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The Lilies of the Field (1962)

by William E. Barrett

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6991525,571 (3.92)37
A young black man stops to help a group of nuns and ends up building a church.

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Homer Smith is a black man in the early 1960s, living a nomadic life out of his station wagon, working when he finds work, and then moving on. Traveling the Southwest, he encounters five German nuns, who have moved to America, and plan to build a chapel and a home for wayward boys. The Mother superior among the nuns immediately announces that God has sent "Schmidt" to build their chapel. Homer is deeply offended by the Mother's assumption that he will just do whatever she wants, and without pay even. But he is simultaneously moved and fascinated by the nun's unquestioning faith in both God, and himself. And so he does set out to single-handedly build their chapel.
A beautiful, short tale about faith in God and man, doing the right thing, and learning from the people around you.
As good as this little book is, I found it one of those rare instances when a movie version was even better than the book. ( )
  fingerpost | Jul 18, 2020 |
I love the movie with Sidney Poitier, and of course it was running through my head all the time I was reading this book. But Barrett's Homer Smith is not the one played by Sidney Portier. I think I like Barrett's better. And the book ending is very satisfying. I won't stop watching the movie, but the book is a real treasure.

If the final words had not already been in CK I would have added them. ( )
  MarthaJeanne | Nov 22, 2018 |
5582. the lilies of the field, by William E. Barrett (read 17 Sep 2018) This 1962 novel is only 92 pages but is a sweet story which I found strangely poignant. It tells of a black man who after service in he Army is roaming the country and somehow comes upon a group of five Geman sisters who are running a farm and hoping to establish a home for wayward boys in a community mostly populated by Spanish speaking people. The sisters somehow get him to build a simple church for them. The story I suppose is improbable but is simply told and moving and one has a good feeling at the end of the story, even though the church builder resumes his wandering. I know I saw the movie, starring Sidney Poitior, I suppose 50 years ago but I had forgotten the story line but reading the book brought it back to me. ( )
2 vote Schmerguls | Sep 17, 2018 |
Short and sweet, but such a powerful story. ( )
  amyghilton | May 11, 2018 |
Just a short, simple book about a man who stops to help some German nuns, in the American southwest (maybe in the 1950's or 60's?) and stays to build a chapel for them. They feel that God has sent him to do this. He disagrees. He says he's not here to stay, he's a Baptist, and he has no idea how to do this by himself and has no materials -- yet he does it! He just keeps feeling compelled to stay and do a little more, he enjoys getting to know the nuns and helping them learn English. He becomes a legend, after he leaves, as the man who Mother Maria Marthe has prayed for to build their church. It is a very inspirational story. I enjoyed it a lot! Sidney Poitier plays the main character in the 1963 movie. I can see that he would do a very good job portraying this man. ( )
  TerriS | Apr 24, 2017 |
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Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
William E. Barrettprimary authorall editionscalculated
Silverman, BurtIllustratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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For My Godfather David J. Groden
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There is a young legend developing on the west side of the mountains.
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(Click to show. Warning: May contain spoilers.)
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A young black man stops to help a group of nuns and ends up building a church.

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Homer Smith, a black ex-GI, was a carefree man living the life of the open road - until he met a group of German nuns with a dream...
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