Book Tour & GIVEAWAY: ‘The Homecoming of Samuel Lake’ by Jenny Wingfield

The Homecoming of Samuel Lake

by Jenny Wingfield

Random House

Pub. Date:   July 10, 2012

Book received from: Publisher via TLC Book Tours

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Genre:  Adult general fiction/ Southern fiction

Cover:  Fits the story, but not too memorable

Characters:  Well-connected storylines, but not very likable and pretty clichéd

Worth the read?  Not really- time would be better spent watching The Man in the Moon

Favorite quote:

“The girl, she had named Swan.  Not because a swan is beautiful, but because it is powerful.  A girl needs power that she doesn’t have to borrow from anyone else.”

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Screenwriter Jenny Winfield’s first novel is set in rural Arkansas in the late 1950s, and explores the complexities of a family that is thrown, or drawn, back together through tragedy.  Samuel Lake is a minister that cannot keep a congregation, and he is struggling to keep his family intact as well.  The Homecoming of Samuel Lake takes a simple time and place and delves into the dark and complicated personalities and situations that are a result of everyday living.  It is about a time and place that stays the dame for generations, but is constantly changing those who live there.

Jenny Wingfield is best known for writing The Man in the Moon, starring Reese Witherspoon in her first role, and exploring many of the same themes as The Homecoming of Samuel Lake.  There are many similarities between the two, including the setting of a rural southern town in the 1950s.  The main thing that sets the two apart is the ability to connect with the characters in The Man in the Moon, whereas the characters of Samuel Lake are mostly unlikable and somewhat bland, with the daughter, Swan, being the exception.  Just her name alone will make the reader fall for her precocious nature.

There are many storylines in Samuel Lake, and by the end, they all do connect.  However, getting there is a bit of a chore at times.  When they all converge over shared tragedy- yet again- in the end, it seems a bit of a stretch and out of character for all those involved.  In an effort to avoid any spoilers, I will just say that I found the ending completely unnecessary, and took away some of what could have been a more poignant story.

One of the things that bothered me about the characterizations was the overuse of clichés, such as the crotchety, unagreeable atheist.  There are times that the writing became a bit preachy for my taste, but many will enjoy the preacher’s angle.  While the story was supposed the be focused on Samuel Lake, it seems to lose that focus early on, with Swan being the central character that brings everyone and everything together.  This is the best choice Wingfield made in writing this book, because Samuel is not a strong enough character to have carried the story on his own, without placing this book clearly into the Christian Fiction category.

While The Homecoming of Samuel Lake has promise in parts, it never quite grows into fruition as well as it could have.  Many of the parts are overshadowed by graphic violence that often goes without consequence, possibly to give the story a darker edge than is really needed.  Many will enjoy this book and find it to be an enjoyable and poignant read.  However, I will simply be sitting down with a glass of tea and watching The Man in the Moon once more to remember what Wingfield really is capable of producing.

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Random House has generously offered a copy of ‘The Homecoming of Samuel Lake’ for one lucky reader.  To be entered, simply comment below & tell me what is your favorite southern-set story is (book or movie), with your e-mail address in the comment.   
Must be at least 17-years-old and live in the US/CAN.  I will pick a winner by random July 16, 2012.

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Check out the entire blog tour calendar.

‘The Homecoming of Samuel Lake’ can be purchased at Amazon.com, as well as your local independent bookseller.

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7 thoughts on “Book Tour & GIVEAWAY: ‘The Homecoming of Samuel Lake’ by Jenny Wingfield

  1. To be completely honest I have only ever read two southern set stories (I dont know why I havent read more!) But they were the secret life of bees and the help. They were both really good.
    megnate at telus dot net

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