A Land More Kind Than Home by Wiley Cash
Published by: HarperCollins
Published on: April 17, 2012
Page Count: 320
Genre: Southern Fiction
My Reading Format: Audiobook purchased from Audible.com using a monthly credit
Audiobook Published by: Blackstone Audio
Narrator: Lorna Raver, Nick Sullivan, and Mark Bramhall
Audiobook Length: 8 hours 56 minutes
Available Formats: Hardcover, eBook, and Audiobook
Note: I am pleased to publish this book during Audiobook Week, hosted by Jen from Devourer of Books, as it is an example of why I love listening to and reviewing audiobooks.
Giveaway: Blackstone Audio has graciously provided me with an MP3 CD copy of this audiobook to giveaway to one of my lucky readers. For a chance to win, simply leave a comment on this post before 11:59pm EST on Tuesday, July 3rd. I’ll announce the winner on July 5th.
Adelaide Lyle has lived in the same small North Carolina town for most of her life. She’s never married or had children of her own, but, while serving as midwife, she has developed a sense of guardianship over the town’s children. That is why, after a snake handling goes wrong at her church, that she insists on keeping the children out of services and teaching them Sunday school. Jess Hall is one of the children Adelaide delivered and watched while his mother attended church. Jess is the youngest of two boys, but he must keep his brother Christopher safe. Christopher, known as Stump to everyone except their mother, is mute. Both are good boys, but they are prone to mischief just like all children. So, when they hear something strange coming from their parents bedroom one afternoon, Stump takes a look inside the window. What Stump sees and the both physical and emotional fallout will haunt Jess and the entire town for a long time to come.
A Land More Kind Than Home is told from the points of view of Adelaide, Jess, and the town’s sherif, Clem Barefield. This multiple narrator setup served the story perfectly. With Adelaide, the reader is brought up to date on the recent history of the town, specifically as it pertains to the River Road Church of Christ in Signs Following and it’s pastor, Carson Chambliss. This knowledge builds dread, suspense, and then outright fear for the boys as Jess tells the story about what happened in his yard, what he sees happening in the church, and what he doesn’t say to anyone. When Clem Barefield enters the story, it provides a sensation of immense relief I can’t ever before remember having. With him comes the hope that there might yet be help, if not salvation for Jess, Adelaide, and the town.
The narration for this novel was perfectly cast. Lorna Raver, a woman whose voice I will never tire of hearing, brought forth Adelaide’s wisdom, courage, uncertainty, and honesty from the very first line. As the church’s historian, for lack of a better term, I hung on her every word. She was magnificent. Nick Sullivan was equally outstanding as a young boy. His tone and delivery expressed Jess’ innocence and the tremendous guilt he kept in his heart. The most special part of his narration for me was the way he conveyed Jess’ love for Stump. It was amazing. I clapped my hands in giddy delight when Mark Bramhall started narrating. The very sound of his voice as he spoke Clem’s first words helped me to breathe again. His voice has that husky strength that I’ve appreciated so many times before. Going in I was worried that he would be narrating Carson Chambliss. I’m sure he would have done so fantastically, but I needed him to be the voice of justice in this book and by God he was.
Wiley Cash’s debut novel is a fine example of excellent Southern fiction. His characters, authentic and rich, reside in a small world with its own darkness that entirely captured my imagination. I loved each and every moment I spent with this novel. For me, it accomplished what Snakewoman of Little Egypt did not. It brought the religious tradition of snake handling to life and explained the power such traditions have over a congregation. This novel is about more than just backwoods people and their religious superstitions. It is about community, family, and the responsibility each person has for one another. I’m certain that reading A Land More Kind Than Home is a powerful read no matter how one experiences it, but I cannot imagine not having listened to the audiobook. It was absolutely fantastic. I hope to clap for it again next year when it wins an Audie Award.