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


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