Cover image for
Stand the storm : a novel
Clarke, Breena.

Personal Author:
First edition.
Physical Description:
pages cm
Pub Date:
Little, Brown and Co., 2008.


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Material Type
Shelf Number
Adult Fiction Book CLARK
Adult Fiction Book CLARK

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Even though Annie Coats and her son have managed to buy their freedom, their lives are still marked by constant struggle and sacrifice. Washington's Georgetown neighbourhood is supposed to be a 'promised land' for former slaves but is effectively a frontier town, gritty and dangerous, with no laws protecting black people.

Reviews 3

Booklist Review

In this story of a slave family buying its freedom, Clarke illuminates and personalizes a dreadful part of our nation's past. Skilled needleworker Sewing Annie at Ridley Plantation in St. Mary's County, Maryland, trains her son, Gabriel, so well that at the age of 10, he's hired out to a tailor in Georgetown (also the site of Clarke's best-selling debut River, Cross My Heart, 1999). Gabriel is successful enough to buy manumission in 1854 for himself and his family, a bargain abrogated by crafty Jonathan Ridley in 1862 when District of Columbia slaves are decreed free with their owners eligible for compensation. Although the family, taking the surname Coats, no longer suffers the cruelty commonly meted out to persons considered the property of others, abject humiliation and threats to their liberty continue. Clarke laces the novel with details, including accounts of syndicates of African American laundry women and U.S. black troops, to the extent that plot becomes secondary. Although some incidents seem extraneous, and even primary characters are dispatched with unseemly haste, this is a vivid view of slavery.--Leber, Michele Copyright 2008 Booklist

Publisher's Weekly Review

Starred Review. Clarke returns with a bittersweet slavery-era saga, partially set--like her smash 1999 Oprah-pick, River, Cross My Heart--in Washington, D.C.'s Georgetown. On Ridley Plantation in rural Maryland, Gabriel Coats picks up his mother Annie's seamstress skills with remarkable ease, but is sold at age 10 to established Georgetown tailor Abraham Pearl. For eight years, Gabriel works hard and keeps an eye on freedom for his family as the Washington abolitionist movement gains momentum. Master Ridley's nephew Aaron begins overseeing the tailoring shop, and Gabriel and Annie busily create sartorial masterpieces as war steadily approaches. By the time freedom becomes a reality, only a few of the Coatses emerge with their pride and abilities intact. 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. (July) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved All rights reserved.

Library Journal Review

They've finally bought their freedom, but Sewing Annie Coats and son Gabriel find life in their new hometown pretty tough-especially with war approaching. A follow-up to River, Cross My Heart, Clarke's Oprah pick; reading group guide. (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.