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Call the Darkness Light

4.17 of 5 stars 4.17  ·  rating details  ·  111 ratings  ·  19 reviews
Call The Darkness Light is an epic novel of a young woman's passionate struggle for independence in 19th century America.

Set in Massachusetts during the two decades before the Civil War, the novel tells the story of Sabra Palfrey - a Lowell "mill girl" who with her sister weavers and spinners was one of the first generation of American women to work and live apart from the

Paperback, 564 pages
Published July 1st 2003 by Soho Press (first published 1979)
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The Daring Ladies of Lowell by Kate AlcottEmmeline by Judith RossnerMrs. Somebody Somebody by Tracy WinnUnravelling by Elizabeth GraverLyddie by Katherine Paterson
Lowell Mills
9th out of 54 books — 1 voter
North and South by Elizabeth GaskellThe Daring Ladies of Lowell by Kate AlcottEmmeline by Judith RossnerMrs. Somebody Somebody by Tracy WinnShirley by Charlotte Brontë
Textile Mill Fiction
13th out of 84 books — 4 voters

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Community Reviews

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Dec 23, 2010 Kim added it
The setting of this book was in Lowell, Ma where I grew up. It was amazing to brought back in time and read about such places as the Shaw Hospital, the Acre, the mills, etc.
Disclaimer: this is a half baked review about half read book:

At first I found this book charming and a great history lesson about the mill industry in 1830s New England. It follows the story of a mill worker in a cloth factory. There is a touch of Dickens in the entertaining presentation of grim poverty. The character leaves the mill to follow her quasi fiance to a back to nature cult, part of the utopian communities of the era, I am sure I learned about it in college. There is a stint with the
Judi/Judith Riddle
I read this book in 1996 and was enthralled with the history of it. I plan to reread it someday.
Amazingly rich and a superbly researched novel. Early 19th century history geeks such as myself had little to complain about the historical minutae of the book. I really appreciated the level writing of the heroine Sabra. She was perfectly written as a women in her own time and place.
So often histocical fiction can project modern ideals and concepts onto people in history. Rest assured this did not happen here. Without making Sabra seem like a dullard or uninformed in her time, Author Nancy Za
(By a Hampton Beach kid of the '40's, '50s: Anyone remember the fisherman 'statue' in a 'pond' on the main road in Amesbury signaling "We're almost at the 10 cent wooden toll bridge to Hampton?)

Zaroulis' "Call..." blew my mind away in the '80s by vividly enlightening me about what happened 150 years earlier on the streets, e.g. Church/Andover to Belvedere and other neighborhoods, I trodded as a teen to woo gals! to thus appreciate what the Mill Gals forged for me to later enjoy the birthing of t
James Barnes
This book was a page turner and could not put it down. I happened to have the book laying dusty in book case. The coincidence was that I had gone to dinner w/ friends, who lived in Lowell, the day I started it. I was completely in awe of those monstrous mills lining the river bank, like the pyramids in Egypt. What a great history lesson of the mid 19th century. The ending was a bit dull. Is there a sequel? I still gave it 5 stars.
Torn between marking it ok or liked it. It was ok and I did like it most of the time. Historical fiction is not one of my favorite genres and sometimes this book seemed like the author was trying to put everything that happened in this era into the life of the protagonist Sabra. So not only was she a Lowell mill worker, she also ran into Shakers, immigrants (Irish and German),the mystical craze, and the beginnings of the Civil War. I did learn a lot about the mills and how enchanted the outside ...more
Jo Ann
one of my favorite books!
After months, nay years, of reading Harry Potter books, it was nice to read a book written for adults. This was a book recommended to me by a friend. It's a very well written and engaging book about the turn of the century (Well, two centuries ago) and the rise of the factory industry. It's compelling and enticing. Well written and intriquing.
Jackie Sanderson
I read the first edition published in 1979. It's a long novel that is set in Lowell, Mass in the mid-1850s. The main character is an Irish woman who works in the textile mills. It's a great historical treatment of what life and working conditions were like then. One of the most unforgettable stories I've ever read.
Call the Darkness Light is one of my favorite books. The story of a woman making her life alone in that era affected me profoundly. All workers, but especially female workers, struggled just to survive.
Nancy Zaroulis is one of my favorite authors. She writes now as Cynthis Peale. This book is similar to The Darling Girls of Lowell (I have to read this too).
I really liked this book. Fact filled historical fiction about the Lowell Experiment and the life of women working in the textile mills.
I read this book many years ago and thought it was a good story of what it was like to be a worker in New England mills..
Nicole Gust
pretty good book about the life of a young woman working in the mills, falling in love and then being a single parent.
Very good evocation of the time period -- 1800s Massachusetts mill towns. Very sad and depressing.
Swedish version of the book.Will keep me for some time I guess.It was a good book.
I'm currently reading it & will comment when finish!
Becki Murison
Why is this book not famous? Seriously.
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Nancy Zaroulis aka Cynthia Peale is the author of Call the Darkness Light and The Last Waltz, among other successful novels. She lives outside Boston.
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