Home Fires Burning

Reprint Edition Copyright 1998 by Robert Inman

Published by Little Brown & Co.

ISBN 0316418145

Read the First Chapter

The black horse was first to know. It came to him across the frost of the open field, the smell of unfamiliar men. The horse nudged the air and the sinews of his neck ridged like steel cables. Read more

In this remarkable debut, Robert Inman has written a deeply felt novel that evokes the nostalgia and lost innocence of a vanished world. Set in a small southern town during World War II, this is the story of one community poised on the precipice of change that will alter the lives of its inhabitants forever. Jake Tibbetts, editor of the town newspaper like his father and grandfather before him, reflects the newspaper's role as the voice and conscience of the community with a code of conduct based on honor, duty, and the responsibility to take hold of one's life and "shake it for all it's worth." But World War II has shaken the very bedrock of the lives of everyone in town. Now, desperate to find meaning in a world he thought he once understood, Jake struggles to find new accommodations with the people in his life:

  • Lonnie, his precocious grandson, who gamely and doggedly is working at growing up;
  • Henry, Jake's estranged alcoholic son, lost somewhere on the battlefields of Europe;
  • Pastine, Jake's wife, who erupts in fury at Jake's stubbornness;
  • Jake's oldest friend, Rosh Benefield, whose loyalty is nearly severed by Jake's thoughtlessness;
  • Lightnin' Jim, the black bootlegger, whose contempt for white folks is matched by the fortune he's made off of them;
  • The town itself, with which Jake rashly starts his own war.

In the tradition of Winesburg, Ohio and Our Town, Home Fires Burning is a profound evocation of small-town American life that will haunt readers with the voices and echoes of our past.

"A thoroughly absorbing novel....Jake Tibbetts is not easily forgotten, and neither is the vividly rendered small-town world he inhabits." -Lucas Carpenter, Newsday

"Home Fires Burning has vitality and color in its evocation of a small Southern town....Mr. Inman grips our attention and makes us glad to accept the final affirmations of life." -Edmund Fuller, Wall Street Journal

"A good story beautifully told, with serious thought behind it....It's a pleasure to come across a book like Home Fires Burning." -Josephine Humphreys