Ambrosia4All, January 24, 2009 (view all comments by Ambrosia4All)
All I can say is wow. This book tells the story of Towner Whitney of recent-past Salem, Massachusetts. A modern day witch-hunt against a woman with a dark secret and mental illness that makes it hard to discern fact from fiction are the draw here. The self-declared unreliable narrator lives up to that title, making the entire book all that more interesting to ponder over in the end.
The hardest parts of this book were: the beginning, which was difficult to understand because you don't get what's going on at first, and everything in Part 2 and on, which is when I was so hooked I couldn't put it down. When you get to the end, you take a deep breath look around and try to put everything you just read together.
While at times the novel does get ambiguous, I rather liked this technique because it brings to mind the hazy memories a mental illness can create. In other words, it makes sense in the context of the book, however, it's not for all readers and you should pick this book up warned in advance. I tend to like books where you have to work at the end to figure out what's happened. If you don't, you probably want to stay away from this (although, in all honesty, I thought the ending was rather straightforward and explained what had happened quite clearly...).
All together a fabulous story which is hard to define (mystery/suspense and drama with a dash of understated romance and great characters is my best guess). Highly recommended to anyone with a penchant for mystery novels or a flair for the dramatic.
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Lucyspal3, September 1, 2008 (view all comments by Lucyspal3)
This book had some major flaws. In the end the book was about redemption, forgiveness and healing, but the way the reader gets there is too tangled. Other than Rafferty’s past alcohol abuse you never know why he’s so damaged. You only find out in the end why Jack is so damaged with a glimpse in his head, but that glimpse makes him a monster, not a victim.
Did Towner suffer from multiple personalities? Did she suffer from memory loss because of the shock treatment and then made up Lindley to hide her wounds? Did Eva kill herself to awaken Towner?
I felt that the questions left were too many, and the ones answered were too few.
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Tracey, August 1, 2008 (view all comments by Tracey)
This is a charming, dark romp of a read. There is a lot in this book, neowitches, dysfuntional families, romance, mystery, wild wild dogs, and evangelists. Whew! But it all works together into an engaging few hours of escapist reading time. If you are interested in a historical novel about lace making, look for the out of print: The Lacemaker by Jeanne Montupet. It was a best seller in France many years ago. It has a bit of romance, but it is mostly about the lives of the lace making community of Alsace.
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William Morrow & Company -
The Lace Reader is a wonderfully layered novel of gothic suspense set in Salem, Massachusetts. The women of the Whitney family are psychics who can see the future by concentrating on the patterns in handmade lace. Each chapter opens with a passage from the fictional Lace Reader's Guide. As Towner Whitney revisits Salem (a world she left behind years before) to look for her missing aunt, she uncovers a mystery that is deeper and more complex than the lace that she is compelled to read again. A captivating and smart debut with which to while away a summer afternoon.
by Library Journal,
"[A] most unusual and bewitching novel. Highly recommended."
by Kirkus Reviews,
"[A]n ambitious debut....Unusual and otherworldly, this is a blizzard of a story which surprisingly manages to pull together its historical, supernatural and psychiatric elements."
"Fans of Dennis Lehane's Shutter Island (2003), Chris Bohjalian's The Double Bind (2007), and other modern pop-psych mysteries will not be disappointed."
by Joshilyn Jackson, author of The Girl Who Stopped Swimming,
"Evocative, layered, smart, and astonishing, The Lace Reader is a fever dream of a novel that will haunt me for a long time to come. The Salem, Massachusetts, that the Whitney women inhabit is a wild, dark place, and I loved every moment that I spent there."
In Barry's captivating debut, Towner Whitney, a young woman descended from a long line of mind readers and fortune tellers, has returned to her hometown of Salem, Massachusetts, for rest and relaxation. Any tranquility in her life is short-lived, however, when her aunt drowns under mysterious circumstances.
by Harper Collins,
In the tradition of The Thirteenth Tale, Brunonia Barrys bewitching gothic novel, The Lace Reader, is a phenomenon. Called “[a] richly imagined saga of passion, suspense, and magic” by Time Magazine, it is a haunting and remarkable tale told by an unforgettable, if strangely unreliable narrator—a woman from an enigmatic Salem family who can foretell the future in patterns of lace. The Lace Reader was a runaway New York Times bestseller—hitting the top lists in major cities across the country, from Boston to Chicago to Los Angeles—and has immediately established debut author Brunonia Barry as a major force in contemporary American fiction.
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