Dwelling Places: A Novel (Vinita Hampton Wright)

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9780060790806: Dwelling Places: A Novel (Vinita Hampton Wright)

In Beulah, Iowa, widow women all over town garden in the clothes of deceased husbands. From a distance, they often look like small–framed men. They keep their husbands' clothes because it's wasteful to throw away hats and shirts that still have wear in them. They wear the clothes in memory of the men they have survived, even after the scent of them has been laundered away.

From its remarkable opening lines to its satisfying, redemptive close, Dwelling Places is a novel of plain beauty and profound emotion.

When Mack Barnes arrives home from a stay in the psych ward, he is just beginning to name his troubles, and the entire family must recognize their collective wounds. After six generations of farming, Mack's family has had to call it quits – just barely saving the family home, but at the cost of Mack's brother Alex and father Taylor Sr. Mack's mother Rita perseveres by trying to take care of everyone, everyone that is, except herself. Jodie, Mack's wife, has survived so much and coped for so long that she cannot recognize her own desperation. Her only remnant of religious faith consisting of old hymns she sings just to keep herself from total distraction, Jodie seeks solace in an ill–advised affair with a local teacher. Kenzie, Mack and Jodie's fourteen year old daughter, has turned to an idealized Jesus for comfort, while Taylor, at seventeen, deals wtih his troubles by becoming a Goth, convincing his little sister that he's given over to Satan.

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About the Author:

Vinita Hampton Wright, a novelist and editor who conducts creative writing workshops at conferences and retreats around the country, is the author of the novella The Winter Seeking and the novels Velma Still Cooks in Leeway and Grace at Bender Springs, as well as numerous nonfiction titles.

Review:

“Wright’s scenes move along almost magically...Her feel for an Iowa farm town is achingly precise. (Booklist (starred review))

“An affecting novel. . . both provocative and sage.” (Entertainment Weekly)

“A simple, graceful .... stunningly beautiful novel that is both true-to-life and, in its way, uplifting.” (Chicago Sun-Times)

“Few novelists are as wise and compassionate as Vinita Hampton Wright. Dwelling Places broke my heart and renewed my spirit.” (Wally Lamb, author of She's Come Undone)

“[A] story as rich and deep, as heartbreaking and as fruitful, as the heartland loam itself.” (Tim Farrington, author of Lizzie's War and The Monk Downstairs)

“There is no more skilled or sympathetic a raconteur of America’s heartland and America’s ordinary folk than Vinita Hampton Wright.” (Phyllis Tickle, author of The Divine Hours)

“In this extraordinarily well-observed, contemplative novel, Wright manages an astounding level of honesty and plenty of wry humor... ” (Publishers Weekly (starred review))

“A captivating, heart-warming book.” (Romantic Times BOOKclub)

“An extraordinarily well-observed, contemplative novel...” (Fort Wayne (IN) Journal Gazette)

“A poignant story. A glimmer of grace.” (Christian Science Monitor)

“If you’re looking for complex characterizations, a satisfying read, and something to draw out tears, I highly recommend DWELLING PLACES.” (Faithful Reader)

“Dwelling Places will inevitably be compared to Jane Smiley’s Pulitzer Prize-winning A Thousand Acres.” (Books & Culture)

“Wright evokes a sense of place that will resonate with any reader who has ties to the Midwestern landscape.” (Christianity Today)

“Wright’s characters, as compelling in their strength as in their imperfection, move slowly toward secure and welcoming spaces...” (Christian Century)

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