All I need to be entertained are cats within ear-scratching distance and a good book . . .OK, maybe that's not ALL I need, but it's a good start.

I love to read. And I love to get recommendations for books to read.

I started Cats and a Book to share the books I read with others. Some I love, some I don't, but you may love the ones I don't, so you're welcome to post your own comments and suggestions.

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Happy reading!

Saturday, April 14, 2012

A Land More Kind Than Home, by Wiley Cash

A Land More Kind Than Home, by Wiley Cash, is a powerful and gripping novel about culture, religion, and family.  Set in rural Madison County in western North Carolina, the story centers around a local preacher at the River Road Church of Christ in Signs Following. 

The story is told from three perspectives.  Adelaide Lyle narrates part of the story.  She is eighty-one years old and has spent many of her years in Madison County.  After witnessing the death of one of the church members from a snake bite, she takes the children of the church outdoors for Sunday School, while their parents are behind the building’s newspaper-covered windows.  Jess Hall is nine, and lives with his mute brother “Stump” and his parents.  His mother is an ardent church member who falls under the spell of its charismatic leader.   Finally, Clem Barefield is the local sheriff, who has a history with Jess’s ne’er-do-well grandfather.  Sheriff Barefield  unravels a secret about the church’s pastor that puts him in danger of his life.  When a tragedy occurs during a church service, conflicts turn violent and Jess Hall’s world changes forever. 

Jess and Stump stay with Miss Lyle until one fateful Sunday morning. Stump is selected to attend the grown- up services, and Jess spies on the proceedings.  When he sees what's happening, he calls out "Mama!" which the churchgoers assume is Stump, and word of Stump's healing is called a miracle.  Jess later says it was a mirage, "It was like Mama was lost in the desert and had gotten so thirsty that she was willing to see anything that might make her feel better about being lost.  I knew that she needed to think she heard Stump holler out for her, even if I knew he didn't, and I wondered if it was a sin to think any less of a miracle just because you know it ain't real."  

Cash’s first novel has it all:  gripping scenes of suspense, emotional reactions that threaten to overcome reason, love and family loyalty, and evil and control disguised as religion.  This is a book you’ll find hard to put down, and waiting not-so-patiently for Cash’s next novel. 

A Land More Kind Than Home was published by William Morrow in 2012.  

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