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The Loom

3.69  ·  Rating details ·  1,494 ratings  ·  152 reviews
A slave is torn between the love she has and the life she doesn’t.

Lydia was a common slave with a common life until the day she entered a world no slave had gone before. Pale skin and deceit opened the door to wealth and a power she had only dreamed of. But what she didn’t count on was falling in love. What she didn’t realize was life was not always black or white.
Paperback, 240 pages
Published December 1st 2011 by GuidepostsBooks
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3.69  · 
Rating details
 ·  1,494 ratings  ·  152 reviews

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Aug 16, 2012 rated it it was amazing
I wish that my review could do justice to this powerful novel - rich with characters that will linger in my memory for a long time. To say this was well written does not do it justice. I read through it rather rapidly the first time, but once I read the “Author’s Notes” at the end I knew I must read it again slowly to savor the pictures painted with amazing skill. As I re-read, I studied the flow of words which revealed the characters with beauty and clarity. Some have written that the story is ...more
Donna Bennett
The Loom by Shella Gillus is a debut novel. I downloaded a free Kindle edition. The book cover is so compelling and looks like a story to draw you in. This was a book I was so anxiously waiting to read. As a lover of historical fiction, it’s a heart wrenching story of love and redemption set in the Pre-Civil War era. Lydia (aka Caroline) a slave in the pre-Antebellum south, is so light-skinned that she learns she can pass for white and in spite of being in love with John, a field hand. It was a ...more
Mar 01, 2012 rated it it was ok
Shelves: did-not-finish
It is entirely my fault. I was at a new-to-me library and and picked up the first pretty book to catch my eye. Well, it turned out that I picked up a book published by Guideposts. It is written by a lovely woman and the first two chapters have some beautiful language and the glimmer of some sweet ideas, but it desperately needs an editor and a proofreader. Will not finish and, sadly, do not recommend.
Jul 11, 2012 rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: monique and margaret
This is a wonderful love story. Different from what you might expect since it is during the era of slavery. Lydia/Caroline in her desire to be free must choose between her love for John, her husband who is a slave and Jackson a slave owner. In this quest, Lydia/Caroline finds and learns to love who she is. This book is full of intrigue and suspense and was a joy to read.
Jun 25, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Parts were hard to follow because the female character names all started with L and male with J. After reading the prologue this was by design, and reading the prologue made me appreciate the book even more than I did after I finished it.

The lives of the slaves were horrible, some only ever wanted to be free, others to just die and be done with the torture.

Worth the time to read, pay attention to the names and the symbolism in the book, it is really striking.
Tara Chevrestt
This story had me on the edge of my seat. I honestly didn't think it would end well and I so desperately wanted it to...the suspense darn near killed me.

Lydia is a slave--a very light-skinned slave. She wants freedom more than love and this leads to her leaving her husband, a slave named John, because she discovers she can pass as white and does so. This lifestyle is not without its daily fear, lies, and repercussions though.

Good points: I like the little message within...that Lydia merely trad
Dec 15, 2011 rated it really liked it
Have you ever read a book and took your time with it? I recently received a book by Shella Gillus called, The Loom. And believe me, take my time is exactly what I did with this. It is a book that deals with some interesting plots and I can't wait to tell you about it. It will change the way you think about some things.

This is a book that is somewhat different. I haven't read many from a black persons point of view. But I found it to be eye opening. It opens with a girl trying to escape to freedo
Gigi Williams
Jul 12, 2012 rated it it was amazing
Right now this my FAVORITE story! I'm trying desperately to convince my husband to read it. I fell in love with Lydia from the very beginning. At times, I hated her. I am fortunate enough to live in a rich society where slavery has long past. I have never put much thought into how hard survival was in that time period. It almost makes me ashamed to be white. My heart went out to the trials and struggles the slaves on the Kelly Farm went through on a daily basis. It has me feeling very humbled.
Oct 05, 2012 rated it really liked it
Shelves: nook
What a beautiful story!! These mirrored quotations sum it up:

"Every prize had a price. For everything she wanted there attached to it like the thorn of a rose was the thing she didn't. But life was worth the risk no matter what was lost..."

"..every price had a prize. For everything she didn't want, there attached to it like the rose of a thorn was the thing she did. But the loss was worth the life, no matter what the risk..."

Aug 16, 2012 rated it really liked it
This book made me remember anew how much blood is on my hands s a white person in the US. How my comfort comes at the cost so much human suffering and still does. Slavery is sin we all pay for and the root of the resentment we collectively feel about blacks. Their presence is a constant reminder of our collective guilt.

This story is beautifully written and compelling. It's well worth reading and though it broke my heart in places, I'm glad I read it.
Jul 04, 2012 rated it did not like it

