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A Land More Kind Than Home [Paperback]

Wiley Cash
4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (47 customer reviews)
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Book Description

28 Mar 2013

A New York Times bestseller and winner of the UK's John Creasey Award for Debut Crime Novel of the Year

'Mesmerizing. Intensely felt and beautifully told' New York Times

One Sunday nine-year-old Jess Hall watches in horror as his autistic brother is smothered during a healing service in the mountains of North Carolina.

Wiley Cash uses this haunting image - inspired by a horrific true event - to spin us into a spellbinding, heartbreaking story about cruelty and innocence, and the failure of faith and family to protect a child.

This is a novel thick with stories and characters connected by faith, infidelity, and a sense of hope that is both tragic and unforgettable.

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Product details

  • Paperback: 336 pages
  • Publisher: Black Swan (28 Mar 2013)
  • Language: Unknown
  • ISBN-10: 0552778206
  • ISBN-13: 978-0552778206
  • Product Dimensions: 19.6 x 12.6 x 2.6 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (47 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 181,357 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

I deeply love my native state of North Carolina, especially its mountains. I hope my love for this region is evident in A Land More Kind than Home's portrayal of western North Carolina's people, culture, and religious faith. While A Land More Kind than Home revolves around a young autistic boy who is smothered during a church healing service, the novel's three narrators all represent my experience of growing up in North Carolina and being raised in an evangelical church.

Like Jess Hall, the younger brother who secretly witnesses the tragedy that befalls his brother, I often found myself sitting in church and waiting for something to happen. As a boy I was promised that I would recognize my salvation when I felt Jesus move inside my heart; however, like Jess, I attempted to rationalize the mysteries of Christianity, and I soon realized that we often use faith to fill the empty spaces in our lives. Like Adelaide Lyle, the church matriarch who straddles the divide between religious faith and old-time folk belief, my own religious beliefs are rounded out with a healthy dose of skepticism. While I'm always suspicious of those who pray the loudest, I can't help but acknowledge the tug on my heart when I witness a baptism, and I can't account for the inexplicable peace that comes from humming an old-time gospel. But I most identify with the character Clem Barefield, the local sheriff who must sift through his own tragic past to solve the mystery of the healing gone wrong, because, like Clem, I'm guided only by what I can perceive of this world, and I'm hesitant to get lost in following those who claim to be led by a spirit from the next.

I began writing A Land More Kind than Home while working on my Ph.D. at the University of Louisiana, where I spent five long years sweating, celebrating Mardi Gras, and missing the mountains of North Carolina. While living in Lafayette, I took a fiction workshop with Ernest J. Gaines, who taught me that by writing about home I could recreate that place no matter where I lived. Gaines made this clear to me one afternoon while we were visiting an old cemetery near the plantation where he was born. He pointed to a grave marker and said, "You remember Snookum from A Gathering of Old Men? He's buried right over there." While none of the characters in A Land More Kind than Home are based on people who actually existed, they're all amalgams of the types of people I knew growing up. In creating these people and the place they live I got to watch the sun split the mist on the ridges above the French Broad River. From my desk in Louisiana I pondered the silence of snow covered fields. While living in a place that experiences only summer and fall, I watched the green buds sprout on the red maples, and I was there when their leaves began to shrivel before giving way to the wind. I lived in two places at once, and it was wonderful.

I became a Southern writer because I wanted to recreate the South that I know, and I learned to write about the South from the writers I loved. Because of this, I knew it was important to garner support for A Land More Kind than Home from authors like Gail Godwin, Fred Chappell, Bobbie Ann Mason, and Clyde Edgerton. These writers wield an enormous influence on my work, and I have no doubt that they can say the same for the writers who came before them. Gaines often recalls William Faulkner's invocation of Oxford, Mississippi as a little postage stamp of earth that he continually mined throughout his career. Gaines did the same thing in his Louisiana fiction. That's what I tried to do in A Land More Kind than Home. My next novel is set in the same region of North Carolina. Fortunately, this part of the country is much larger than Oxford, and I can't imagine ever running out of stories to tell about it.

