Tuesday, January 6, 2009

THE LACE READER - A Book Breakdown for all You Readers Out There


I'm in a book club at my office. We just finished The Lace Reader by Brunoni Barry.

This is the story of Towner Whitney or Sophya and the women in her family: Great-Aunt Eva, Emma and May - and we can't forget her twin sister Lyndley or Lyndsey - or can we?...

Brunoni Barry decided to self-publish her first novel and it took off like a rocket, which created a bidding war. Learn more about it here. You can listen to the podcast at Prosecast, it's an interview by Cathi Bond.

I love the line in the beginning: "...in the space between what is real and what is only imagined." This speaks to all things unknown and sets the stage for a mystery filled with suspense. What I didn't realize, in the beginning, is that it actually explains the entire book.

The Lace Reader is another story set in witch haven: Salem, Mass. But don't be fooled. This story has a different type of backdrop. It's not your typical Salem witch story. There is an interesting mystery to this story - or maybe a few of them.

One of the new twists to this tale, is the use of Ipswich Lace. The women in Towner's family can read the future - in lace. All they have to do is hold a piece of lace up in front of a person's face, and the reader can see the future.

This was a very creative device to the story and I only wish this aspect would have been developed more because it was fascinating, like phrenology. And I loved the snippets of history delicately woven, like a thin thread, throughout the story.

The mystery starts when Towner's or Sophya's Great Aunt Eva is thought to be missing. Sophya feels duty-bound to travel across the country, to return home, and find out what is going on.

But, immediately, Sophya is caught up in something. We just have no way of knowing what it is:

1) Is it a ghost story?
2) Is her Great-Aunt Eva really at home, sneaking around but healthy and happy?
3) Is everyone crazy?
4) Has anyone searched Aunt Eva's house?

But it doesn't help solve the mystery when they find her. There are still a lot of questions to be answered.

SPOILER ALERT:

Don't read on if you haven't read the story yet and don't want any info about the story leaked out.

SPOILERS:

One question is why did Eva leave everything to Sophya and not her own daughter, Emma? There are so many more questions. Like, what really happened to Lyndley or Lindsey? And why did she kill herself so suddenly?

It makes for a page-turner.

BUT, then, I got to the end. And, I felt "slightly" cheated. Kind of like when Dorothy woke up back home in Kansas with all her friends from Oz surrounding her. Nothing was real.

The same is true here: Towner really was crazy.

And I have more questions now than I had in my head at the half-way marker, in the middle of the book:

1) Did Towner have a split personality or can everything simply be explained away by hysteria and hallucinations?
2) If it was a split personality, did the alter ego surface because she was s. abused by Cal?
3) Was any of the abuse real or was that another part of her hysteria?
4) Was Sophya crazy from birth or did that develop because of her father's s. abuse?

I don't want to ruin it for everyone and it was an interesting story but, like I said, I felt a little cheated at the end. But, if Brunonia Barry decided to write a sequel that answered all my questions...

Well then, the Lace Reader would be a great book.

20 comments:

Christina Farley said...

Facinating book. It's interesting that she went on to self published and it did so well. A really neat story.

adrienne said...

Sounds interesting, and I love to hear about those success stories, too.

Kelly said...

Cool that the author got noticed after self publishing. Sounds like a prety good story!

moonrat said...

i agree with the disappointment at the end--there were so many interesting ways the book could have gone, and then the whole thing was like, "oops! just kidding" when you got to the end. and i agree that i wish there had been more of the lace reading built in. i wonde if these were things an editor would have asked her to change, if she hadn't self-pubbed first? on the other hand, i imagine she wouldn't have self-pubbed if someone had taken her on in the beginning. it's all very interesting.

C.R. Evers said...

sounds intresting. I may have to check this out, so I skipped your spoilers! :0)

Thanks for the book tip! I'm always on the lookout!

Rena said...

It makes me happy to see that self-published books can do so well.

Also, a little envious, being the last book I read had scratch & sniff stickers. ***sigh***

Kim Kasch said...

I love hearing success stories - it makes me think, "It's possible."

Moonrat: I wondered the same thing - about an editor's input...

Rena: I showed this comment to a new Mom at my office, on my phone. She said, "I'm there. Scratch and sniff is all I have time for."

TattingChic said...

Hi Kim, thanks for your comment on my blog! I haven't heard of this book before and it sounds intriguing! I have never heard of Ipswich lace, so if it is not fabricated (pun intended) for the fictional storyline, then I would have to do some googling (research) to find out more about it! I do know that many laces have been named after the area which they came from. Except for tatting which didn't develop until the 1800's and so we have a lace that is named after what people think it looks like, LOL!

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docspond said...

To find out more about the real tunnels in Salem Brunonia Barry talks about read Salem Secret Underground:The History of the Tunnels in the City and then take the cool Salem walking tour about them. Learn how 144 people hid behind the creation of a park to build a series of tunnels in Salem utilizing the nation's first National Guard to build them so a superior court justice, a Secretary of the Navy, and a bunch of Senators could avoid paying Jefferson's custom duties. Engineered by the son of America's first millionaire.