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Stand the Storm: A Novel

3.34  ·  Rating Details  ·  357 Ratings  ·  80 Reviews
Even though Sewing Annie Coats and her son, Gabriel, have managed to buy their freedom, their lives are still marked by constant struggle and sacrifice. Washington's Georgetown neighborhood, where the Coatses operate a tailor's shop and laundry, is supposed to be a "promised land" for former slaves, but it is effectively a frontier town, gritty and dangerous, with no laws ...more
Audio CD, 0 pages
Published November 3rd 2008 by Tantor Media (first published January 1st 2008)
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Mocha Girl
Oct 11, 2009 Mocha Girl rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Breena Clarke's Stand the Storm centers on the story of "Sewing Annie" Coats and her son, Gabriel, expert tailors who manage to purchase their freedom at the cost of entering a less than lucrative business arrangement with their former owner. Nonetheless, hard work and thriftiness allow them to purchase Ellen (Annie's equally talented daughter) and her daughter, Delia. Prosperity reigns but the clan is happy for only a short while. The threat of re-enslavement looms at every corner as the realit ...more
“The boy’s proficiency with needlework was clear from the first, and Pearl was surprised. Would Ridley have hired him out so reasonably if he’d known how skilled the boy was? He’d had practice taking instructions and following steps to the letter and he was agile and accomplished at simple sewing. Pearl realized right away that this little Gabriel was a competent hand for tailoring.”

The story begins when little Gabriel, a slave boy, is hired out to a Jewish tailor in Georgetown. It is a handfu
Dec 23, 2009 Laura rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Dec 15, 2009 Amy rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This novel follows a family before, through and after the Civil War. Very interesting novel. I learned a lot about the time period -the author did an excellent job of weaving history into the narrative. It was very difficult to read (emotionally) at times but well worth it.

The rhythm of the language in the book was challenging for me to become accustomed to initially, but did not keep me from enjoying the book. Once I got the rhythm, I was amazed at the language and how it boosts the enjoyment
Sandy Vaughan
Sep 16, 2009 Sandy Vaughan rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This is the story of Sewing Annie who is put under the tutelage of Knitting Annie to learn her skills on the Ridley Plantation. When Knitting Annie dies, Sewing Annie takes up the the black smith by whom she has a boy, Gabriel, and a girl, Ellen. By teaching them her skills, she hopes to save her children from the fields. At 10, Gabriel is sent to Washington DC to apprentice to a tailor. The tailor moves on after selling the shop to the Master. The Master's nephew is put in charge of the store w ...more
Summer Van Wagoner
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Dec 31, 2009 Shelby rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
This book is about a black family who lived in DC before and during the civil war. I wanted to like this book and parts of it I liked, however, on the whole it wasn't very good. The writing is difficult at times and the characters were hard for me to connect with and really like. Then at the end it got boring and I almost didn't finish it. In about 7 pages the author has about 10 major things happen and the book ends. Weird. Plus, there was too many rape scenes and I can do without rape scenes.
The Urban Book Source
Reviewed by Vanessa Dora Murray

Stand the Storm—another exceptional novel from the pen of Breena Clarke, the bestselling author of River, Cross My Heart, an October 1999 Oprah Book Club Selection—has arrived. A riveting tale about enslavement, struggle, sacrifice, and the Coats, a family that manages to buy their freedom, true freedom.

Sewing Annie Coats, the lead character, comes to the realization that slaves with special skills are the last to be sold. So, as the most skilled sewer in her neck
Aug 24, 2009 OOSA rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition

STAND THE STORM by Breena Clarke tells the story of slaves Annie, aka Sewing Annie, and her son Gabriel Coats. Gabriel was groomed by his mother to help sew, weave, knit and dye cloth. Gabriel exhibited a genuine aptitude for needlework. Master Ridley, of the Ridley Plantation, decided to hire ten-year-old Gabriel out to the local tailor. Eventually Master Ridley devises a business plan to open up his own business in tailoring. Any extra business that Gabriel would get on his own would be
Stand the Storm by Breena Clarke is the story of 3 generations of freed slaves who live together and earn their livelihood working in a variety of sewing and knitting trades.