Product Description


"Mesmerizing. Intensely felt and beautifully told" (New York Times)

"I guarantee you will be thinking about this novel for days after you have finished the final page. This novel flexes its muscles and with breath-taking prose delivers a punch worthy of Mohammed Ali" (Crimesquad.com)

"Electrifying debut" (Financial Times)

"One of the most powerful novels I have ever read" (Fred Chappell, author of I AM ONE OF YOU FOREVER and BRIGHTEN THE CORNER WHERE YOU ARE)

"I think this could be the beginning of a long, fruitful career" (Ernest J. Gaines, author of A LESSON BEFORE DYING and THE AUTOBIOGRAPHY OF MISS JANE PITTMAN)

Book Description

Winner of the John Creasey 'New Blood' Award 2012 - set in the American south where a young boy witnesses the murder of his young brother.

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Customer Reviews

4.2 out of 5 stars
4.2 out of 5 stars
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
9 of 9 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Serious Message 20 Mar 2012
Format:Hardcover|Vine Customer Review of Free Product (What's this?)
Wiley Cash's novel A Land More Kind Than Home deals with serious issues, but with a very gentle voice.
Set in the South Carolina and based upon real facts, this story feels more like a historical novel than a modern-day novel. Narrated in the first person by the three lead characters, the story gently and slowly unfolds, leading to the horrific incident in the Church and the aftermath for the community and the narrators.

There is no doubt that this is story-telling at it's best, but for me, it was just a little too slow. I found my mind wandering somewhat and like other reviewers I often struggled with the author's use of language. Yes it was authentic and realistic, but the style of grammar and dialect took something away from my enjoyment of the book.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A Wonderful Debut 29 Mar 2012
Born in North Carolina, raised in an evangelical church, Wiley Cash draws on his own personal experiences to produce this impressive debut novel.

One Sunday, in the oppressive Summer heat, the congregation of River Road Church take their religious fervour one step too far with devastating consequences. This compelling story, set in Madison County in 1986, is narrated from the perspectives of three different characters - Jess Hall, nine year old brother to Christopher "Stump" whose autism hinders any verbal communication, Clem Barefield, Sheriff of Madison County for 25 years yet still considered an outsider and finally, Adelaide Lyle, elderly spinster who leads the Sunday School yet remains wary of the Pastor, Carson Chambliss.

Chambliss is a very shady character, one of those larger than life, mesmerizing preachers who rules his ingenuous congregation with a rod of iron as well as traumatising them with snakes, poison and fire - blind faith indeed... This may be the 80s but this could be the land that time forgot. There's a great sense of place as the narrative moves from present to past and back again, evoking the seasons and landscape of this timeless setting. The author also seems very much in tune with his characters, ordinary, down to earth folk who try to get by the best they can - with perhaps one glaring exception.

If you enjoy well told stories with that languid, laconic vibe you find in the best Southern fiction, you will relish this gripping, poignant tale. Looking forward to hearing more from Madison County in Wiley Cash's future novels.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A gripping tale of religion 1 Jan 2013
Format:Hardcover|Vine Customer Review of Free Product (What's this?)
Set in a mountainous region of western North Carolina, Wiley Cash tells an extraordinary story of a young autistic boy smothered during a church service in a rural community, which is inspired by real events. The story begins with a horrific incident that a young Adelaide Lyle witnessed many years ago which led her never setting foot inside that church again. The story is then taken to the present day with Jess Hall, a nine-year-old boy who tries to find out why his older brother has been taken to the mysterious church with the covered windows. After the tragic death of Christopher 'Stump' Hall, it is down to the local sheriff, Clem Barefield, to pick up the pieces, whilst still dealing with his own past.

