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Before We Sleep (Hardcover)

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Staff Reviews

I have long believed that Jeffrey Lent is one of the finest living writers in our country. Sadly, he has not yet gained recognition outside of New England. His newest novel contains all of the fine writing and use of language that his fans have long associated with his novels. The story of a mother and daughter in Vermont and the man who loved them takes us from the post war years of the 1940's to the dawning of the wild 60's, I was engrossed in this beautiful tale of family and awakening from beginning to end. Jeffrey will be reading The Norwich Bookstore on May 24

— From Penny's Picks

In Before We Sleep, Jeffrey Lent explores a time stretching from just before WWII to the late 60s. He portrays how historic events and cultural shifts affect individuals, shining the spotlight on three generations of one family. Beautiful, descriptive writing reflects how we think and talk: connected fragments and complete sentences, simple observations to complex realizations and understandings.

— From Liza's Picks


The sweeping, intergenerational story of a Vermont family, from WWII to the dawning of the '60s--the most magisterial and moving novel of acclaimed author Jeffrey Lent's career.

Katey Snow, seventeen, slips the pickup into neutral and rolls silently out of the driveway of her Vermont home, her parents, Oliver and Ruth, still asleep. She isn't so much running away as on a journey of discovery. She carries with her a packet of letters addressed to her mother from an old army buddy of her father's. She has only recently been told that Oliver, who she adores more than anyone, isn't her biological father. She hopes the letter's sender will have answers to her many questions.

Before We Sleep moves gracefully between Katey's perspective on the road and her mother, Ruth's. Through Ruth's recollections, we learn of her courtship with Oliver, their marriage on the eve of war, and his return as a changed man. Oliver had always been a bit dreamy, but became more remote, finding solace most of all in repairing fiddles. There were adjustments, accommodations, sacrifices--but the family went on to find its own rhythms, satisfactions, and happiness. Now Katey's journey may rearrange the Snows' story.

Set in a lovingly realized Vermont setting, tracking the changes that come with the turning of the seasons--and decades--and signaling the dawning of a new freedom as Katey moves out into a world in flux, Before We Sleep is a novel about family, about family secrets, and about the love that holds families together. It is also about the Greatest Generation as it moves into the very different era of the 1960s, and about the trauma of war that so profoundly weighed on both generations. It is Jeffrey Lent's most accomplished novel.

About the Author

Jeffrey Lent was born in Vermont and grew up there and in western New York State. He studied literature and psychology at Franconia College in New Hampshire and SUNY Purchase. His first novel, In the Fall, was a national bestseller. His other novels are Lost Nation, A Peculiar Grace, After You've Gone, and A Slant of Light, which was a finalist for the New England Book Award and a Washington Post Best Book of 2015. Lent lives with his wife and two daughters in central Vermont.
Product Details
ISBN: 9781620404997
ISBN-10: 1620404990
Publisher: Bloomsbury USA
Publication Date: May 2nd, 2017
Pages: 400
Language: English