It is hard for me to rate this book. There are several areas of strength for me. I feel the author researched the era very well. I appreciate the details that Ms. Clarke uses in her writing. The picture painted of this period in our country's history was vivid. I also feel the subject matter of freed slaves is one that has n
...more Webb
I was really struck with the beauty of the writers words and how she was able to talk about such a very gruesome time in our country with such elegance and grace. The images were so haunting.
I am white and attend a multiracial church with about 80% of the members being african american the first Sunday at church while reading the book I just sat back listening to my pastor and looked around to see all the beautiful people I was surrounded by and to see what they have overcome. It's also sadde
Jun 13, 2011 Lindsay rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Lindsay by: Christmas Gift from Mom
I wanted to like Breena Clarke's "Stand the Storm," but it became one of those books I just dreaded picking up. The story starts just before the Civil War, centered around an enslaved family with the unique sewing abilities. These skills drive the young Gabriel Coats to Washington DC, who leads a successful tailoring shop with the help of his mother and sister. I could tell from the first page that this was not a story that was going to end well - perhaps that is what prevented me from connectin ...more
Like the author's previous book, (which I loved), this book was written with rich prose and phrases so descriptive you often had to read them twice to grasp the full meaning. Because Breena Clarke has this gifted writing style, I gave it three stars.

However, I did not love this book; the subject matter was a bit dark for me--too much reference to the horrors of slavery, mostly sexual,that I might rather just remain ignorant to. The final third of the book really lost my interest; I found that re
Enjoyed the rich vocabulary, character development and the emotional draw into the time period. The deference slaves had to show to masters is crushing no matter how many accounts I've read. Clarke was able to convey all of those emotions so clearly and concisely. While I didn't necessarily "like" the characters I was able to empathize and certainly feel proud of what and who they were and all they accomplished, even if it was for naught...
Jan 27, 2009 Walt rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Clarke returns with a bittersweet slavery-era saga Clarke gets the details — emotional, political, domestic, religious — right across the board and crafts complex and appealing characters. Her knowledge of the period and the novel's dense, deliberate narrative create a poignant story about the intricacies of human bondage and its dissolution, built around a family's unshakable faith in one another. The Coats family of "Stand the Storm" are quasi-free Negroes living in Georgetown just before, dur ...more
Bookmarks Magazine

Like her first work of historical fiction, Stand the Storm weaves together the tale of an African American family struggling to cope in a white world. Although this novel takes place a few generations before River, Cross My Heart, it packs an equally powerful punch. Despite its horrors and violence, Stand the Storm is a surprisingly uplifting love story about men and women attempting to free themselves from bondage. Critics praised the emotional depth of Clarke's characterizations and her compel

Aug 26, 2009 Marie rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Overall it wasn't a bad book. It's not one that I would recommend to most people due to some of the content. This book would be better for an adult audience who doesn't mind heavy content. There is some sexual language and abuse that may not be appropriate for the under 15 crowd.

I do believe portions of the story were valuable because it reminds us of our history... the good and the bad. However, the middle of the book slowed down compared to the beginning. My biggest complaint about this book
A solid depiction of what blacks, both enslaved and free, had to endure in and around the nation's capitol just prior to the Civil War and during its fighting.
Aug 01, 2009 Glenn rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fiction-general
This is an account of the plight of urban based slaves in Georgetown during the years leading up to the Civil War. The main characters are a mother and son named Annie and Gabriel who are able to buy their freedom, which is a triumph for them. The story goes on to depict the son getting married to a woman named Mary and having several children who are all born free. Even though they've acquired freedom, they still have many struggles along the way, but through it all are able to plod on and surv ...more
Apr 16, 2010 Angie rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fiction
Can a slave ever really but thier freedom ?
I love how Clarke wrote this story from the feelings , thoughts and desires of Annie Coates , her son Gabriel and thier extended family - slaves seeking to buy thier freedom . Her tale is an interesting contrast to books on slavery where the focus is on what happens to slaves at the hands of thier " masters " .
I did not love when the author tried to weave history into the story. It became choppy , like a puzzle piece that just doesn't fit . I found
Nov 12, 2008 alex rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A possible Arlington Reads pic for 2009, about a family in Georgetown, who go from slavery to freedom. I like this one a lot - the writing is lovely - and I'm glad to be reading it just for myself, even if it is emotionally difficult.

