When Silence Sings

When Silence Sings

by Sarah Loudin Thomas

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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 birthmark 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.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781493420230
Publisher: Baker Publishing Group
Publication date: 11/05/2019
Sold by: Barnes & Noble
Format: NOOK Book
Pages: 352
Sales rank: 560,048
File size: 6 MB

About the Author

Sarah Loudin Thomas is a fund-raiser for a children's ministry who has also written for Mountain Homes Southern Style and Now & Then magazines, as well as the Asheville Citizen-Times. She is the author of Miracle in a Dry Season, Until the Harvest, A Tapestry of Secrets, and The Sound of Rain. She holds a BA in English from Coastal Carolina University. She and her husband reside in Asheville, North Carolina. She can be found online at www.sarahloudinthomas.com.
Sarah Loudin Thomas (www.sarahloudinthomas.com) is a fund-raiser for a children's ministry who has time to write because she doesn't have children of her own. She holds a bachelor's degree in English from Coastal Carolina University and is the author of the acclaimed novels The Sound of Rain and Miracle in a Dry Season--winner of the 2015 Inspy Award. Sarah has also been a finalist for the ACFW Carol Award and the Christian Book of the Year Award. She and her husband live near Asheville, NC.

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When Silence Sings: A Novel 4.8 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 10 reviews.
Kelly Hodgkins 7 days ago
“Colman walked along the last car of the coal train, tapping each wheel with his long-handled hammer, listening intently to the clang clang clang. He cocked his head to the left and closed his right eye so he could hear better. The tone was just about perfect. Good—no cracks.” -Opening lines of When Silence Sings by Sarah Loudin Thomas Sarah Loudin Thomas’ When Silence Sings is a novel which is hard to fit into a category. It is set in 1930 in West Virginia with two families stuck in a feud. At the opening, another murder has occurred. The death is that of Colman’s cousin and it prompts him to reconsider the origins and point of the feud. He feels prompted by God to preach to his family’s enemy, Serepta. He tries to avoid the calling but life circumstances lands him in the midst of Serepta’s territory. Serepta is a fascinating character with a past that has traumatised her and her business is experiencing problems. The person she most trusts is a black man, Charlie, making their relationship dangerous and they have to keep it hidden. To these two, a third character, Ivy, is added. She has been an outcast for most of her life and yet is full of positivity and hope. She helps doctor those who cross her path and, when she finds Colman in need, helps his recovery. Her home and care become the crossroads for the story as she connects Colman and Serepta. The storyline is a study in forgiveness. In working through the fallout of the feud, Sarah explores empathizing with “the enemy”. She examines the place of vengeance for those who believe in Christ and she highlights the power of love and hope. There is mystery, romance and drama throughout the novel but it appears in surprising ways. Full of rich descriptions and insightful phrases, this is one to chew over rather than rush through. There are several scenes of racial abuse and violence which I found distressing in an otherwise interesting story, so be forewarned. It’s a four out of five on the en-JOY-ment scale.
Librarycataloger 16 days ago
I am so in love with this book and it is now a part of my favorite book list. Sarah Loudin Thomas has completely captured the culture of Appalachia and much of what she mentions is native to my area of Kentucky. Blackberry Winter; the odor and taste of milk when cows have eaten in a pasture field filled with spring onions; a meal with cornbread and greens, followed by spreading apple butter on that cornbread for dessert. So familiar to many of us but so foreign to those who have grown up elsewhere. I also love the deadly family feud depicted between the Harpe and the McLean families because I have grown up with the legendary feud between the Kentucky Hatfields and the West Virginia McCoys. What is most appealing to me, however, is Colman Harpe's desire to become a preacher but wanting to do it on his own terms. How could God expect him to preach to the people who have been enemies of his family for generations, especially Serepta McLean, the meanest and most powerful woman around their area of West Virginia? But that is what God wants him to do and Colman's reluctance parallels the biblical Jonah's efforts to avoid going to Ninevah. When he finally realizes that he MUST heed God's call, his first chance to minister is with a group of McLean women that he encounters as they mend their clothing while sitting under a circle of dogwood trees. At a loss of what to say, Colman tells them about the legend of the dogwood tree and its role in Jesus Christ's crucifixion. As they sit mesmerized by his story, he realizes that the best way to reach the McLean family might not be through traditonal preaching. Maybe, Colman thought, he could use stories and illustrations to share God's message. After all, isn't that what Jesus did through his parables? Thomas has created so many fascinating characters. Colman Harpe; Ivy Gordon, the young woman who is feared because of her lack of skin pigmentation but gifted with amazing medical skills; Charlie, Serepta McLean's black houseman who understands her like no one else; and Emmaline, the little girl who changes the lives of so many people. It is, however, Serepta who stole my heart. No, she isn't a good person or a model citizen but she is the person that I would like to see in another story. I believe that her ability to serve God could be as powerful as her ability to bootleg illegal liquor and run an empire! There is a suggested romantic connection between Colman and Ivy but When Silence Sings isn't your usual love story. It is instead a tale filled with the many different emotions that influence our lives and God's amazing ability to turn hatred and pride into acceptance and understanding. Sarah Loudin Thomas has created a wonderful story and I recommend When Silence Sings to all who enjoy Christian fiction and family drama. I received a copy of this book from the author and Bethany House but a positive review was not required. These are my honest opinions.
