Book review: The Sleeping Night by Barbara Samuelon July 13th, 2012 at 10:59 am
A beautiful, passionate, thought-provoking story about forbidden love; this book will be going on my ‘favourite romances’ shelf.
From the blurb:
An unforgettable romance in an unforgiving time. They’ll need love and courage to see the dawn. He’s a hometown native, returning from the war, determined to change the world he’d fought to protect. She’s the girl who’s been his secret friend since childhood, now a beautiful woman. Her war-time letters kept him alive. But he’s black, and she’s white. In 1946 Gideon, Texas, their undeniable love might get them both killed.
From the outset, I was drawn into the story by the compelling characters – courageous Angel, a lone white woman fighting to keep her independence after her father’s death, and Isaisah, her childhood friend who has seen too much in Europe during the war and can no longer tolerate the racism of the South. I found myself increasingly anxious as I read, seeing their love unfold in such a hostile environment – hoping so much they could find their way to each other but, knowing the reality of the setting and the historical era in which the book is set, fearing the only possible outcome could be tragedy.
Barbara is such a talented writer, conjuring up vivid mental pictures through her imagery that transported me to 1940s Texas and plunged me into the scenes. Here’s an example: ‘Isaiah sank down next to her. Bony knees stuck out from below his cut-off pants. His ankles were streaked, his shoes muddy, and he smelled like sunshine and dust and river water.’ I love that so much of the book has an authentic Southern feel in terms of tone and phrasing; and I really enjoyed the interweaving of letters sent during the war, which blend in a feel for war-time England and the two protagonists’ differing experiences of war.
In her dedication at the start of the book, Barbara mentions that this novel was ‘stashed away’, and it only saw the light of day thanks to an encouraging friend. Well, I am so very glad that Barbara did believe in the book enough to publish the book, because it was a true pleasure reading it, and I know that the touching story of Angel and Isaisah will remain in my imagination for years to come.
The Sleeping Night is available now from Amazon; click on the book cover below to visit the store.