Welcome to the ninth month of the Unlocking the Past 2021 Reading Challenge. This month focused on the the 1920’s to 1930’s. Due to family caregiving needs this month, I got lots of helf from Staci this month, and she read When Silence Sings by Sarah Loudin Thomas. Once you read her review, don’t forget to comment to be entered for your chance to win a copy.
When Silence Sings by Sarah Loudin Thomas
This month’s review comes from fellow reading challenge participant, Staci (Goodreads link here) who also runs a Facebook group you might want to check out called Christian Fiction Devourers. Thank you so much, Staci, for making a difficult month easier.
Colman Harpe works for the C&O in the Appalachian rail town of Thurmond, West Virginia, but he’d rather be a preacher and lead his own congregation. When a member of the rival McLean clan guns down his cousin and the clan matriarch, Serepta McLean, taunts the Harpes by coming to a tent revival in their territory, Colman chooses peace over seeking revenge with the rest of his family.
Colman, known for an unnaturally keen sense of hearing, is shocked when he hears God tell him to preach to the McLeans. A failed attempt to run away leaves Colman sick and suffering in the last place he wanted to be–McLean territory. Nursed by herbalist Ivy Gordon–a woman whose unusual appearance has made her an outcast–he’s hindered in his calling by Serepta’s iron grip on the region and his uncle’s desire to break that grip. But appearances can be deceiving, and he soon learns that the face of evil doesn’t look like he expected.
West Virginia 1930
A beautifully written novel set in small Appalachian towns. There are multiple focuses in the novel and they weave together seamlessly to create a symphony of words.
When Silence Sings is partially about a feud between two families, Harpes and McLeans, dating back to 1832. As an example of the sentiment of everyday residents…when one man quotes Romans 12:19: “For it is written, vengeance is mine; I will repay, saith the Lord” is quoted, a second man responds “And this right here (waving hand) is the hand of God”. The feud and being on one side or the other was a way of life.
Colman Harpe didn’t fit this mold. Although he works for the railroad, his life’s ambition is to be a preacher. When he hears a word from God to spread the love of Christ to the McLean family, Colman believes he must have heard that wrong.
“He knew it was a command but couldn’t think why God would send him on such a fool’s errand.”
Think Jonah. Colman goes a different direction, but God continues to work on his heart and mind.
Meanwhile the head of the McLean family, Serepta, leads her businesses and sons with a cold heart and iron will. There are glimpses of kindness and softness, but these are rare.
Colman has his work cut out for him. Along his journey, Colman builds up his faith and learns a lot about himself, God and humanity.
The pages include several charming phrases from the region such as “You turn up as regular as a hungry hound dog”. The characters are well written and there were a couple of surprises. I would have loved to know a bit more about what happened to one individual, but can see the author’s point of view in leaving that to the reader’s imagination. Some of the actions of the two brothers didn’t fully align to what I envisioned.
Overall, it’s a delightful novel.
The author’s note at the end was charming and informative. This novel is highly recommended for fans of historical fiction.
Leave a comment below with what you read for this month’s challenge and/or enter the Rafflecopter giveaway for more entries. Entries close October 7th at midnight EST. Drawing will be randomly held on October 8th. The winner will be notified by email, listed on the winner’s section of the Reading Challenge page, and listed here. Open to those legally able. International winners will receive an Amazon gift card for $10 if the book is not available to ship. to you via Book Depository.