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February 2011

Genre City Review: The Homecoming

Title: The Homecoming
Author: Dan Walsh
Publisher: Revell
Genre: Historical fiction
Date: June 2010
ISBN: 978-0800733896
Reviewed by: Lisa J. Lickel

I appreciate Walsh’s insistence that his characters remain obedient to duty … We walk away too often in our society.

Dan Walsh’s second novel about life during World War II is captivating. Walsh’s character, Major Shawn Collins, a reluctant war hero, is truly a dedicated family man. How else could anyone fully grieve the loss of a spouse in just six weeks? And then arrange life at home before again leaving for duty, practically incommunicado, or life without cell phones, as we would call it. Shawn’s young son, Patrick, proves to be the faithful little man, maturely dealing with both the loss of his mother and the absence of his father, and life with a reluctant grandfather. Patrick is the one who knows what to pray for, and he receives blessing upon blessing when a caring social worker, Katherine Townsend, becomes a full-time nanny during his father’s army assignment.

Shawn models exemplary character to his son and father, and honors the memory of his wife. When he recalls his conversations with Elizabeth, which dealt mostly with what she should do if he didn’t make it back from the war, he eventually comes to grips with her accidental death and takes the advice he had given her about learning to live without him. I appreciate Walsh’s insistence that his characters remain obedient to duty, especially when it would be so easy for the Major to simply walk away from his career. We walk away too often in our society, and are the poorer for it.

Walsh’s settings are well established and painstakingly researched to remain true to the era. He does a great job letting the reader experience the depth of fear of the London bombing in contrast with the same era in the United States. Readers of World War II-era historical novels will enjoy this slice of life portrayal of an unsettling time. The Homecoming is a satisfying read.

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