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Dan Chabot
The Last Homecoming
Dan Chabot, author

Adult; General Fiction (including literary and historical); (Market)

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 its final reward…

This 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 love it... 

A generation-spanning homecoming is at the heart of this captivating novel from Chabot (Godspeed: A Love Story). More than just a venerable landmark in Haviland, Mich., the grand old house at 401 Barnhill Road has been the cherished home of four families over the course of the last 90 years. With the house set to be demolished soon to make way for a new highway and bridge, the home’s current owner, Nettie Tannehill, sends out invitations to the surviving members of the other three families for a final Christmas Eve homecoming. On Christmas Eve, newspaper owner Willow Summerhaven, former baseball player Nick MacAlinden, and 90-year-old Sister Theresa Renwick—all troubled by pressing financial woes—reunite one last time in the house that had once provided them with shelter and security, little realizing that the answer to their problems lies within the house’s walls and under its floorboards. Although Chabot lovingly depicts a Rockwell-esque image of small town Americana, his memorable characters are shaped by less rosy issues like alcoholism and suicide. Though the pacing is a little slow, the detailed prose and dynamics between the characters makes this a worthy, inspiring novel. (BookLife)