When Richard Winters points his Harley away from New York and heads south, looking for peace and a release from the memories of a devastating love affair, he wants nothing more than solitude and an opportunity to find himself again. The small town of Summitville in North Carolina where nobody knows him seems a great place to start again, but what he doesn’t count on, though, is meeting the beautiful and desirable young Creole woman by the name of Noémie whose desirability he must fight if he truly is to fulfil his promise to himself of no romantic entanglements. Set in the mid-sixties, against the background of the Civil Right’s Movement, Noémie’s Journey by Victoria Saccenti explores the reality of life for a beautiful coloured woman in the South. Laws may have changed, but attitudes will take generations to change. Richard, a Yankee, from up north, has no perception of what an interracial relationship will entail in North Carolina in the sixties, but Noémie knows well the ingrained racism of her fellow residents that she deals with every single day of her life.
Noémie’s Journey serves to remind us just how far we have come in the forty years in race relations, but equally it also makes us examine our feelings toward people who are different to us, today – a touchstone for American society, as much now, as it ever has been. Author Victoria Saccenti does a superb job of highlighting the institutional and deep racism that was just below the surface of civil society, especially in the South, in those turbulent years of the mid to late sixties. At its heart this book is a love story and a beautiful one at that. I particularly loved the author’s ability to convey the depth of love and the power of their passion, in her words, without ever having to resort to crudity or erotica. As a reader, I felt the build-up of sexual tension and revelled in the “when will they”, just as much as the participants. This is a real fillip to the author and it is what makes this book so very readable and one of the best of its genre. I thoroughly enjoyed this read and can highly recommend it to all readers who like a true romance, but also enjoy a bit of action and thoughtful social comment.