look up some reviews and see if he is a fit. For me, he is.
Nov 30, 2015 Ashley marked it as to-read  ·  review of another edition
Cyber Monday deal for Kindles. Couldn't resist.
Stephen Hicks
Dec 27, 2016 Stephen Hicks rated it really liked it
It had been a long pause in my reading of Walker Percy, and this was a wonderful work to re-enter into his crazy, convoluted world. The two main characters (one a depressed, suicidal multi-millionaire lawyer and the other an escapee from a mental institute) couldn't have been more wondrously or wackily crafted.

Percy touches on the themes that are so dear to him in other books such as The Moviegoer, more specifically, what is the meaning of existence, what is the nature of meaning (especially in
Dec 26, 2016 Elisabeth rated it really liked it
I really enjoyed this; it was so different--funny and touching! I loved the setting: a wealthy community in the western NC Mountains (which was home for me for along time). An old rich golfer has a relationship with a hippie girl who has escaped the mental institution, where she endured shock therapy.
Brian S
The story never really caught hold, although it seemed like if might several times. Some of the dialogue was just plain annoying.
Stephen Phillips
Oct 11, 2011 Stephen Phillips rated it liked it
Recommends it for: spiritual seekers
Is it possible for people to miss their lives in the same way that one misses a plane? And how is it that death, the nearness of it, can help to restore a life?

For some reason, that quote rocked me, and many more like it pushed this book up to a three-star minimum for me.:)

I read Walker Percy's The Second Coming a few months after re-reading The Moviegoer, which I'd carried with me after my English professor recommended it to me a number of years ago. Percy is an author that I want to enjoy part
May 04, 2015 Emusam rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fun-lit, usa, southern
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
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Walker Percy (1916–1990) was one of the most prominent American writers of the twentieth century. Born in Birmingham, Alabama, he was the oldest of three brothers in an established Southern family that contained both a Civil War hero and a US senator. Acclaimed for his poetic style and moving depictions of the alienation of modern American culture, Percy was the bestselling author of six fiction t ...more
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“You can get all A's and still flunk life.” 411 likes
“My mother refused to let me fail. So I insisted.” 36 likes
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