Book Review: The Homecoming of Samuel Lake

July 30, 2012 Book Review, reviews 21

Book Review: The Homecoming of Samuel LakeThe Homecoming of Samuel Lake by Jenny Wingfield
Published by Random House on July 10th, 2012
Genres: Fiction, Historical
Pages: 352
Source: purchased
AmazonBarnes & Noble


Every once in a blue moon a book comes along that can make you laugh in one sentence and the next have you crying your heart out.  The Homecoming of Samuel Lake is one such book.  I was surprised to learn that this was written by a first-time novelist because it is that darn incredible.

Samuel Lake takes his wife Willadee and their three children to his wife’s family reunion in a small rural town in Arkansas, leaving them with her parents while he goes to the annual Methodist Convention.  Samuel expects to discover what city his family will move to for the upcoming year but instead is informed the Methodists don’t have a church for him – he’s too outspoken with views contrary to the average church, such as bringing people to church from the poorest side of town to rub elbows with everyday folk.

At the same time Samuel is discovering he is a preacher without a church, his wife’s family has a tragedy of their own during the middle of the annual reunion.  This tragedy and the loss of a church home leaves the Lake’s at Willadee’s parents’ home.  But the story truly begins when Swan Lake, Willadee and Samuel’s eleven year old daughter witnesses 8 year old neighbor, Blade, being abused by his father, Ras Ballenger.

Around the town, Ras is known as the devil – he is a cruel, evil man who enjoys beating his family into submission.  Swan and her brothers become obsessed with saving Blade from the horrific beatings from his father.  Enlisting the help of beloved characters like Grandma Calla and Uncle Toy, the Lake children spend the summer attempting to save Blade, break through the silent brick wall Uncle Toy has erected and figuring out where they belong in the world now that they are no longer “preacher’s kids.”

A beautiful book, both heart-warming and tragic – Swan has been compared to Scout from To Kill a Mockingbird and I would daresay the southernisms affectionately portrayed put me in mind of The Secret Life of Bees.  Highly recommended.

To win a copy of The Homecoming of Samuel Lake leave a comment about your favorite southern fiction novel.  Contest closes on August 5th at 11:59 pm.  Winner will be selected and notified on August 6th.

To read what other bloggers have to say about The Homecoming of Samuel Lake visit:

Tuesday, July 10th:  The House of the Seven Tails
Wednesday, July 11th:  Twisting the Lens
Thursday, July 12th:  It’s a Crazy, Beautiful Life
Monday, July 16th:  Southern Girl Reads
Wednesday, July 18th:  Bloggin’ ‘Bout Books
Thursday, July 19th:  The Lost Entwife
Monday, July 23rd:  Book Snob
Wednesday, July 25th:  Kritter’s Ramblings
Monday, July 30th:  A Novel Source
Wednesday, August 1st:  WV Stitcher
Monday, August 6th:  A Patchwork of Books
Wednesday, August 8th:  Reviews by Lola
Monday, August 13th:  A Musing Reviews
Monday, August 20th:  Colloquium
Tuesday, August 28th:  Sweet Southern Home

21 Responses to “Book Review: The Homecoming of Samuel Lake”

  1. zibilee

    This has caught me eye several times and the great reviews have been stacking up, but I am so worried about the animal abuse in this book that I haven’t tried to win it or buy it. I take it that the bad things that happen don’t detract from what is a really awesome book, so I will put my hat in the ring to win this one. My favorite Southern Fiction novel is The Improper Life of Bezillia Grove.

    • Stacy

      I love Susan Gregg Gilmore and both of her books had me laughing and crying all in the same breath!

      And speaking of the animal abuse and child abuse AND spousal abuse in The Homecoming of Samuel Lake – it’s horrific, it’s despicable but all of it is dealt with in a sensitive and straight-on manner. I’d love to hear your thoughts about this book!

    • Stacy

      Of course you can be counted in the giveaway! I appreciate you entering! And this one is a book I’d love everyone to read simply because the Southern culture is portrayed so magnificently.

  2. anne

    Thanks for this great giveaway. A favorite Southern Fiction novel that was memorable was The Widow of the South.

    • Stacy

      that’s one I haven’t read yet! on my to be read list….must move it up to the top of the list with that recommendation

    • Stacy

      it is such a great book – i’m surprised you haven’t read it yet and i’d love to hear what your reaction is! It does seem to be like one of those books you’d really enjoy. I’ll keep my eye out to see if you get to reviewing it!

    • Stacy

      oh yeah it’s that good! put it at the top of your must read list – you won’t be disappointed

    • Stacy

      if you have any soft spot in your heart for southern fiction and coming-of-age stories then you’d be hard-pressed to not fall in love with this one

    • Stacy

      would you believe i have not read Gone With the Wind yet…seen the movie about a billion times and have not one, but TWO copies of the book….it’s one of those chunksters I’m waiting to savor – kind of like Ayn Rand’s books

  3. stacybuckeye

    I so want to get my hands on this book!!! You meantioned two of my favorites – Mockingbird and Bees, but I also loved Big Stone Gap and Saving Cee Cee Honeycutt.

    • Stacy

      would you believe I have yet to read Saving Cee Cee Honeycutt?!? I even have it on my eReader but I’m playing catch-up with all the other books I have just to review. And was Big Stone Gap by Adriana…I can’t remember how to spell her last name….or am I getting this one confused with another “Gap” book – the one on Oprah’s book club?

  4. stacybuckeye

    Yes, Big Stone Gap is by Adriana Tri…I can never remember how to spell her name either 😉 I think Oprah’s was Gap Creek? Cee Cee is a doll. I hope you like it.

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