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The Sleeping Night by Barbara Samuel

The Sleeping Night (edition 2012)

by Barbara Samuel

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5420218,071 (4.16)7
Title:The Sleeping Night
Authors:Barbara Samuel
Info:Bell Bridge Books (2012), Paperback, 268 pages
Collections:Your library (inactive)
Tags:ARC/ER; Racism; 1946, after the war in Gideon, Texas

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The Sleeping Night by Barbara Samuel




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Originally posted at Romance Around the Corner

I came across this book on NetGalley by mere chance. I was intrigued by the setting and the premise so I requested it. It wasn’t an easy book to read but the story was riveting and very romantic.

The Sleeping Night is set in Texas just after WWII but it goes back in time through the character’s memories and a series of letters that the hero and heroine exchanged during his time in the war.

Isaiah and Angel were best friends while growing up. Angel’s dad was a progressive man who didn’t mind setting up a store that sold goods to the black part of their small town. His quiet nature and his own experiences during WWI, made him open and close to the black men and women in town, Isaiah’s father in particular. So they grew up together and their connection ran deeper than that of a mere childhood friendship. But it’s an impossible relationship so he joins the military. It will take war, tragedy and love for them to reunite, explore what could be and maybe have a second chance.

I thought this book has a lovely romance and an honest, albeit painful, portrayal of the time period. It wasn’t easy to read, not only because of the violence and hatred endured by Isaiah and his family, but also because his memories of the war were terrible. The reason he comes back is because a woman in town writes to him asking if he can help her find her sister’s family. He finds the only survivor, a woman who barely survived the camps but whose entire family and friends, her fiancé included, were murdered. The whole time I kept thinking about all the people who actually lived through this.

The romance develops slowly. These are not your typical star-crossed lovers. Angel never puts a name to her feelings and she even marries one of their friends just after Isaiah goes to war, but her husband dies soon after. Isaiah, on the other hand, has always known how he felt about her. In fact, one of the many times the book made me cry was when he remembers being a kid and announcing that one day he was going to marry Angel, and how his parents were terrified by this and made him promise to never say such a thing again. They remained in touch through letters that kept them sane, but the last year he stopped writing and their relationship suffered from it. When the book starts, he’s only temporarily in town because after living in Europe he can’t go back to the way things are in the South. So starting a relationship with Angel is not in his plans.

Angel isn’t particularly interested in a relationship either, and she has bigger problems to deal with. Her father died and now she’s in charge of the store. But she’s a woman and it isn’t proper to have her own business, especially one that caters to blacks. One of the most powerful men in town is relentlessly pursuing her and won’t take no for an answer. Her house is falling down and money is short. But she also spends time with Isaiah and while they rekindle their friendship they realize that even though life and pain has changed them, they still love each other deeply.

Almost the whole book is about Isaiah and Angel coming to terms with their feelings, and just the last part is about how they actually manage to be together. It’s filled with brutality and sadness, but also hope. I honestly didn’t know if they were going to make it because things get ugly at the end (more like uglier). But this is a romance and the happy ending should be part of it, so I promise there’s one. The ending was the weakest part and the most fantastic. The type of luck they get can only be found in fiction. So I guess it’s a bittersweet ending because, once again, I think of all the people who lived through similar situations and didn’t get a happy ending.

My only complaint with the story is that it felt too preachy. God and Church play an important role in the lives of the main characters, and Isaiah, understandably, suffers a crisis of faith of which he recovers nicely. Angel is relentless in her love for God, and religion is an overall theme in the book -- at times subtle, at times in your face. It rubbed me the wrong way, but this is just my very personal take on it.

Overall it was a great story, it drags a bit in the middle and the ending was rushed and too perfect. But I really enjoyed it and I’m happy I read it. Absolutely recommended to everyone.

