The Last Homecoming
by Dan Chabot
HOME IS WHERE THE HEARTSTRINGS ARE… Three troubled strangers gather on Christmas Eve to say farewell to a doomed old house, the secure shelter and refuge where each of them grew up over the course of 90 years. They all have warm, golden memories of youthful, magical Christmases here, and of the Rockwell-esque small town that nourished them as children. These old walls were witness to the stories of… …An elderly, feisty nun with life-searing experiences as a nurse in World War II, whose promiscuous youth still haunts her; …A depressed former Major League baseball pitcher who is contemplating a horrific act; …The hometown newspaper editor, still dealing with the tragic consequences of her long-ago teenage love affair. They are joined by their gracious host, the last owner of the house, whose own deep attachment has led her to stage this last homecoming for people who know it is not just a house, but a shrine of memories and echoes. But before it goes down to make way for a new bridge, this safe old sanctuary has surrendered some astonishing final secrets…
My thoughts on this book:
Backward across the lapse of years,
With its ebbing tide of smiles and tears,
Memory turns her wistful gaze
And sighs for the pleasures of by-gone days,
Yearns for one glimpse through the crested foam
And pauses to whisper: ‘Home, Sweet Home.’
This book is the story of a 90-year-old home and the people that once lived there. The current owner, Nettie, has recently found out that the state is buying the home and tearing it down for a bridge construction project. She tried to fight it, but failed. She’s quite devastated about it, but knows she has to accept it. It’s in her heart to put together a gathering with the three previous owners that once lived there. She decides to invite them all over for a homecoming party to say goodbye for the last time.
“Merle, I want everybody who had ever lived here, those who are still around anyway, to come back one last time, to share in the comfort and love and warm memories that are left in these old walls. I know they all still love this house as much as I do. They should have a chance to say goodbye.”
The bulk of the book shares all the previous owners’ histories while living in the home with their families through the years. The writing is descriptive and the story kept my interest, but it was the well-developed characters from where much of the emotion came from for me. I couldn’t help but reminisce to my past and my childhood home which had multiple family generations that lived there over the years, beginning with my grandparents. We too grew up in a small town near Lake Michigan and the book truly took me back. It felt real and nostalgic to me with all the descriptions–one as simple as a corner triangular cabinet that we had growing up, which I’ve since tried to replicate.
I think my favorite parts of the book were toward the end with Merle the mailman (who I fell in love with) and the get-together of course. It was lovely reading about their reactions to the house that once belonged to them, comparing it to how it used to be and noting the things that remained.
“So these ghosts of yesterday wandered all through the rooms, downstairs and up, into and out of old bedrooms, gingerly touching railings and banisters. They gazed out of windows they had last looked through so long ago at vistas that had not changed all that much.”
I just loved the emotional ending and finding out more about the construction settlement was a sweet addition to the story. With that said, the book was Chrismassy, but perhaps not as Christmassy as I expected. It does have a Christmas feel to it as memories are shared, especially in the end. This is a book you can curl up with on a snowy day with a hot cup of cocoa. It’s a perfect winter read.
I won this book in a Goodreads giveaway and would like to thank the author, publisher and Goodreads for sharing this book with me.
- Paperback: 404 pages
- Publisher: CreateSpace Independent Publishing Platform (September 28, 2017)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 1548026018
- ISBN-13: 978-1548026011
Other books by Dan Chabot:
Godspeed: A Love Story
This is my December pick for The Ultimate Reading Challenge which can be seen by clicking HERE.
Thanks for reading my review. Please feel free to leave comments below.