Today I’m delighted to be joining the blog tour for Sleeping Through War by Jackie Carreira. Do check out the reviews by the other great book bloggers taking part in the tour (see bottom of this post) and find out why I’m not alone in my appreciation for this wonderful book.
About the Book
It is May 1968. Students are rioting, civil rights are being fought and died for, nuclear bombs are being tested, and war is raging in Vietnam. For three ordinary women in Lisbon, London and Washington life must go on as usual. For them, just to survive is an act of courage. How much has really changed in 50 years?
Format: Paperback, ebook (224 pp.)
Published: 28th February 2018
Genre: Literary Fiction
Find Sleeping Through War on Goodreads
Sleeping Through War tells the stories of three different women and is set against the backdrop of world events in 1968, a turbulent time of student demonstrations throughout Europe, civil rights marches in the United States, political tension in Eastern Europe and the Vietnam War. Although the backgrounds of the three women are different, they live in different parts of the world and there is no direct connection between them, their concerns are similar: home, family, worries about the future. In addition, the church plays a role in all their lives.
Both Amalia, a single mother widowed in the war between Portugal and Angola, and Mrs. Johnson, with a son serving in Vietnam, are coping with the consequences of war. Rose, a nurse recently arrived in England from St. Lucia, is engaged in a different kind of war – a war against racial prejudice and discrimination. The author, Jackie Carreira, is a playwright and therefore used to communicating the stories of her characters to an audience through dialogue. Her skill at this is evident from the stories told in the first person – by Rose and Mrs. Johnson – in which the reader gets a real insight into their thoughts and feelings through the distinctive narrative voice of each.
Having said this, Amalia’s story was probably the one I found most engrossing. Left alone to support her son, she is forced to do whatever it takes to earn money to put food on the table, placing herself at the mercy of others as a consequence.
You would have to have a heart of stone not to be moved by the letters Mrs. Johnson writes to her son, Rod, in which the cheerful snippets about domestic life back home barely disguise the despair she obviously feels at being parted from him. A final revelation is heartbreaking, but not in the way you may have been expecting.
Rose was definitely my favourite character. Although she encounters both casual and overt racism, she responds with kindness, understanding and tolerance to those around her, particularly towards her neighbour, Brenda. I also loved her observations about the differences between her birthplace in St. Lucia and England – the cold and rain, the English fixation about discussing the weather, the queuing, the feigned politeness, and how ‘everything in London always looks so dull’. I particularly liked her experience of attending a church service in London. ‘I sing with everyone else during the hymns, but not as loud as I might have done at home. The songs they sing in church here are all so slow.’ Rose felt so real to me in the end that it got to the point where I found myself thinking, ‘Yes, that’s exactly what Rose would do’ or ‘You go for it girl!’.
Sleeping Through War is an engrossing, beautifully written novel about the challenges facing three women in a time of upheaval and change. It made me laugh, it made me cry, it taught me some things I didn’t know and it made me think. Honestly, what more do you want from a book?
I received a review copy courtesy of the author and Rachel’s Random Resources in return for an honest and unbiased review.
In three words: Touching, insightful, thought-provoking
About the Author
Jackie Carreira is a writer, musician, designer, co-founder of QuirkHouse Theatre Company, and award-winning playwright. She mostly grew up and went to school in Hackney, East London, but spent part of her early childhood with grandparents in Lisbon’s Old Quarter. Her colourful early life has greatly influenced her first novel, Sleeping Through War.
Jackie now lives in leafy Suffolk with her actor husband, AJ Deane, two cats and too many books.
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