Source: we received an e-ARC of the book through NetGalley for review purposes. ( )
  Brie.Clementine | Mar 31, 2013 |
This review was written for LibraryThing Early Reviewers.
This book was the very compelling love between a black man and a white woman in post-World War II in the American South. He has come back from the war and finds that the friendship they had before the war has blossomed into love. A love that, if known, could get them killed. A very poignant story that kept me interested all the way through.
  amerri | Mar 19, 2013 |
This review was written for LibraryThing Early Reviewers.
I liked this book even though this wasn’t something I'd normally grab to read. It held my attention and made me interested in the characters. There's some back in forth with timeline, letters that have been written and the story, but they go together to enhance instead of distract the reader. Not something I've seen authors do very successfully in other books. If I’m browsing and see this author I’d be grabbing the book next time. ( )
  Nicholette | Feb 21, 2013 |
This review was written for LibraryThing Early Reviewers.
She is white. He is black, and they are best friends as children in a small segregated Texas town pre-World War II. He serves in the war and returns with adult feelings longing for validation and a way to claim their love without getting them killed. This is a compelling portrait of the old segregated South and the very personal often horrific struggle of individuals pre-civil rights movement. ( )
  cyncie | Jan 13, 2013 |
Barbara Samuel has crafted an emotionally wrenching and soul-stirring story with The Sleeping Night. The story begins in 2005 with a prelude to a war memorial dedication and an author reading in a rural Texas town. The reader is then whisked away to the same town in the 1930s and 1940s. Angel Corey is the white daughter of a store owner, a store owner that sells to the "coloreds" and lives on the wrong side of the color-line. Her mother died shortly after her birth so she is being raised by her father with somewhat unconventional ideas, such as the equality between whites and blacks. Isaiah High is just a few years older than Angel, but he is a black male being raised in an era of Jim Crow laws. As children, Angel and Isaiah play together, read together and even nap on laps together. As teenagers they are prohibited from playing together. As young adults they help one another remain sane during World War II through letters; Angel is now a war widow and Isaiah is a soldier in Europe. They both know that they cannot return to the level of friendship they had as children, but they also know that it has moved far beyond simple friendship into love.

Angel was allowed to be unconventional as long as her father was alive, but he died shortly before Isaiah returns to the States. Her sole remaining relative, a paternal aunt, expects her to fall in line with societal rules . . . sell the store, move into town and become more respectable. When Angel is pushed out of her church by the bigoted actions of the church governing body, she all but severs ties with the town of Gideon. Her only friends remain the High family, Mrs. Pierson (a family friend), and Mrs. Pierson's niece, Gudrun Stroo. Mrs. Pierson is a refugee from Poland and World War I and her niece is a refugee from Denmark and World War II. Both understand the notion of hatred without cause and try to provide a safe haven for both Angel and Isaiah as it becomes clear that they love one another.

The Sleeping Night isn't an easy read simply because of the topics presented: racism, bigotry, and hatred. However, it also presents some wonderful issues such as love, family and survival. The citizens of Gideon Texas were probably no different from those in other towns in the 1930s and 1940s. People were expected to adhere to certain societal and class rules with the pervasive notion that whites and blacks do not mix. The idea of an interracial couple, especially a black male and white female, was more than taboo; it was grounds for justifiable homicide against the male. Reading about the growing attraction between Angel and Isaiah during this time period provided a lot of tension, racial and otherwise. Ms. Samuel presents star-crossed lovers that hope for a life together that simply cannot be at that time and in that place. I was captured by the stories of Angel, Isaiah and the gentle (and not-so-gentle) townsfolk of Gideon Texas from the first chapter to the last, so much that I read it in one sitting. The Sleeping Night may make you cry or get angry at the injustices in the world but it will also make you smile, laugh and hope for a better tomorrow. ( )
  BookDivasReads | Jan 3, 2013 |
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There is only one person this book could possily be dedicated to, and that is Christopher Robin, aka Neal Barlow, who heard the story of a book I had stashed away, made me dig out the manuscript, paid to have it scanned (when such things were quite difficult), visited the British Imperial War museum and the beaches of Normandy with me, listened to a thousand conversations about al of it. Mainly, it is because he believed and wouldn't let me give up that this book is making its way out into the world. Thank you!
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On the morning that Angel Corey was arriving back in her home town of Gideon, Kim MCCoy buzzed around her bookstore like a mad woman.
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 161194127X, Paperback)

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 in Gideon, Texas, their undeniable love might get them both killed.

Barbara Samuel is a multiple award-winning author with more than 38 books to her credit in a variety of genres. Her work has captured a plethora of awards, including six RITAs; the Colorado Center for the Book Award (twice); Favorite Book of the Year from Romance Writers of America, and the Library Journal's list of Best Genre Fiction of the year, among many others.

Visit her at www.barbarasamuel.com.

(retrieved from Amazon Mon, 30 Sep 2013 13:57:10 -0400)

"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 in Gideon, Texas, their undeniable love might get them both killed" --P. [4] of cover.… (more)

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