The Map of True Places by Brunonia Barry

Brunonia Barry‘s (check out her writing space) The Map of True Places (out on March 22 in paperback) is set in New England — Boston and Salem with a touch of Irish charm — much like her first book The Lace Reader (my review).  Zee Finch is a psycotherapist working for the prestigious practice of Dr. Liz Mattei and with patients who have bi-polar disorder.  Her patients’ symptoms remind her of her deceased mother in many ways, but Lilly Braedon, her problems, and her suicide take center stage for Zee.

“She carefully placed the bottle into the trash compactor, then flipped the switch, waiting for the pop and the smash.  The bag was almost full, so she removed it and took it out to the deck, walking all the way back down the stairs in her bare feet, placing the compacted bottle into the bottom of the garbage bin, not with the recyclables, as she would have preferred, but with the regular trash, so that there would be no evidence of the bottle.”  (page 21-2, hardcover)

Like the puzzle of the underground tunnels in The Lace Reader and the patterns in the lace, The Map of True Places presents a series of puzzles, mazes, and other patterns to follow as Zee struggles to put the pieces of her past back together so that she can deal with them one-on-one rather than burying them deep inside.  Unlike her professional persona that helps her patients discuss their internal turmoil and family problems, Zee continues to struggle with the death of her mother and the emotional absence of her father throughout her adolescence.  The broken wine bottle is just one significant image in Barry’s book in that it signifies how Zee deals with her problems and hides from confrontation as much as possible.

Barry’s prose is complex, full of imagery, and engaging.  She easily weaves her puzzles, leading readers through the narrative without revealing too much before it needs to be.  Zee is a broken character who tries to put a good face on her life even when she is not as sure about her choices as she should be.  Zee not only needs to deal with her past, but also determine if her present and future will include her fiance Michael, one of the state’s most eligible bachelors.  Overall, The Map of True Places is an engaging novel that navigates the past, present, and future simultaneously as Zee examines herself and her choices searching for her true path.

This is my 6th book for the 2011 Wish I’d Read That Challenge.

Brunonia Barry’s Map Room

Brunonia Barry was one of the authors I was dying to meet at Book Expo America, and unfortunately, I was in such a rush with packing and prepping for a week of reviews from my mom that I dropped the ball.  I sincerely apologize to my readers and Brunonia Barry.

Originally, this wonderful guest post from Barry should have posted when she appeared at BEA on Wednesday, May 26.

I loved The Lace Reader and cannot wait to read her latest book, The Map of True Places; to see what I thought of The Lace Reader, check out my review.

Without further ado, here’s a guest post from Brunonia Barry on her writing space, which she calls The Map Room.

My writing space is a second floor ex-bedroom with maps from very old National Geographic magazines glued to the walls. Many of the countries on the maps either no longer exist, or their names have been changed. The room has four big windows giving it great natural light and a view down our historic Salem street. It also has a fireplace I’ve never used, mostly because it has been claimed over the years as a cave by our fifteen year old Golden Retriever, Byzy, who often joins me when I write, or at least he did when he was younger and still able to easily climb the stairs. These days the fireplace has become more altar than cave displaying anything remotely connected with my second book and some leftover treasures from my first.

Our house was built in the style of an old Captain’s house, though I think it belonged first to a minister and his family and later, just before we bought it, to two artists who raised their family here and stayed for thirty-seven years. The room where I write was once their son’s bedroom, and they creatively covered it with those maps which made it a perfect writing room and inspiration for me since I’ve recently been working on a novel titled The Map of True Places. When their son grew up and moved away, the artists set up their easels in this room. That is the way I first encountered this creative space, with easels and paintings in progress and the smell of oil paint, a smell I loved and remembered from childhood because my mother was also a painter.

I cleaned up the clutter a bit before I took these photos. When I’m writing a book, I tend to collect anything that I think might be useful to read or look at or to meditate upon, and I have found many items along the way.  I have been collecting things for The Map of True Places for the last two and a half years and things related to The Lace Reader for a long time before that, so I’ve accumulated quite a bit. Before cleaning up, I took an inventory of the things I had collected. Books were piled on every available surface, including five copies each of every international edition of The Lace Reader, (there have been thirty). I try my best to give most of them away. Whenever I meet people who speak different languages, I always get their addresses so I can send them a book.  The goal is to have just one copy of each edition. I will get there one day. Meanwhile, I am once again on tour and therefore buying more books. I’m going to purchase more bookshelves when the tour is over and turn the map room into a library, making it an even more inspirational place to write.

Here’s a list of some of the items I‘ve collected along the way: All things Hawthorne and Melville. A carved wooden moose on skis that I bought in Bar Harbor Maine on The Lace Reader book tour. Two Revolutionary War soldiers that were once in my parent’s house and now stand facing each other from both sides of the fireplace. Two ship’s models. Several books about pirates. A map of famous New England shipwrecks. Six volumes of romantic poetry. Three envelopes of Gibraltar candies (the kind they packed as ballast and used to bribe custom’s officials on the Salem ships that sailed out of here in the 1700’s). A tattered photo of my maternal grandmother in her wedding gown that I found in an old trunk and will one day  have restored. A piece of lace carved from an eggshell. Two quartz singing bowls tuned to different chakras. Several books on meditation. A ceramic tree my mother- in-law sent us with Celtic crosses and leprechauns hanging from its branches. A seagull that flies upside down and cannot be righted. Several coffee cups from different places around the world. I drank only tea when writing my first book, and only coffee for this last one (both are important to the stories). I drink decaf when I’m listening to my muse, and caffeinated coffee when I’m editing.

