"A Burning in Homeland" is...a wonderfully written, crazily romantic story of intense love and devastating betrayal
...a stunning debut of a remarkably gifted young novelist
...a Southern novel that captures the beauty, madness and mystery of both place and time.
In what can only be described as a tour-de-force of passionate atmospheric storytelling, first-time novelist Richard Yancey had created a finely nuanced narrative that resounds with raw, emotional truths -- a story about the ominous return to a small town in central Florida of a man once sentenced to prison for defending the honor of the woman he loved, about the woman and her husband who both betrayed him, and about a guileless young boy who gets caught up in their web of love, lies, and deceit.
The story of the love between Halley Martin and Mavis Howell is seldom talked about in the tiny town of Homeland, Florida, but in the twenty years since Halley was sent to prison for murdering a rival suitor -- the only murder ever in this small, pious town -- the story has become legend. To seven-year-old Shiny Parker it has become a mystery, something his parents whisper about. He knows that somehow the pretty wife of the local minister is involved, but it is all too confusing for him to sort out.
When the church's parsonage burns, almost killing the minister, only days before the legendary Halley Martin is due to be released from prison, Shiny senses a connection between the events -- as do most residents of the town. But if Haley was still in prison when the house burned, who set the fire...and why?
Passionate love, the betrayal of friendship, hidden letters, a suspicious fire, mystery and revenge -- all areelements of this complex and deeply involving Southern gothic tale.
Alternating among a trio of first person narrators -- Shiny, Mavis, and Halley -- Richard Yancey has created a lush, epic Southern landscape bursting with larger than life characters and rich atmospherics. "A Burning in Homeland" is both starkly haunting and exquisitely romantic and a masterpiece of dazzling storytelling you will not soon forget.
Rick is a native Floridian and a graduate of Roosevelt University in Chicago. He earned a B.A. in English which he put to use as a field officer for the Internal Revenue Service. Inspired and encouraged by his wife, he decided his degree might also be useful in writing books and in 2004 he began writing full-time.
Since then he has launched two critically acclaimed series: The Extraordinary Adventures of Alfred Kropp, for young readers, and The Highly Effective Detective, for adults. Both books are set in Knoxville, Tennessee, where Rick lived for ten years before returning to Florida.
In 1961, Halley Martin returns to Homeland, Florida. He just got out of prison, after doing 20 years of hard time. His arrival seems to coincide with a fire that destroys the home of Preacher Ned Jeffries, who is severely burned in the blaze. This causes the town to start talking, and wonder if the two events are related. Also, if they are related then how are they related. The town comes up with their own reasons and beliefs as to why the events may have caused the other to happen, as well as if the men are related. Later, the book shows that Halley and Preacher Ned are related and have a history. Both Halley and Preacher Ned have an old acquaintance. Halley and Preacher Ned have a crazy love triangle going on where they are both in love with the Preacher's wife, Mavis. Some 20 years before, Halley rashly committed a murder, apparently on Mavis' behalf, and following an accusation of rape. The book goes on to see how the love triangle will play out, and if Mavis will either stay with Preacher Ned or marry Halley.
My summary of the book was that it was not at all what I thought it was going to be. I wasn't really overly interested in the book, because I felt like it took awhile for the story line to pick up. Once it did pick up is when I became interested. Overall, I think that this is, quite simply, a terrific novel. I really like the way Rick Yancey writes, and I like how he is able to make a book set in older times interesting for young readers like me. The book is beautifully written and fun to read. I think that it also has a highly engaging plot, considering how it is set in a very romantic southern setting. The characters are well-developed and diverse. The narrative style is very clean. I think this is a very deep book with a lot of subtlety below the surface. This book would be a great choice for book clubs and contemporary literature courses. I think this book will have enduring value in time to come.
I was a little reluctant to start this book. It wasn't something that I typically reach for but I stuck with it even though it's a little slow at first. Parts that I don't really understand. But gradually i got into it and enjoyed it. I like that the story is told from a few different people's viewpoint. You can get into the mind of a couple of characters. in the beginning of the story is being told by a seven-year-old boy. He doesn't have a whole lot to do with the actual circumstances that the book surrounds. He's just an observer. With a child eyes of course. I enjoyed the story more when it progressed and we got into the head of the protagonist. It was interesting to see his point of view. Overall I felt the story was very sad. The whole concept of it at the end. And I found myself believing something that the pastor says. That love is the root of everything. It is the reason why we do everything. And can cause so much evil. Anyway good story. I suggest checking it out if you're in a rut and don't know what else to read. Would make a pretty good movie too. Had some plot twist that you don't really see coming.
All the elements of a good southern yarn are present in this novel. Told from the point of view of a seven-year-old boy growing up in the late 1950s (shades of John Grisham's A Painted House [2001:]), the story begins with a mysterious fire that destroys the home of the pastor and his family. All is lost except for a pile of letters saved by the pastor's beautiful wife, Mavis. Miss Mavis and her daughter, the sightly disturbed Sharon-Rose, are taken in by the Parkers to the dismay of the Parker boys, Bertram and Shiny. In the months to come, Shiny is tormented by Sharon-Rose and taken into confidence by Mavis as all await the release from prison of Miss Mavis' first love, the murderer Halley martin. Told in flashback, Mavis' and Halley's stories finally converge, with tragic consequences for all. Occasionally the story lapses into melodrama and most of the characters are easily recognizable southern types. Dripping with atmosphere and drama, it's a pleasure as guilty as a third helping of pecan pie.
This was a long book for me, but yet it kept me hooked just enough to keep me going and finish. I thought the author did a great job utilizing the story being told by different viewpoints. It was definitely not the kind of book I am used to reading. There were a couple of times, I thought I might have to put it down because I was afraid it might go into "pornographic mode", but the author spared us the details and I am grateful that wasn't the case. I was intrigued by Halley and by Mavis and I really couldn't wait to find out how after 20 years, how it would all turn out. Sadly, I was disappointed in the ending. Not the outcome I was wishing for, but then that is life. Our endings aren't always perfect. And deep down, the ending is kind of as it should be. I mean, hey, murderers and liars shouldn't get the happy ending right? But I really thought the author told the story well and for someone reason I felt sorry for Halley and his circumstances. Great first novel. I will try another from this author.
This was an intriguing story of a small town with an old, buried story of murder that begins to resurface.
Begins with the narration of a 7 year old boy whose voice I absolutely loved to hear! But the narration does change to different characters, but the little boy's voice will return - thankfully. The thoughts he shares made me laugh out loud and smile a lot.
Deals with issues of mistrust, betrayal, lie vs. truth, love, faith....an ending that will really take you by surprise.
I can't believe this is Mr. Yancey's first novel. It is like nothing I've ever read before, he weaves a great story. I love how the story is half narrated by a character "outside" the main plot. This second perspective makes it like two stories in one. The only complaint I have is that I had hoped the ending would be a little stronger, but I can't complain that much because it is written realistically. This author has tremendous talent!
Wow. Although there were some slow spots, I easily give this book a four star review. There is some very powerful imagery in here that pulls the reader into the characters' misery, but the occasional light, funny moment or comment keeps the "whole" from becoming a maudlin, gothic southern melodrama. I thoroughly enjoyed the book. Those 'slow spots' and the too-long "letters as dialogue" sections were the only thing keeping this one from being a five-star. Powerful book. v
I loved how well this book went together. Told from the point of view of a little boy for part of the time, and how kids look at life with such innocence. Also told through letters written and sometimes mailed, but mostly not.