Wednesday, May 30, 2012

The Sleeping Night (by Barbara Samuel)

The Sleeping Night rating:  5 out of 5 stars 
Release Date:  June 2012

How are the sex scenes?
Meaningful.  A few leading up to scenes and some implied,
but nothing that would embarrass you at the next book club meeting. 
(Yes, you should definitely be discussing this book.)

How are the story lines?
Romantic and beautiful with heart wrenching realism about southern life during the 1940s.

Would you read it again?
Yes.  Great literature should always be read again.

The Sleeping Night tells the story of Angel Corey, a white daughter left alone after the sudden passing of her father, and Isiah High, a black solider returned home after fighting during World War II.  Angel and Isiah's childhood friendship mirrored their fathers', despite the racial inequalities gripping the South and small town Gideon, Texas.  Angel and Isiah were separated as teenagers, an act meant to protect them from public rebuke, and as adults Isiah joined the army, thus saving him from the racist-fueled death suffered by his father.  Isiah returns to Gideon after the war with every intention of keeping his distance from Angel, whom he had secretly corresponded with while deployed.  Unable to watch Angel's struggle for survival, Isiah offers his help and a begrudging friendship grows. 

This story is a beautiful telling of forbidden romance. 

Angel is a stubborn, resilient character, quickly gaining the reader's respect (and in my case, awe) with her strong will and work ethic.  This woman is not your damsel in distress and only relies on herself and God to change her circumstance.

Isiah is a courageous and intelligent man, accepting the things he cannot win and finding ways to help Angel despite the limitations put to him by the color of his skin.  Well read, world traveled and utterly devoted, he is a practical hero, one every girl might be lucky enough to bring home to momma.  Even with Angel's superwoman toughness, Isiah's bravery refuses to be overshadowed.  He uses it, proving his love to Angel over and over again.

The supporting characters have great personalities and back stories of their own.  When their names are mentioned, you immediately recall their life, purpose and relevance to the story.

This novel is further enhanced by Angel and Isiah's letters exchanged during the war and its accurate 1940s setting, giving a realistic view of what life was like for African Americans and people who befriended them.

The Sleeping Night is a refined, romantic tale.  I imagine if Jane Austen wrote novels today, her stories would read a lot like Barbara Samuel's. 

I would love to discuss this book with readers.  Leave a comment here, find me on Facebook or let me know when your group has added it to your list. 

Learn more about Barbara Samuel (or her other pen names Barbara O'Neal and Ruth Wind) on her websites:

The Sleeping Night is not part of a series, but you can read more Barbara Samuel novels based in Gideon, Texas:

Disclaimer: No compensation was received for this review. eARC courtesty of NetGalley.

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