As you may have seen, for July book club I chose ‘A Land More Kind Than Home’ by Wiley Cash (after reading his second book, This Dark Road to Mercy). And man, I have to say, this is one of the best books I’ve read in a long time. It got me in every way a book can “get you”.
So like always, here’s how this’ll go. I’ll post some questions for discussion, and you guys let er’ rip. Here’s what Amazon says about the book if you don’t believe me about how great it is. As always, there will be SPOILERS. So, join us if you’ve read the book or if spoilers don’t bother you 🙂
I’d love to hear your thoughts on any of the following (feel free to number your comment to correspond to the discussion point). Or you can talk about anything else that struck you about the book. Oh and special thanks to Wiley Cash for having discussion questions in the book (remember I said this will be summer reading material for sure), and for responding to all my tweets/fb tags. I always think it’s cool when authors and anyone else takes the time to respond. ‘Preciate it.
So okay folks, let the discussion begin. I’ll pick and choose a little here, and sub in some others not from the back of the book discussion.
1. Let’s talk about my tweet. Who would play Carson Chambliss in a film? Love the idea of Michael Shannon. Chambliss’s character is “magnetic” as Cash puts it. How does he have such a hold on his congregation and on Julie?
In my opinion, this is a really scary thing that is happening in churches today. As Brene Brown says in her TED talk, “Religion has gone from a belief in faith and mystery, to certainty. I’m right. You’re wrong. Shut up.” And I think this is Wiley’s commentary on that. Particularly in the southeast where we are…it gets scary here, and I think Chambliss really personifies that fear. Luckily, I’m an Episcopalian…we tend to embrace the questioning and uncertainty that is faith.
2. “How might the events in the story have unfolded differently if Jess had told his mother the truth about what she heard at the Sunday afternoon service?”
Ugh….ensue my gut-wrenching. This is so sad. I totally understood Jess’s inability to be honest with his mom, he’d seen a lot of hard things. And perhaps part of him wanted her to believe that so she could be happier with Stump and his condition. But so much could have changed if he told. But hey–that’s life.
3. What did you think about the setting?
For me, it felt very familiar, which deepened my connection to this book. Loved the setting and I was actually driving through Western NC from the lake while I was listening to parts of this on Audible. Kind of made me look around and picture the events that were being read aloud. They even mention Stephens Co. and Toccoa, GA where I’ve spent every summer since I was 8 at Camp Mikell–so that was pretty spectacular. He nailed the setting perfectly, but I guess Cash would since he’s up thatta’ way.
4. Addie pulled all the children out of the church when she became aware of the “doings” of Chambliss and some of the other folks in the church. She’s a “good christian”, but doesn’t attend church. Are these things contradictory?
Obviously, my answer may be a little different, being married to an Epis. priest and whatnot. But no, going to church and “showing face” doesn’t make you good or bad. I’m a pretty firm believer in “whatever works for each person”. So if you feel good after going to church, good! If you feel better not going to church and sipping your coffee and having quiet time Sunday morning? Good! We’ve got society telling us lots of things to do and not to do to be “good” and “better”, but church and religion is pretty personal. So do your thing. Whatever that is. That’s how I feel about it.
5. The characters are so dynamic in this book. Jess. Clem. Jimmy Hall (grandpa). Ben Hall (dad). Julie. Addie. Stump. Chambliss. And others. It’s pretty amazing how Cash brings these folks to life and how the story unfolds. So heart wrenching and full of evil, revenge and betrayal, but wrapped up in forgiveness, faith and understanding.
As these are the novels themes, what did you think of the book?
Now I know I’ve convinced a handful of folks to read this book in the last month, so y’all…chime in! What did you think?