A Land More Kind Than Home by Wiley Cash

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A Land More Kind Than Home by Wiley Cash

Category: General Fiction
Rating: 4.5/5
Reviewer: Sue Magee
Reviewed by Sue Magee
Summary: A story of religion, of childhood and the loss of innocence. It's a relatively short read and with real pace. Highly recommended.
Buy? Yes Borrow? Yes
Pages: 320 Date: March 2012
Publisher: Doubleday
External links: Author's website
ISBN: 978-0857520807

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In a small town in western North Carolina there was a storefront church with newspapers across the windows so that no one could see in. Adelaide Lyle remembered to days when it was a store, as well as the days when she used to attend the church regularly, but after a woman died in a 'healing' ritual which involved a snake and her body was left in her garden she decided that she couldn't attend and nor could she allow the town's children to run the risk. For a while this separation worked reasonably well until a series of incidents, many quite small in themselves, provoked a tragedy.

Jess Hall had an older brother, Christopher, although his mother was the only one who called him that. To everyone else he was Stump - and Stump was mute. The pastor decided that Stump could be 'healed' and one Sunday he was taken to church twice. In the morning a horrified Jess watched through a crack in the wall as Stump fought to escape from those who were trying to squeeze him into speech. In the evening he saw his brother's body brought out of the church. He'd been smothered.

It's the sheriff, Clem Barefield, who had to deal with Stump's death and the repercussions, but Clem had demons of his own which he had to fight before he could bring some measure of order to his town. The story of what happened is told through the three voices of Adelaide, Jess and Clem.

There are a couple of things which you need to know. I am seriously phobic about snakes. I cannot bear to see a picture of one or to read about them - and there are a lot of snakes in this book, but I couldn't put it down. It's that good. The story was inspired by the death of a young boy in similar circumstances in Chicago and Wiley Cash has taken that idea and moved it to the place which he knows best - western North Carolina. The people and the places are fictional, but they're obviously loosely based on fact. Writing from this base can so easily produce caricatures but there's an added element here.

It's obvious that Cash has affection for the people and the places where he grew up. It's tobacco country and an area where the words in the bible are all too often taken literally. Cash understands this, accepts that people have strange traditions, extreme beliefs but still sees them for what they are. It makes for a particularly powerful story.

I'd like to thank the publishers for sending a copy to the Bookbag.

It's perhaps going a little far to compare the book with To Kill A Mockingbird by Harper Lee or even The Help by Kathryn Stockett but there's that same feel for the southern United States, but if this book appeals you might enjoy one that's set a little further north - in western New York State - Arcadia by Lauren Groff.

Buy A Land More Kind Than Home by Wiley Cash at Amazon You can read more book reviews or buy A Land More Kind Than Home by Wiley Cash at Amazon.co.uk.

Buy A Land More Kind Than Home by Wiley Cash at Amazon You can read more book reviews or buy A Land More Kind Than Home by Wiley Cash at Amazon.com.


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