I’ve read so much about A Land More Kind Than Home that I just had to pick it up. Let me tell you- it does not disappoint. Set in a small North Carolina town, Pastor Carson Chambliss has a different way of healing. The church windows are all covered with newspapers, keeping outsiders from seeing what happens inside. His brand of religion is one that Adelaide Lyle disapproves of, and therefore watches the children every Sunday during service. One day, Jess’s older mute brother, Stump, sees something he shouldn’t have, and the domino effect is one that brings tragedy, cruelty, and evil on a collision course.
A Land More Kind Than Home is narrated by three characters- Adelaide, the town mid-wife, Clem Barefield, the town sheriff, and Jess, whose brother Stump tragically dies during a healing. Cash’s use of three distinct characters gives the story depth and dimension. Through them, the reader learns of a disintegrating marriage, an evil Pastor feeding upon the hope and gullibility of his flock, and a man unable to shed the influence and painful memories of growing up with an alcoholic father. Adelaide, an elderly woman at the beginning of the novel, acts as the town’s historian. She remembers times and events that happened in the past, especially events which other town folk would have rather forgotten. The second narrator is Jess, and through him is the story told from someone who is innocent and still trying to figure out the world. He doesn’t understand how damaged his parents’ relationship is, his father’s childhood, or why he wasn’t allowed in the church. His role is pivotal, and he is center stage at the events that conclude this book. Clem Barefield the town sheriff, is the third narrator. Although he is not from Marshall, past events render him an important figure in relation to Jess’s grandfather.
There are so many themes and issues to discuss that this would make a fantastic book club choice. This book is about redemption, the nature of evil (and how it can hide behind religion), and the loss of innocence. Cash’s ability to tell the story from three distinct voices (distinct in maturity, perception, and background) is astounding. His writing style is enviable as he is able to quickly pull the reader in and weave a complex, engrossing and moving story. I can’t wait to read future works by Cash.