Book title: The Last Homecoming
Author: Dan Chabot
Genre: General/Contemporary fiction
Published: Fall, 2017
~ Blurb ~
The Last Homecoming traces the lives of three troubled strangers who gather on Christmas Eve to say farewell to a doomed, 90-year-old house, the secure shelter and refuge where each of them grew up. They all have warm, golden memories of youthful, magical Christmases here, and of the Rockwell-esque small town that nourished them as children. 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 secrets and yielded a final reward…
The Last Homecoming is really four stories in one: sweeping, sentimental, often humorous stories of four generations who return to their old home and once again find security, shelter and refuge in a surprise ending. Making their last visit to the house are an elderly, feisty nun with a promiscuous youthful past and searing experiences as a nurse in World War II; a depressed, retired Major League ballplayer who is contemplating a horrific act; the editor of the hometown weekly newspaper, still dealing with the tragic consequences of her long-ago teenage love affair; and the current owner, determined to stage an emotional last homecoming for the house and the people who loved it.
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~ Excerpt ~
“And so here we are together at the end of a long, long road,” Nettie began. “We are losing a house, to be sure, which is made up only of boards and lumber and plaster and shingles, after all. The real substance of this place is all the people, the events, the actual living of lives, that went on within these walls, under this roof. All those events, the significant and the trivial, have now become intertwined and enmeshed with our larger lives. They are threaded through our minds and our very being in a river of memories and emotions.
“This house has been a home for all of us, the place we retreat to for shelter from the storms of life, the place where much of our lives unfolded — sorrow and laughter, pain and comfort, winning and losing. This house is our connection with the past, with the people we loved; it helped make us, us. It is a monument, it is layers of history, a time capsule of our lives.
“This house is one of the many chapters in the book of our lives. It is a church, the temple of our lives, where we learned and practiced the religion of living. And as long as it was here it was like a safety net; we really could go home again, back to the comfort and safety of our childhood, reconnect with our past. But now we will have to relive those days only in our memories. And they cannot take those away from us. This house will live on as long as any of us are still alive to recall the glorious days we spent here. But, sadly, just as when a family member or friend dies, a part of us is dying now, too.
“It has been here for 90 years. Ninety years from now, when they tear down that bridge, will there be anybody who will say they think about that bridge every day, and all the beautiful memories it represents?”
~ About the Author ~
Dan Chabot, a former newspaper editor, writer and columnist, grew up in a small Upper Michigan town much like the one in this novel, his second. His first, Godspeed: A Love Story, poses an intriguing question: How can a lie be wrong when it makes so many people feel so good? Dan and his wife, Mary Ellen, live in Florida. They have three grown sons and six grandchildren.
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