Sunday, January 29, 2012

The Loom by Shella Gillus

Guideposts (December 1, 2011) 312 pages(my ARC was only 224 pages)

When it comes to reading fiction, I tend to go towards light and fluffy or encouraging. I read to stir my imagination and to relax. I typically stay away from books about slavery. They make me angry and it just hurts to read about what slaves went through. (take note I said fiction-I do think slavery is an important subject to remember) The Loom arrived in my mailbox as a surprise, though, and it sounded really interesting, so I gave it a try.

First of all, let me say that I read an ARC. From the description at Amazon, apparently names and details were changed in the story. While I can tell it's the same book, the description at Amazon does not describe the book I read. Apparently, a great deal was changed.

Lydia is the leading lady of the story. She's a slave, but she's so light skinned that she can easily pass for white with new clothes and a new hairstyle. She falls in love with John, a field slave. She's given the chance at "freedom", and she has to decide whether her love of John or her freedom is more important to her. That's a quick summary of the book I read.

Here's the description from Amazon:

A slave owner’s wife harbors a secret that threatens to unravel her marriage and the lives of those around her. Caroline Whitfield lives in the world she dreamt of as a child. Married to Jackson, a plantation owner, in the quiet hills of 1835 Montgomery County, Maryland, she enjoys a simple life, until new slaves, seven-year-old Sadie and her father, arrive. When Sadie’s daddy is taken from her, the young girl is forced to serve the master and mistress she holds responsible for her loss. With her grandmother, fellow slaves in the “Loom Room,” and a young man bent on obtaining his freedom, Sadie struggles to make sense of God’s will in the midst of pain. But Caroline harbors a secret that could bring her world crashing down, and her love for Sadie, the daughter no one knows she had, threatens to tear it all apart. Meanwhile, Caroline draws closer to an old friend, an empathetic and dependable married man. Now she must douse the raging flames of a jealous husband and fight to keep her perfect world intact. The Loom is a colorful tale of three families linked by a lie and their discovery that the truth is not always black and white.

John isn't even mentioned in that description, and he plays a huge role in the ARC. Jackson isn't married, and I have no idea who Sadie is. ????

I had a couple of issues with my version of The Loom.

First of all, I was confused for a big chunk of the book! There seemed to be new characters introduced so quickly that I ended up back-reading several times, trying to place who they were. I was still half confused by the end of the book. There were a few characters that I expected to hear more about, but I was left in the dark as to why some of them were really mentioned in the first place. Then there were passages that I really had no clue what was trying to be said.

Secondly, I just didn't understand WHY Lydia AND John made some of the choices they did. The lack of communication made no sense whatsoever to me. I know that with most stories there's lack of communication, or else there wouldn't be a story. I can usually understand why a person has chosen to keep quiet, even if I don't agree with it. I didn't in this case. I still don't know WHY they made their choices, and I just didn't agree with them at all.

Now, with all that, you're probably thinking I hated the story. I didn't. Other than all that, I DO like the book. It kept my interest enough that I was reading it as I cooked. I typically don't read AND cook at the same time! So, I liked it.

I'd actually really like to read the final version. The final copy does have almost 100 more pages to it. It made me wonder whether I should be reviewing the ARC or not! I decided to go ahead with it to at least put it on your radar. I have a feeling that the issues I had with it are probably worked out in it, though, judging from the Amazon description. Even though I enjoyed this version, I honestly think I would have liked the final version more. I'll definitely be keeping my eye on future books from Shella!

If you've read the final copy, PLEASE let me know what you think of it, or link to your review. I'd love to hear some thoughts on it!!!!! From the reviews I've seen, I think they're all of the ARC.

*I received this book as a gift from the publisher. I wasn't required to review it.


  1. I've got it, but I haven't read it (ARC). I haven't heard anything good yet. So far there are a lot of people that are finding crazy changes almost as if it's not even the same book.

  2. I hadn't heard of it but all I think I can safely say at this point is that I like the cover art. And you ultimately liking it also makes me think I might! (But I'm with you, generally speaking, in that I don't like reading about what slaves went through as a general rule simply because it's unfathomable to me. But I think it's important to read so that we learn not to do that ever again.)