This was free on Amazon. I really like reading about this era but this book was (to me) unfathomable. Also, the religion... I feel like I wasted my time with this one. Thank goodness it was free.
Melissa Aguirre
Nov 30, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: one-of-my-favs
This story was beautifully mesmerizing and the characters were so "real". As I read, I felt like I was there, alongside Lydia (Caroline) and I could actually feel her pain, sorrow, love, fear and desperation to be free. This book is a keeper.
May 05, 2012 rated it it was ok
The descriptions were good, and very poetic. However, the characterization wasn't deep, and sometimes the story felt disjointed.
Feb 23, 2019 rated it it was ok
Sigh. This book is well written but I almost didn't finish it because the main character makes such a colossally stupid decision as to border on insanity. I can only suspend my disbelief so far. I read the authors notes at the end & understand the symbolism behind the choice but in the plot flow of the book it was jarring. It would be like someone committing murder on live TV & expecting no one to notice.
Rebecca Manley
Interesting historical fiction, however, the characters names were confusing as they were all beginning with L. A few scenes felt a little jumbled, and made me have to re-read what had just happened. I did enjoy the book, but I wish the author had tried a little harder for clarity.
Ben Andrews
Jul 21, 2017 rated it it was ok
I did not find the characters at all credible. I quickly became bored with the book and moved on to something else. I returned and speed read my way through. The book did not improve.
Ladi Mountain
Jul 01, 2019 rated it it was ok
Lost interest
Dee Renee  Chesnut
I did not finish the ebook because I was annoyed at the frequency I was confused by scene shifts and characters with similar names (Lydia, Lou, and Lizzie.)
I do not recommend this book.
Jun 19, 2018 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
I’ve had this book on my “to read” list a long time. I enjoy historical fiction and was looking forward to reading it. I was very disappointed...the book is poorly written and somewhat confusing.
Cindy Doro
Jun 08, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Good read

Enjoyed this book very much. Read it on vacation on the beach. Good characters and held my interest. Would read this author again.
Thessel Jonas
Feb 20, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition

It took me awhile to become enthralled but after a few chapters, I became hooked. I was feverishly anticipating what the next chapter entailed.
Hmpf. This book sidelined me with religion, and I wasn't super-pleased about it. I wouldn't have minded if the story weren't completely contrived; I know there are stories about black slaves "passing" as whites pre-Civil War (and also later, but that's not what's going on in this book), and I don't doubt that it happened. But those people would have had to think much more carefully about what they were about than Gillus did for her characters, and instead of emphasizing the bravery of those peop ...more
Barbara Brabank
Feb 21, 2017 rated it it was ok
I would have given the book a 3 rating except there were a few areas where it was confusing about what had happened and/or what was happening.
Jul 30, 2012 rated it really liked it
It was a very good book. There were some aspects of the book that I just didn't see as being "real" - like the relationship between Lizzy and Lydia - Lydia is beautfiful and Lizzy doesn't have a jealous bone in her body? They are teenagers and Lizzy still "loves" Lydia the way she did when she was a girl. Other books, true and fictional, I've read the "Masters" children learn to let go and move upward and onward leaving their "friends" alone and in there place. But Lizzy actually encourages Lydi ...more
Christie Hagerman
Oct 14, 2012 rated it it was amazing
Lydia lives between two worlds. As a slave, she is part of those living on the plantation, owned by the Master. But she lives in the house with the family as a companion to their daughter, who is about Lydia's age.

She has a close relationship with her father and her grandmother, but she is also best friends with the Master's daughter, and Lydia's fair complexion doesn't make her African race obvious.
Her heritage is steeped in fear, death, hopelessness, and pain. Yet something stirs within her,
Jan 01, 2012 rated it liked it
This book arrived in the mail as a surprise from the publisher. Although this is set in a time period I love to read about I had never heard of the book or the author and I'm happy to say I enjoyed it. The Loom is definitely not a romance but rather a story of a slave in the antebellum South trying to capture the one thing she wants the most--her freedom. Lydia (aka Caroline) is so light-skinned that she learns she can pass for white and in spite of being in love with a field hand at the Kelly p ...more
Krista Ashe
Jul 02, 2012 rated it really liked it
Shelves: my-112-of-2012
This book grabs you from the prologue and keeps you hooked throughout. I was fascinated by Lydia's story--her strength, her intense will to be free at a time when it wasn't possible. Her courage is formittable, considering she chose to try to escape to freedom. As a house slave, she has risen above the status of most of her family, who are field slaves...including the man she marries.

As for John, he was caring, so passionate. And the story of his great-grandmother working and savin
James Fant
Mar 05, 2015 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
The History and Psychology of an Awesome Novel

Outstanding. Magnificent. Marvelous. Superb! All the adjectives I'd attach to The Loom by Shella Gillus. This book had me stopping mid read to tweet about a gripping passage or just about how a certain scene sparked emotion. I immediately went to the author's webpage and signed up for updates. I want to know when her next book is coming out.

I'm getting ahead of myself (sorry the book is just like that). In the first few pages you see Lydia running an
Jan 19, 2014 rated it really liked it
A page turner for me. Lydia is a slave that longs for freedom, she works in the big house and has a room there so she has much better living and working conditions than her family and the field slaves. Her best friend is Lizzy, the master's daughter. The young women are the same age and grew up together. The master allows this relationship as long as Lydia knows her place and serves his family. Lydia is very light skinned and doesn't have 'colored' hair. Through several circumstances and deceit ...more
Shari Larsen
Jul 28, 2012 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Lydia is very aware of her fate, like every slave on the Maryland plantation in the pre-Civil War South, older slaves too worn out for anything else worked daily in the loom room, weaving and creating cloth for the plantation owner's family. Tucked away and forgotten by most of the others, Lydia listens to their dreams and words of wisdom.

Lydia is light skinned and can "pass" for white. She ran away once, and was recaptured. But the dream of freedom won't die; she attempts again, and discovers w
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Shella Gillus fell in love with the arts as a child. By age ten, she wrote her first chapter book, a three-act play and performed in several theatrical shows. During her teenage years, she penned and performed in plays for her local church and organized a series of summer self-esteem workshops for underprivileged youth in South Tucson.

Shella earned her bachelor’s degree in journalism from the Univ
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