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When Silence Sings

4.24  ·  Rating details ·  225 ratings  ·  84 reviews
After the rival McLean clan guns down his cousin, Colman Harpe chooses peace over seeking revenge with his family. But when he hears God tell him to preach to the McLeans, a failed attempt to run away leaves him sick and suffering in their territory. He soon learns that appearances can be deceiving, and the face of evil doesn't look like he expected ...more
Paperback, 384 pages
Published October 5th 2019 by Bethany House Publishers (first published October 2019)
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Average rating 4.24  · 
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Feb 07, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  (Review from the author)
From the author: Yes, I love all of my books. I mean, it's kind of required--right? But writing Serepta McLean for this story has been such an adventure for me. Even though (or maybe because) she's awful! She broke my heart and gave me hope. I hope she does the same for you. ...more
May 29, 2020 rated it it was amazing
When Silence Sings by Sarah Loudin Thomas is a powerful Christian historical novel set in 1930. Some details are factual, around which the author has woven her story.
The main focus of the novel is an ancient feud, sparked by jealousy of the gifts from God. It is Old Testament stuff – an eye for an eye but Jesus shows us a new way, He calls us to love our enemies and to forgive. “God loves everyone – no matter how wrong we might think they are.” It does not matter what we think of people, each on
Dec 03, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I'm being struck speechless by quite a few books lately and When Silence Sings joins the group. Profoundly captivating. It's really impossible to describe the soul-searching depths to this story. Layers upon layers richly woven into a fascinating tapestry of Appalachian life. Back stories that go back generations. The way the sheer stubbornness of feuding clans can morph into something so evilly destructive. And the light the word of God can bring to those who are willing to listen.

Colman is the
Hatfield/McCoy meets Jonah. Great idea!

1930, Thurmond, West Virginia
Colman Harpe: Aspiring preacher
Ivy Gordon: Albino healer
Serepta McClean: Leader of the feuding McClean clan
Mack and Jake McLean: Serepta's sons
Hoyt Harpe: Self proclaimed head of feuding Harpe clan

What a fascinating story!

(Not really a spoiler since much of this is in the book's blurb):

Weaving in the theme of the Hatfield/McCoy feud, the author tells a captivating tale of the Harpe and McClean clans (note: H and M)
Susan Snodgrass
Oct 02, 2019 rated it it was amazing
'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
Paula Shreckhise
Thurmond , Virginia 1930
This book has a loose connection to a family in the book The Blue Cloak by Shannon McNear. The Harpe family, many years later than that book, make their appearance in this book. How do you stop a long-standing feud between your kin and the MclLean clan? What do you do when God asks you to preach to the enemy?
Colman Harpe is about to stop running as Jonah did, stop fighting God and go right into the lion’s den. Colman didn’t want to be part of the feud and so far has been
100 Pages per Hour
Dec 14, 2019 rated it really liked it
A powerful story about the end of a decades long family feud.

Thomas has a knack for writing characters with unique spiritual gifts. Colman's is his hearing. Ivy's is healing.

My favorite character in this book though was the adorable orphan child.

As always this Thomas book was full of beautiful historical insight. Her research sets her apart from other authors.

I really liked the parallels to Jonah in this book. I also really appreciated the overarching theme of forgiveness. It was amazing to see
Katie Powner
Aug 15, 2020 rated it it was amazing
This was a fantastic book...Sarah Loudin Thomas is the kind of writer I want to be when I grow up.
Dec 13, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: netgalley
Sometimes God does His best work with unwilling tools. I think He does it to prove it's Him and not us.

In the 1930's in the hills of Virginia there were two feuding families - the McLeans and the Harpe's. No one knows for sure what started the feud but it became about power over the other. When a son of the Harpe' clan is killed, Coleman Harpe hears the voice of God. He has that gift of hearing well. But like Jonah, he was not a man of violence but he was not willing to share the gospel to the
"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 - Colm
Nov 29, 2019 rated it it was amazing
I love Sarah’s books because of their authenticity. Her characters are so genuine in their triumphs and their flaws. Her settings feel like home. Her plots are relevant with sound Bible teaching stitched throughout like a handmade quilt you want to wrap up in.

When Silence Sings is beautifully written and stays with you long after you turn the last page. I highly recommend this book.
Nov 20, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Outstanding new release from Sarah Loudin Thomas, When Silence Sings continues excelling in her story-telling with another novel set in West Virginia. With her love of her home state, history and the Appalachian heritage, Thomas pens an engrossing story set in Thurmond, West Virginia, a small Appalachian rail town.

Coleman Harpe wants to be a preacher, not many are taking him serious. As with many of the menfolk of Thurmond, he works for the C&O rails. His deepest desire is to have his own churc
Nov 06, 2019 rated it really liked it
4.5 stars
"And then the silence began to sing."

Colman Harpe longs to be a pastor of the people, but when he gets caught inextricably in the middle of an ongoing local family feud, he begins to walk a line finer than a piece of thread. On the one hand, his unusual circumstances land him in what many consider to be enemy territory, but on the other hand he might be exactly where God intends for him to be; weak, confused, and at the mercy of those who would love to hate him. Except for Ivy.

