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The Second Coming

3.98 of 5 stars 3.98  ·  rating details  ·  1,426 ratings  ·  104 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
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Paperback, 360 pages
Published September 13th 1999 by Picador (first published 1980)
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To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper LeeGone with the Wind by Margaret MitchellThe Help by Kathryn StockettThe Adventures of Huckleberry Finn by Mark TwainFried Green Tomatoes at the Whistle Stop Cafe by Fannie Flagg
Best Southern Literature
179th out of 799 books — 1,903 voters
The Screwtape Letters by C.S. LewisLeaper by Geoffrey  WoodThe God Cookie by Geoffrey  WoodThe Chronicles of Narnia by C.S. LewisThe Lord of the Rings Trilogy by J.R.R. Tolkien
Best Catholic Fiction
47th out of 193 books — 186 voters


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Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 2,445)
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Darwin8u
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
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Ned Mozier
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!
flannery
"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.
Becky
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
Kristen
Jul 13, 2008 Kristen rated it 5 of 5 stars
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)
Susan Emmet
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
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Alan
Nov 05, 2009 Alan rated it 3 of 5 stars  ·  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
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Steve
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
Michael
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
Jasonlylescampbell
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
Dave
Mar 21, 2014 Dave rated it 3 of 5 stars
Shelves: lit
Why do people seek to imprison those near them? There is a subtext of confinement and the issues that are generated from it in this book.

Will's - the male protagonist - recently deceased wife was confined to a wheelchair, did she confine him to an early retirement and others to an old folks home to put them in the same position?

Allie - the female protagonist - escapes from a mental home and avoids her parents trying to re-institutionalize her. Allie's confinement is less subtle than Will's.

In
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Bobby
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.
Pam
This story is a delight. Walker Percy creates characters that you never think you will connect with and then....they end up speaking the words and yearnings that you think are only in you. He communicates the universal truths of purpose and the desire for deep soulful connection.
Percy does this through characters that society has cast away: the elderly, the widowed, the confused, and the previously (but not permanently) scarred. As they find their authentic community, you realize you want to be
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James
Walker Percy is a celebrated Southern author which I have always been ashamed to have not read. This was my first of his novels and it made me wonder if I had waded in at the wrong end of the pool. This is a novel about mental illness, love, suicidal tendencies, and ultimately God (though it gets there by a circuitous route). The main character, a wealthy widower, has a medical condition (un-diagnosed) which causes him to fall down on the golf course. When he does, he starts remembering details ...more
Chad
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 2 of 5 stars
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.
Mackay
I didn't get it. I confess, this is the first Walker Percy novel I ever finished, but I didn't get it - either the story or all the fuss about Percy as a novelist.

This was a selection of my book club, and what I found fascinating was that the two people in the group who grew up in the South found the story and characters and style approachable and even funny. An example of regionalism? Who knows?

But this book, though it had its moments, mostly left me cold. I disliked most of the feckless charac
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Writermom123
*Disclaimer - after years of reading for others (academic, professional) I am back to reading. I'm sure how I experience what I read will evolve.

I enjoyed the writing style of this book. It was slow to begin, but I became more curious as it moved along, partly wondering if I would ever "get" the point of it all.

The main female character, Allison, was someone I could understand and empathize with. Unfortunately, I never quite found the protagonist, Wil, believable or trustworthy, and so the event
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Titus Burley
Having never read anything by Walker Percy I had no idea what kind of storyteller or stylist I was about to stroll along with. Turns out I stumbled into a garden on philosophic delights. Rare is the author who can write the thinking person's novel with such forward movement. Ultimately The Second Coming is an offbeat, quirky love story; one that has you pulling for the these two "golf sliced, out of the mainstream, off the beaten path, in the rough" protagonists and hoping their paths will weld ...more
Charlotte
Walker Percy is not for everyone but go look up some reviews and see if he is a fit. For me, he is.
E
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
Jenny
This is the first book that I have read by Walker Percy and I have concluded that he will never be one of my favorit Southern writers. The book was interesting but I was not enchanted.

Percy is a keen observer of the world and the book contains some fascinating descriptions of ordinaty things like an antique stove, skunkweed on the edge of a golf course, and a cross country journey through the Arizona desert to Hollywood California. He economically uses language to capture the essence of people
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Stephen Phillips
Oct 11, 2011 Stephen Phillips rated it 3 of 5 stars
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
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Raychelle
Percy has an interesting style of writing. I can confidently say it is like nothing I have previously read before, and despite my low, 2-star rating, I would say this is a good thing. I can't clearly explain his style, but know it's not for everyone.

I suppose my reason for not scoring this novel higher is that, despite all the deep lessons and truths that it teaches, it's hard for me to see his characters being genuine and sincere. Will Barrett, the main protagonist insists that life is a farce
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Sarah
I read this author based on a recommendation; this was one of the Percy books they had at the library. On the whole, I am really glad I read it. If it is possible to dislike the protagonist of a novel while thouroughly enjoying the prose that captured him, then that is what happened with me and The Second Coming. It was immensely readable, and the style was very quirky, "zany" as the book jacket said. I had such fun reading his rippling prose. I just disliked the main male character Will Barrett ...more
Robert B
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
Charles
Capsule Review: Don't Read Walker Percy. Ever.

Longer Review: If somebody recommends this book (or any other of his books) to you, rest assured that that he will one day soon try to convince you that the Eagles really are rock n' roll. Afterwards, he will probably inflict some of his "poetry" on you. You know the kind of stuff I mean: four-line stanzas in ABAB that will inevitably rhyme the words "pain" with "insane," "soul" with "hole," "heart" with "apart," and "feel" with "unreal." Luckily, th
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John
The more I read from Percy, the more I appreciate him. His characters are quirky. His stories are unique. They make me laugh. Yet they also confuse me.

The Second Coming is great. Will discovers that he's not really living. His life, and the lives of others, are a sham. They are meaningless. Ally's life is a mess. She's emotionally damaged.

They meet and fall in love but this is far from a simple love story. The characters are too odd. And Will searches for meaning. He doubts the existence of Go
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Adam Shields
Short review: I am trying to read more 20th century literary fiction. Walker Percy seems like someone I should like to read. I knew nothing about the book when I started. It is actually a sequel to the Last Gentleman, but I don't think I miss anything (or at least not much) but not having read that first.
Will is a middle aged, recent widower. He is retired, rich and wandering. He meets Allison, a recently escaped patient from a mental institution that just happens to be the daughter of an old fl
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Iris
In The Second Coming, Will Barrett struggles with suicidal thoughts that follow his wife's death. His own dad committed suicide, and Will feels the call to follow in his footsteps. However, Will has met Allie, a girl who has runaway from a sanitarium and lives in an abandon greenhouse. Allie seems to bring sanity to his crazy thoughts.

The Second Coming is a very well-written story. The writing is definately four-star worthy. I chose to give it three stars because the story didn't end how I would
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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
More about Walker Percy...
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“You can get all A's and still flunk life.” 387 likes
“My mother refused to let me fail. So I insisted.” 25 likes
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