Gloria_Moseley 19 days ago
"When Silence Sings" by Sarah Laudin Thomas takes the reader back to a time when the mountains, and the people who lived there were far less tame. The story is set in the midst of a feud between the Harpe family and the McLeans in the mountains of West Virginia. Among decades of hate and distrust, Coleman Harpe is forced to choose between two callings. The calling of God to preach to the McLeans; and the calling of man to join the feud and avenge the death of his cousin. Coleman runs away, but finds himself in terrible shape in the middle of McLean territory. The story is a reminder of how our worst decisions can still put us right where we need to be to fulfill our calling. I received a complimentary copy of this book through NetGalley and was not required to write a favorable review. All opinions are my own.
Phyllis_H 21 days ago
An incredible story! Have you ever looked at pictures from the Great Depression era? You know that feeling, that sense of melancholy you get? Almost a stillness, a solemn view of life, and a sense of resignation with just a tinge of hope. Sarah Loudin Thomas takes these same emotions and turns them into prose in a poignant manner in When Silence Sings. This amazing story pulled me right into the mountains of West Virginia amid a feud that started a century earlier. Where folks lived in conditions we would be appalled at and yet thought nothing of it. Where poverty was so much a part of life it wasn’t even a thing. The speech of the characters and the narration were rich with the idiosyncrasies and colorful flavor of Appalachian families without feeling overdone. The conflict between the McLeans and the Harpes was so ingrained into the fabric of the characters, even Colman, who desired to be a preacher and knew the Word of God well, didn’t find it strange or wrong for the feud to exist. He despised and feared the McLeans. In fact, I was set to not like him much when I first observed his thoughts and actions. Then I realized that this was a retelling of the story of Jonah. All of a sudden, my entire perspective changed and I saw how masterfully the author communicated the type of reluctance Jonah would have felt when told to go preach to the sworn enemy of his people! Perhaps it is my love of stories; nevertheless, I was captivated by the way Colman preached. Not by creating deep treatises on theological teachings but through the simple stories of the Bible, made more relevant and real to his audience. In a community where education was rare, there wasn’t a much better way to reach their hearts! I was intrigued by the way the issues of prejudice were brought into the story. Not only was there the prejudice of the families towards each other and prejudice against a man of African-American descent, one of the characters lacked pigmentation in her skin and was feared by the people for that. While there is a hint of romance, this is not a romantic story. It deals with deep heart matters such as hatred, unforgiveness, and pride. And shows the power of God to transform hearts and minds. The ending is satisfying but does not neatly wrap up all the loose ends, much like real life. This is my first full-length novel by Sarah Loudin Thomas and I hope it is not the last! She is now on the list of authors I really enjoy! Read my review of When Silence Sings by Sarah Loudin Thomas at AmongTheReads.net I was given a copy of this book. I was not required to give a favorable review nor was any money received for this review. All comments and opinions are my own.
Sheliass 22 days ago
This story has so many complex characters and layers, that I already want to read it again to see what I missed. You know the author is skilled when you start feeling sympathy for all the villains. And what a conundrum for Coleman, with dreams to be a preacher, to be asked to tell McCleans, his family's feuding rivals, about God. I loved reading his modifications of Bible stories to fit the people of Appalachia. Oh, what a tangled web of deceit the Harpes and the McCleans weave throughout the story. There's romance, suspense, a mystery, deceit, redemption, and a second chance for hope. LOVED IT!
LucyMR1 3 months ago
Beautiful words that warm your heart and make you fall in love with these wonderful characters. You will feel empathy for Serepta , sympathy for Coleman, and love Ivy. This story will weave around your heart and pull you into the hills of WV, where clans feud and traditions are followed. Ms. Thomas has hit the nail on the head with this one with her impeccable research and insight into these peoples. Having family from the areas she writes about I can say she paints a word picture that is accurate in her descriptive prose. The hope and inspiring storyline will draw you in from page one and keep you engrossed until the end. Recommended reading for your must buy list. I received a complimentary copy from the author/publisher. The honest review and opinions are my own and were not required.
AE2 3 months ago
