Nancy's Reviews > The Homecoming of Samuel Lake

The Homecoming of Samuel Lake by Jenny Wingfield
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's review
Aug 28, 2011

really liked it
Read in August, 2011

** spoiler alert ** Samuel Lake is a preacher, married to Willadee Moses. They have 3 children, daughter Swan and sons Nobel and Bienville. They go to visit Willadee's mother & father Calla & John for the annual Moses reunion. Samuel doesn't go because he has to go to the Methodist annual conference to be assigned to a new church. John kills himself seemly over being distraught over son's Walter's death and his estrangement with his wife Calla. Samuel is not given a church so the family stays at the farm with Calla. Calla's son Toy (who lost a leg in the service and had killed a man who was with his wife Bernice when he came back from the service -- but since the man was a scoundrel the murder was covered up) takes over John's business which was a bar attached to the back of the farmhouse. Much of the story belongs to the children who play and try to win Toy's affections. Swan befriends Blade, an abused boy, who has run away from his father. The boy's father, Ras, is an evil man who abuses animals as well as his wife and boy. Bernice tries to win Samuel back (they were once an item -- until she threw him over & he met Willadee) by pretending to be "saved" as Samuel opens a revival across the road from the farm. Blade eventually comes to live with the Lakes at Calla's, going to school, playing and Ras gets his revenge by kidnapping and raping Swan. Samuel recovers Swan and kills Ras, but Toy claims that he did it to save Samuel. Bernice by now has figured she can't win Samuel and is off with another man. Toy gets 20 years in prison. In the end the family is moving on -- Willadee now has a restaurant at the back of the farm, instead of a bar, Samuel is making the farm work and the family seems to be holding together.
This books makes you think about families, miracles, and how life changes. I like the occasional words written like ....when Things Started Happening. It reminded me of Homesick, My Own Story by Jean Fritz who said her father would call something a Narrow Squeak. This was Wingfield's first novel and I would definitely read the next one!
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