Genre: Historical Fiction
A chance encounter between a penniless young woman in search of her missing brother and a hobo burdened with a big secret takes both on a journey to Chicago's glamorous yet crime-ridden 1920s, where prostitution, bootlegging, and corruption rule. Separated by fate and reunited by chance, WHERE THE NIGHT NEVER ENDS is an unforgettable tale of courage and perseverance, a tribute to the triumph of hope and love against all odds.
When feisty and headstrong Samantha Bruno loses her mother in a freak accident, she decides to search for her brother, Angelo, who didn't return from a business trip to Chicago seven months earlier. It is the year 1924, the height of prohibition, and the city of Cincinnati is in the midst of a deep recession. Narrowly escaping a band of thugs, Sam meets Paul, a mysterious hobo with a big secret. Together they embark on a harrowing journey to Chicago, where Al Capone is building an empire.
Just when it seems their friendship is blossoming into something more, a raid tears Sam and Paul apart. Sam is sold into a brothel while Paul is arrested. Trapped without money and desperate to escape her new profession, Sam realizes she is on her own. Not only to free herself and search for her brother among Chicago's three million residents, but also to do the impossible--find Paul.
During his hearing, Paul learns that his father, a wealthy Chicago inventor, is on his deathbed. The judge, an old family friend, gives Paul an ultimatum. See your father or go to jail. Reluctantly, Paul returns home, where he finds that his decision to run away seven years earlier was based on a terrible mistake.
Narrated in alternating chapters by Sam and Paul, with rich historical detail, complex characters, and stunning prose, award-winning author Annette Oppenlander once again delivers a touching novel that lets us imagine what it was like to live and love during the roaring 1920s.
I awoke in the early morning, my bones chilled as if they could fracture. I stomped back and forth in the abandoned lot until an inkling of warmth returned to my feet and hands. Remembering the sack from yesterday, I pinched my nose and took a drink from the whiskey. I shook myself as the liquid edged a fiery trail down my throat and gathered heat in my middle.
I’d made up my mind to leave.
What about Papa’s favorite cooking pot made from cast-iron? And his knife used for cutting ingredients, Mamma’s quilt that carried her scent? Should I return and check? Visit my girlfriend, Helen, who lived on the same block? We’d gone to school together, but Helen worked in a canning factory six days a week because her father worked there too.
No, I couldn’t risk it. Talbott had no doubt taken over my apartment and everything in it. Or he was lying in wait. There was no telling what he’d do if he caught me.
Straightening my achy knees, I stumbled onto the street and turned south. Frost covered the muddy trail and puddles. I filled my lungs because the air was almost bearable this morning, not yet soiled with manure from the daily herding of pigs to slaughter and the neglected dirty skin of men out of work.
I’d go search for my brother. He was bound to be in Chicago and he had to be alive. I was sure of it. Why else had there been that mysterious Chicago Tribune newspaper in the mailbox? It had only happened once—it couldn’t be a coincidence. But for some reason Angelo had chosen not to return, not even write. Something big had to have happened, something that had scared Angelo into abandoning mighty George Remus, abandoning Mamma and me. If there was any chance he was still there, I had to find him.
Only when the rail yard came into view did I realize I knew nothing about traveling on trains. In my cluttered brain, I’d figured to catch a free train north. How else was I going to get there without money? Buses required tickets. Walking took weeks and provisions I didn’t have.
Hundreds of cargo wagons stretched in every direction, seemingly parked helter-skelter along miles of rails. Where they went was anybody’s guess. There was a chill in the air, a frigid wind whistling along the tracks. It carried none of the filthy odor I knew from my neighborhood, but something unfamiliar and hostile. I tucked my coat around me, the shotgun a comfortable weight beneath my armpit. I’d fashioned a loop into the lining, the butt of the gun resting in the inner seam of my coat.
Angelo’s blue eyes, so much like my own, appeared in my vision. I angrily wiped a sleeve across my face and climbed over the first rails.
I’d heard of hobos, men crisscrossing the country in search of jobs. Surely one of them knew how to find Chicago. I’d simply ask directions.
“Look what we gots here,” a voice snickered.
“Is the girly lost?” another chimed in.
“She needs a fella to help her out,” a third voice said as the man attached to it stepped into my way. “Where to, doll?” His grin exposed a graveyard of foul teeth. There was no telling how old the man was, his face hidden behind a jungle of beard and month’s worth of grime.
I stopped abruptly, hugging the sack with my remaining supplies to my chest. Unless I threw everything down and had space and time to wrestle out my shotgun, I didn’t stand a chance.
AUTHOR Bio and Links:
Annette Oppenlander is an award-winning writer, literary coach and educator. As a bestselling historical novelist, Oppenlander is known for her authentic characters and stories based on true events, coming alive in well-researched settings. Having lived in Germany the first half of her life and the second half in various parts in the U.S., Oppenlander inspires readers by illuminating story questions as relevant today as they were in the past.
Oppenlander’s bestselling true WWII story, Surviving the Fatherland, won multiple awards, including the 2017 U.S. National Indie Excellence Award. Her historical time-travel trilogy, Escape from the Past, takes readers to the German Middle Ages and the Wild West. Uniquely, Oppenlander weaves actual historical figures and events into her plots, giving readers a flavor of true history while enjoying a good story. Oppenlander shares her knowledge through writing workshops at colleges, libraries, festivals and schools. She also offers vivid presentations and author visits. The mother of fraternal twins and a son, she recently returned to her home, Solingen, Germany where she lives with her husband and old mutt, Mocha.
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3.75 out of 5 stars
Where the Night Never Ends: A Prohibition Era Novel by Annette Oppenlander follows the adventures of Samantha (Sam) Bruno, a young woman who is buffeted by a series events that prompt her to seek her missing brother in Prohibition Chicago. A rescue by a hobo named Paul McKay is only the first of the events that completely change her life as she struggles to survive in a society replete with lawlessness and graft, and the series of men she meets each shape her future, and not all of them have her best interests at heart.
This historical fiction tale gives a glimpse of the challenges of being an unprotected and virtually unskilled woman in the gritty society that formed during Prohibition. There are plenty of dark elements that are included, including alcoholism, abuse, graft, extortion, and other illegal activities, but there are also inspirational elements as Sam finds a way to survive, no matter what obstacles life throws at her. There are some elements that seem a little forced to me, and although I admire Sam’s tenacity, she was also frustrating with her headlong rush into situations she couldn’t really handle. I like the way well-known figures of the time and place have small roles in the story, with different perspectives given into their personalities, but I didn’t form a strong rapport with any of the characters and I think some things are tied up almost too tidily. Despite this, the story is a fascinating look at the lives and times affected by the introduction of the Volstead Act and the story is nicely enriched by the many historical details included.
A copy of this title was provided to me for review