First sentence: 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.

Premise/plot: Colman Harpe desires to be preacher and leave the family feud far far behind. But the family feud isn’t just in the past. The McLeans are still out to get the Harpes. In fact, soon after the novel opens, Jake McLean murders Caleb Harpe, Colman‘s cousin. The Harpes vow vengeance—most of them at least. Serepta McLean’s messag
Feb 29, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: book-club-reads
As an inspirational read, Sarah Loudin Thomas' When Silence Sings provides an excellent blend of storytelling and faith. While most inspirational writers that I have read, toss in a bible verse or two, Thomas successfully mixes verse, song lyrics and faith to provide a plot full of drama with some comedy. It is difficult to imagine what life would have been like during that time, however, as Thomas takes us into the caverns of ourselves for some deep soul searching. The characters are easy to re ...more
Naomi Shores
Apr 06, 2020 rated it it was amazing
The "modern day" story of Jonah and the Whale with Issac and Esau as a side story. This is not a story I would have typically read but I thoroughly enjoyed it. The author had me hooked from the very beginning and kept me engaged throughout the entire story. Colman Harpe, a preacher hoping to get his own pulpit is tasked with saving the souls of the McLean family, the sworn enemies of the Harpe family. Like Jonah, Colman finds himself in "the belly of a whale (cave)" for three days and then ends ...more
Julie Stauss
Oct 15, 2020 rated it it was amazing
I love the line 'And then the silence began to sing'. ...more
Nora St Laurent
Nov 07, 2019 rated it really liked it
This author whisks readers back in time to the 1930’s West Virginia. She beautifully gives readers the lay of the land through her complex characters and the feud they’ve upheld for years. The author states, “up until now I’ve set my stories in imaginary towns that look a whole lot like the places where I grew up….not this time.” She goes on to tell readers of all that is real and the things she fudged on to make her story work.

Early on the author introduces a number of colorful, quirk, believa
Jan 17, 2021 rated it it was amazing
Excellent read. Absolutely loved it!!!!
Sep 29, 2019 rated it it was amazing
I give this book 5 stars!!
Well written with a taste of what the Hatfield and McCoy feud might have been like. They too were based out of West Virginia and Kentucky.
It truly amazes me what families back then will fight about. Some even take it a little further.
There were about 15 well known feuds, the Hatfield and McCoy the most famous.
Sarah has crafted a very enjoyable read and I just finished this delightful read. It made my afternoon restful and peaceful.
I liked how her storytelling could pa
Debrah Nash
Nov 21, 2019 rated it it was amazing
I completed this wonderful book and could't wait to write my review. I was honored to be a part of the Launch Team and to receive a copy of this book as a part of this Team. The first page of When Silence Sings took me back to the 30's and West Virginia where I saw the same personalities of people who were a part of my life when I was a young wife decades ago in Western North Carolina. From the first page the characters of Serepta, Colman and Ivy's rich layers drew me back in time to the 1930's ...more
Robin Willson
Mar 16, 2020 rated it it was amazing
This is an interesting and engaging book, right to the end. Step into an Appalachian feud, just like the Hatfield and McCoys, only it's the Harpe and McLean families. They've been in a feud for many years, some don't even know why. Colman Harpe will go through an experience both like Jonah and the Whale and Joseph when he resists God's call. Lots of bible lessons throughout, all good and well applied. Coleman is a preacher, and as good as he thinks he is, he still finds it hard to tolerate a McL ...more
Nov 12, 2019 rated it it was amazing
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 accura ...more
Connie Saunders
Nov 27, 2019 rated it it was amazing
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 elsewhe ...more
Nov 22, 2019 rated it it was amazing
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
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 ...more
The feud between the Harpes and the McLeans has been going on for as long as most can remember. The trouble is not many agree on the reason for the feud.

Colman Harpe's mother insisted her family have nothing to do with the feud. So Colman usually felt on the outskirts of his extended family. After his mother died he took up preaching. He figured a preacher was supposed to "turn the other cheek" and not get involved in feuds. He also got a job with the railroad, which keeps him busy most days. He
Joann Marks
Oct 14, 2019 rated it it was amazing
A love story at its purest, but not what you're thinking.

In 1930 Thurmond and Hinton, West Virginia life was vastly different than it is today. Family feuds and the struggles for power seemed a way of life. People from one side, the Harpe family, hated people form the other side, the McClean family, and vice versa. Most didn’t even know why, but all were caught up in the fight. When a McLean shoots dead a Harpe it just adds fuel to an already unpredictable fire.

Amid this hate and animosity, we s
Kelly Hodgkins
Dec 06, 2019 rated it really liked it
“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 t
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I’m a Christian, wife, fundraiser and writer living near Asheville, NC. I grew up on a 100-acre farm in French Creek, WV. I used to say “rural WV,” but realized that’s largely redundant. I LOVE my home state and the fact that I’m the seventh generation to grow up on the family farm. My love of the Appalachian Mountains informs my writing. I want you to be as wild about these hazy, blue mountains a ...more

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