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Homecoming

Cover of Homecoming

Homecoming

With unerring insight and emotional power, Belva Plain, in her extraordinary novel, tells the story of a family divided and of the proud matriarch who takes a bold last stand to unite her warring children in what may be their last Homecoming.

It is a crisp December day when Annette Byrne walks to the end of her long, curving driveway and drops five sealed envelopes into the mailbox, quickly, before second thoughts stay her hand. Shortly thereafter, with the holidays approaching, her estranged family will be gathered at her country estate for the first time in years.

The sons. . . two brothers embittered by a breach of ethics, honor, and trust. The grandchildren. . . one young couple on the verge of divorce; another, lovingly united against the parents who have tarnished their lives. As the ill-fated meeting hurtles toward a bitter and abrupt conclusion, not even Annette Byrne's indomitable will can heal the rift--until a shattering event alters the landscape forever.


From the Paperback edition.

With unerring insight and emotional power, Belva Plain, in her extraordinary novel, tells the story of a family divided and of the proud matriarch who takes a bold last stand to unite her warring children in what may be their last Homecoming.

It is a crisp December day when Annette Byrne walks to the end of her long, curving driveway and drops five sealed envelopes into the mailbox, quickly, before second thoughts stay her hand. Shortly thereafter, with the holidays approaching, her estranged family will be gathered at her country estate for the first time in years.

The sons. . . two brothers embittered by a breach of ethics, honor, and trust. The grandchildren. . . one young couple on the verge of divorce; another, lovingly united against the parents who have tarnished their lives. As the ill-fated meeting hurtles toward a bitter and abrupt conclusion, not even Annette Byrne's indomitable will can heal the rift--until a shattering event alters the landscape forever.


From the Paperback edition.

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    The desktop was always covered with mail, incoming and outgoing. Appeals from charities, politicians, whether federal, state, or town, bills and letters from scattered friends, all came flowing. Sometimes it seemed to Annette that the whole world made connection with her here and asked for response.

    She picked up the pen to finish the last of the notes. Her precise backhand script lay between wide margins, the paper was as smooth as pressed linen, and the dark blue monogram was decorative without possessing too many curlicues. The whole, even to the back of the envelope, on which her name was engraved—Mrs. Lewis Martinson Byrne, with her address beneath—was pleasing. E-mail might be the way these days, but there was still nothing as satisfying to send or to receive as a well-written letter; also these days, "Ms." might be the title of choice for many, but Annette still preferred to be "Mrs.," and that was that.

    Having sealed the envelope, she placed it on top of the tidy pile of blue-and-whites, sighed, "There—that's finished," and stood up to stretch. At eighty-five, even though your doctor said that you were physically ten years younger, you could expect to feel stiff after sitting so long. Actually, you could expect almost anything, she thought, knowing how to laugh at herself.

    Old people were amusing to the young. Once when she was less than ten years old, her mother had taken her to call on a woman who lived down the country road. It seemed, as most things did now, like yesterday.

    "She's very old, at least ninety, Annette. She was a married woman with children when Lincoln was president."

    That had meant nothing to Annette.

    "My nephew took me out in his machine," the old woman had said. "We went all the way without a horse." Marveling, she had repeated, "Without a horse."

    That had seemed ridiculous to Annette.

    "So now it's my turn," she said aloud. "And yet, inside, I don't feel any different from the way I felt when I was twenty." She laughed again. "I only look different."

    There she was between the windows, framed in gilt, eternally blond and thirty years old, in a red velvet dress. Lewis had wanted to display her prominently in the living room, rather than here in the more private library. But she had objected: portraits were intimate things, not to be shown off before the world.

    Facing her and framed in matching gilt on the opposite wall was Lewis himself, wearing the same expression he had worn in life, alert, friendly, and faintly curious. Often, when she was alone here, she spoke to him.

    "Lewis, you would have been amused at what I saw today" (or saddened, or angry). "Lewis, what do you think about it? Do you agree?"

    He had been dead ten years, yet his presence was still in the house. It was the reason, or the chief one, anyway, why she had never moved.

    It had been a lively house, filled with the sounds of children, friends, and music, and it was lively still. Scouts had meetings in the converted barn, and nature-study classes were invited. Once the place had been a farm, and after that a country estate, one of the less lavish ones in a spacious landscape some two or three hours' drive from New York. They had bought it as soon as their growing prosperity had allowed. The grounds, hill, pond, and meadow were treasures and had already been promised after Annette's death to the town, to be kept as a green park forever. That had been Lewis's idea; caring so much about plants and trees, he had built the greenhouse onto the kitchen wing; all their Christmas trees had been live, and now, when you looked beyond the meadow,...
About the Author-
  • Belva Plain captured readers' hearts with her first novel, Evergreen, which Delacorte published more than 30 years ago. It topped the New York Times best-seller list for 41 weeks and aired as an NBC-TV miniseries. In total, more than 20 of her books have been New York Times best sellers.

    Before becoming a novelist, Belva Plain wrote short stories for many major magazines, but taking care of a husband and three children did not give her the time to concentrate on the novel she had always wanted to write. When she looked back and said she didn't have the time, she felt as though she had been making excuses. In retrospect, she said, "I didn't make the time." But, she reminded us, during the era that she was raising her family, women were supposed to concentrate only on their children. Today 30 million copies of her books are in print.

    A Barnard College graduate who majored in history, Belva Plain enjoyed a wonderful marriage of more than 40 years to Irving Plain, an ophthalmologist. Widowed for more than 25 years, Ms. Plain continued to reside in New Jersey, where she and her husband had raised their family and which was still home to her nearby children and grandchildren until her death in October 2010.


Reviews-
  • AudioFile Magazine Listeners may need a few minutes to get past Bradshaw's pronounced twang. Once over this hurdle, one is captivated by his mission to heal the early hurts of wounded adults. He accomplishes this with a delivery that is genuine, sincere and confidence-building; his delivery varies from personal and comforting to expansive and comic. He provides moments for private meditation, as well as the feeling of a shared group experience. Except for one instance when a hokey angelic chorus enters, the choice of music is pleasant and unobtrusive. E.F.A. (c)AudioFile, Portland, Maine
  • Library Journal

    "Uplifting."

  • San Francisco Chronicle "Belva Plain writes with authority and integrity."
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    Penguin Random House Audio Publishing Group
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