I write directly on the computer and have two of them (both Apples but one a Mac Air for when I’m on tour). It’s a good thing there are two, because one of them died the day before I finished my last book. I think I simply wore it out, though they have since replaced the hard drive, and it has recovered. I can’t say enough about the importance of backing up your work and sending it to an outside location. I was lucky to have done that.

I am very attached to my map room and have tried to write in other locations. I can do it, but I’m never as happy with the process. There is something about sitting here, surrounded by books, with that northern painter’s light filtering through the windows that summons the muse better than any other place I have ever written.

Thanks so much, Brunonia, for sharing with us your writing space.  Stay tuned for my review later this month of The Map of True Places.

Giveaway for Map of True Places by Brunonia Barry

Author Brunonia Barry has a new book, The Map of True Places, which hit stores on May 4.  I loved The Lace Reader and cannot wait to read her latest book; to see what I thought of The Lace Reader, check out my review.

“In The Map of True Places, Boston psychotherapist, Zee Finch’s impending marriage falls apart and she loses a bipolar patient to suicide, she returns to the town of her troubled youth––Salem––to care for her ailing father.  While there, Zee encounters danger as she falls into the puzzle of unraveling the mystery surrounding her own mother’s suicide when Zee was a child and realizes shocking parallels between the death of her mother and that of her patient, Lilly Braedon.  She also finds new love with a man who has a mysterious past, which may or may not be related to Lilly’s death.”

Check out this video of Brunonia Barry discussing the novel:

I have one copy of Brunonia Barry’s The Map of True Places for a lucky US/Canada reader:

1.  Leave a comment about whether you’ve read Barry’s work before or why you would like to read this novel.

2. Tweet, Blog, Facebook, or spread the word about the giveaway and leave a link for a second entry.

3.  For a third entry, become a Facebook fan of the blog (you can find the widget in the left sidebar).

Deadline is May 12, 2010 at 11:59 PM EST

The Lace Reader by Brunonia Barry

Brunonia Barry’s The Lace Reader takes place in Salem, Mass., with a still point and a spiral of events that take place during Sophya “Towner” Whitney’s journey from childhood to adulthood and inside her mind. Readers know from the beginning that Towner lies and is an unreliable narrator.

“The perfect line of the first-floor windows gleams back at me from the winter porch, I catch my reflection in the wavy glass, and I’m surprised by it. When I left here, I was seventeen. I haven’t bee back for fifteen years. I knew my reflection in the glass when I was seventeen, but today I don’t recognize the woman I see there.” (Page 12 of the hardcover)

The death of her sister weighs heavily on Towner’s mind, sends her to a mental hospital, and forces her to move to the Pacific coast. She only returns to Salem when she learns her Aunt Eva is missing. Barry weaves a psychological mystery for readers, leading them into the dark alleyways of Towner’s memories, seeking the truth about her past and her family. Who is her mother? What happened to her sister? Where is her father? And why in a family of lace readers is she the one that has shunned the practice?

“Sometimes, when you look back, you can point to a time when your world shifts and heads in another direction. In lace reading this is called the ‘still point.’ Eva says it’s the point around which everything pivots and real patterns start to emerge.” (Page 24 of the hardcover)

May, Towner’s mother, refuses to leave her island in Salem Harbor, even for funerals, but she helps abused women and those in need, helping them learn how to make Ipswich lace. Aunt Emma lives on the island, but remains detached from reality following her abusive relationship with Cal Boynton.

Barry’s characters are human in their frailties, passions, and reactions to traumatizing events. Parts of the novel are narrated by Rafferty, the police officer in town, and parts of the novel are narrated by May, Towner’s mother, which can cause readers to pause. However, readers will love the how the tunnels beneath Salem resemble the crevices of Towner’s mind, and when each page turns, readers and Towner will emerge from the darkness into the light of the bay.

About the Author:

Brunonia Barry was born and raised in Massachusetts. She made her literary debut with the critically acclaimed New York Times bestselling novel The Lace Reader (William Morrow). The book landed on international bestseller lists.

Check out Brunonia Barry’s blog and The Lace Reader Website.

Also, in the September issue of Book Page, there will be a sweepstakes in which the grand prize is a trip for two to Salem, two nights at The Hawthorne Hotel, and a guided Lace Reader tour of Salem with Brunonia.

For my loyal readers, I’ve got one paperback copy to give away! This giveaway will be international as usual.

1. Leave a comment on this post about a time when you went or thought about having your fortune read.

2. Blog, tweet, or spread the word about this giveaway and leave a comment and link here.

Deadline is Sept. 7, 2009, at 11:59 PM


Also Reviewed By:
Books Lists Life 
Trish’s Reading Nook
Sam’s Book Blog
The Literate Housewife Review
Shh… I’m Reading

Hey Lady! Whatcha Readin’?
books i done read