The Harpes and the McLeans have been feuding for generations, so it's no surprise to Colman Harpe that when his cousin is killed by a McLean, the Harpes want vengeance. Colman, an aspiring preacher, tries to remind himself that vengeance is the Lord's and stay out of things, but then he receives an unexpected call from the Lord--to preach to the McLeans. Not sure how to carry out that call, and even sure he wants to, he heads out on a fishing trip instead, only to be stranded in a storm and lost in mountain caves until he emerges in the McLeans' territory, cared for by Ivy, an outsider who encourages him to answer his call to preach to the McLeans. Serepta McLean, the matriarch of the McLean clan, has worked too hard to gain control of and prosper the family businesses to let anything get in her way. Neither of her two sons quite seems up to scratch to be the next leader of their empire--the elder is too sloppy and the younger too eager to make changes Serepta doesn't approve of. While she needs to tend to business and bringing at least one of her sons up to scratch, when a terrible accident leaves a young girl orphaned, Serepta impulsively takes her in and soon finds that the little girl changes her life way more than she anticipated. Wow! This book was incredibly well written. I don't know anything about West Virginia in 1930, and yet, Sarah Loudin Thomas brought it to life in such a way that it felt totally familiar to me. I was quickly immersed in the setting as well as the plot. From the get-go, Colman, with his Jonah-like story, just tugged at my heart; I think a lot of readers can relate to feeling like there's something God wants us to do but don't have any idea how to actually do it. I thought that was totally relatable, as was how he felt caught between his family and his own desires for life. Ivy and her uncle, who care for him, were totally endearing as well. As for Serepta, she was a fascinating character, one who does things that are definitely questionable but who also does good things. She, along with other characters, definitely make for an interesting discussion topic, like what makes someone good or evil, if anyone is past redemption, etc. There's just so much to like about this book--and there's tons to talk about, which makes it a great choice for book clubs. Highly recommend--I'm picking this as one of the best books of 2019! I read an ARC provided by the publisher via #NetGalley. All opinions are my own.
3C 3 months ago
"That's the thing about want. It's got nothin' to do with have to." When Silence Sings is a beautifully written, complex, and thoughtful historical set in West Virginia in 1930. This is not a light formula tale of a typical hero and heroine overcoming obstacles and then living happily ever after. Instead, as the stage is gradually set, we are introduced to a number of characters whose importance and impact become known as story layers are eventually and, sometimes, surprisingly peeled away - Colman Harpe, Ivy Gordon, Serepta McLean, Jake McLean, Charlie, and Uncle Webb, among others. What might have typically been considered secondary - characters and locations - are equally important in this novel. Without revealing plot elements, I found myself reassessing my thoughts on certain characters and events as the story unfolded, and, even now, I am still reflecting on the truths and lessons learned. An interesting example is found with aspiring preacher Colman Harpe, a multifaceted character trying to bridge the feud, who seemed to struggle with the feeling he was a Bible "storyteller" rather than a classic sermonizer. I also thought the author excelled in her presentation of Serapta McLean - a character who evoked very strong feelings. Sarah Loudin Thomas paints a picture with words - the smells, tastes, and sounds, plus her use of old time metaphors and slang really bring the tale alive to all senses. Compassion, dismay, suspicion, mistrust, and faithfulness are among the wide array of emotions one might experience reading this story. I received a complimentary copy of this book from the publisher, through NetGalley. Opinions expressed in this review are completely my own.
SusanSnodgrassBookworm 3 months ago
'I'd rather look for the best. The worst usually makes itself known soon enough.' West Virginia. 1930. Two families, the McLeans and the Harpes, feuding with each other for generations, find things are coming to a head quickly after a McLean guns down a Harpe in cold blood and runs off. Colman Harpe promised his mother he'd not get involved with the feud and so far he's managed to keep his promise. Colman has felt the call to preach and then he hears God call him to preach to his sworn enemy, and the head of the clan, in particular. Serepta McKlean is a strong, unbending woman and it's her son who did the killing. Will she listen to the words from God Colman brings? There are many, many secrets that stand to be revealed if she listens. This book was fascinating. Told in Thomas's unique style, in the backwoods and hollers of West Virginia, the reader gets a glimpse of a life that is no longer. Her way with words is special indeed and the cadence of her descriptions is perfect! I was entranced the entire time I was reading. The spiritual element here is good, too: sometimes everything that looks bad is not always bad and God can bring about His work no matter what our eyes see. Highly recommended. Bravo! *My thanks to Bethany House Publishers for a copy of this book via Net Galley. The opinions stated here are entirely my own.
Christianfictionandmore 3 months ago
It took me a few chapters to get drawn into this story, but once I was it was so worth it. When Silence Sings has quite an original storyline, sort of a Jonah meets the Hatfields and McCoys. I love the way Thomas takes Bible stories and sets them in the early 1930s West Virginia, making them relatable to the mountain folk and to her readers as well. The character development in this story is very well done. A sequel continuing the story of Colman Harpe and Ivy Gordon would be very well received. Readers will close this book with visions of where their story might lead. I highly recommend When Silence Sings and am grateful to have received a copy from Bethany House via NetGalley in exchange for my honest opinion. I was under no obligation to provide a positive review and received no monetary compensation.