Reasons to chose this book for AR: It's local (takes place in Georgetown/MD), it's about slavery, which is topical given our new president, and the author is local. Could inspire good discussions, but the flip side is whether or not people will feel enthusiastic ab
I read about 1/3 of the book and just did not care to finish it. It was too jumpy and too explicit at times.
I love reading about this time period (Civil War) and especially about slaves and how they have overcome so many obstacles. I really enjoy stories of the trials and tribulations of people and famlies, but this one didn't connect with me as well as others I've read set in the same timeframe. The characters were interesting and dynamic, but something about the way the story was told turned me off just a bit. I thought the ending was appropriate (albeit sad) and did feel somewhat satisfied when I f ...more
Sep 10, 2013 Deliasue rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
From back of book:
"A compelling novel... Inspired by tales told to her by her parents about growing up in the 1920's, Breena brings to life a whole neighborhood of vivid personalities, writing blacks back into Georgetown's history."
While I grew up in Wva, our little town had no black people in it. I didn't see any of them until we moved to Ohio. I was not taught to be partial of any color. God loves us all.

I would like to read her other book "River Cross my Heart". It was one of Oprah's book clu
As a descendant of enslaved Africans who would have lived lives very much like the Coates did (Southern Maryland tobacco farms as well as skilled and semi-skilled urban slaves) I really wanted to love this book. Unfortunately ,the whole thing read like a collection of story ideas none of which were brought to a satisfying conclusion. I thought the writing was prosaic and the characters were never really explored to their fullest. It was a wonderful story that needs to be told however, "Stand the ...more
Jan 01, 2014 Jen rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Great book about slavery and the struggles that one family goes through. It was written about the Coates family who did tailoring under the direction of a white slave owner. Loved the characters and felt their heartache and happiness throughout the book. Didn't love the character of Gabriel but am sure that he was described true to form of a father/husband in those days.
Sep 01, 2008 Kathy rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
I have finished this book and lowered the rating one star. I was intrigued with the story and wrapped up in the characters' lives until the last 60-80 pages. The individual stories are complicated and no-doubt reflective of the lives of slaves. For as much effort as Clarke puts into creating the characters and giving them distinct backgrounds and stories, she rushes the conclusion. The last 100 pages could have been twice that or more--would have to be in order to stay true to the intricacies of ...more
Nov 02, 2010 Karen rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Takes place before, during and after the Civil War where a mother and her grown son manage to buy their freedom being a seamstress and he a tailor, making uniforms for soldiers while living in Washington D.C. Very graphic at times as to what happens to these slaves and the betrayal they suffered after obtaining their freedom. Short read of 320 pages where I think the author could have gone into more detail on some parts of the story line and at times I didn't like her writing style but overall w ...more
Jun 10, 2015 Megan rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Mar 04, 2016 Porter rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
I thought this was an interesting read. It gives a different perspective leading to the end of slavery. It made an impression on me with how Washington, DC had to deal with contraband and freemen both before the Civil War ended.
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Breena Clarke's third novel, ANGELS MAKE THEIR HOPE HERE, will be published in July, 2014. Breena is the author of two historical novels set in the Georgetown neighborhood of Washington, D.C. Her debut novel, RIVER, CROSS MY HEART (1999) was an October 1999 Oprah Book Club selection. Clarke’s critically reviewed second novel, STAND THE STORM is set in mid-19th century Washington, D.C. and was cho ...more
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