'A Land More Kind Than Home,' is well paced from the opening chapter as the three very different narrators take it in turns to add more to the story. I particularly liked the characters of Adelaide, a childless woman who teaches Sunday school and Jess, the confused child whose life has been turned upside down. I found the ending to be a little far-fetched and somewhat preachy and thus I have deducted a star. However, I would recommend this book and will look out for more books from Cash in future.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Religion, relationships and rattlesnakes! 23 Feb 2012
By Freckles VINE VOICE
Format:Hardcover|Vine Customer Review of Free Product (What's this?)
This extraordinary novel will certainly stir your emotions.

Set in the oppressive heat of North Carolina, the story unfolds from the viewpoint of three people. Adelaide Lyle is a force to be reckoned with. An elderly, deeply religious matriarch, she has not attended church for ten years because she strongly disagrees with the manner of pastor Carson Chambliss's teaching methods and his dubious healing practices. Instead, she teaches Sunday school to the local children at her home. Clem Barefield is the town sheriff. He's a "regular kind of guy" and a popular figurehead in the community. There is sadness in his past which links him to the family of our third character Jess Hall. Jess is just nine years old, but he has witnessed more than any child should have to.

One Sunday, he spies through a church window at a healing service which attempts to "cure" his mute, autistic older brother Christopher. He not only doesn't comprehend what he is watching, but is scared for his brother. Worse still, he is unable to tell anyone, as he knows he shouldn't have been watching. A further such healing service ends in unimaginable horror when Christopher is smothered to death. Understandably, local feelings run high and the fall out is catastrophic.

Wiley Cash has a wonderful gift of drawing you in to his novel from the first page. His understanding of personalities is first class, no mean feat when they span several generations. I loved this book. It is a pleasure to read and a debut for Cash who has a second novel in the pipeline, also set in his beloved North Carolina. I can't wait!
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars A sense of impending doom
This is amazing- one of the best books I have ever read. The writing from the young characters is spot on in tone, and following the introduction of the preacher there is an... Read more
Published 6 months ago by Andrew Nye
3.0 out of 5 stars Like the theme
The death of the boy, Stump, a mute, in a small rural town is on the one hand poignant because it happens at a Christian healing service but also because it causes family to be... Read more
Published 13 months ago by Supernova42
4.0 out of 5 stars A Slow-burning Echo Chamber of Fear, Faith and Fortitude
Authentic dialogue should always be phonetically accurate, but Wiley Cash goes one further by making his prose phonetic, too. Read more
Published 18 months ago by HeavyMetalMonty
5.0 out of 5 stars Brilliant.
Loved it. Well written, felt like I was in the Deep South. Chilling story line, very believable characters, surprised its not yet a film.
Published 19 months ago by tracy joyce
5.0 out of 5 stars Superb storytelling from a master in characterisation
I'm fussy when giving praise. I enjoy a great diversity of books but it's rare I find one that is truly deserving of praise for the quality of writing and storycraft. Read more
Published 19 months ago by Claire Kotecki
4.0 out of 5 stars Strangely Believable
This is an excellently written story. I felt instantly transported to the Southern United States and the premise and characters were excellently formed. Read more
Published 21 months ago by JJ Denny
4.0 out of 5 stars Scary (and believable) story about US religion
Really rather scary - and I have a horrible feeling this is close to the truth - about the power of religious sects in the back waters of the USA. Read more
Published 22 months ago by Mark Shackelford
4.0 out of 5 stars A slow start
This story is based on, I suggest, a collection of real life stories as opposed to a specific case.
Based in South Carolina, in possibly the 50s/60s, it has a slow start but... Read more
Published 22 months ago by Clare Mccann
5.0 out of 5 stars A Haunting, Poignant Tale from the South
This is a beautifully evocative book. In the reading I found myself totally entranced by the character's telling. Read more
Published 22 months ago by John W. Edelman
3.0 out of 5 stars Shocking and compelling
In "A Land More Kind Than Home", the reader is transported to the gritty, dusty landscape of the North Carolina mountains in the southern United States. Read more
Published 24 months ago by San Diego surfer
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