Towner Whitney admits that she's crazy, coming from a long line of eccentrics in her hometown of Salem, Massachusetts. Towner is forced to confront her past and reconstruct her future with the help of a guardian ghost, a modern-day witch, a confused detective, a predator preacher, and fortune-telling lace. Narrator Alyssa Bresnahan uses tone and pacing to make this unusual cast of characters completely believable - even the ghost. In addition, her straightforward voicing of Towner provides this character with the credibility needed to give the surprise ending extra zing. Salem is the perfect setting for this crazy-quilt expedition into the meaning of reality, and Bresnahan is the perfect choice for guiding listeners through this mesmerizing journey of self-discovery.
Every piece of lace has a secret...
"My name is Towner Whitney. No, that's not exactly true. My real first name is Sophya. Never believe me. I lie all the time...."
Towner Whitney, the self-confessed unreliable narrator of The Lace Reader, hails from a family of Salem women who can read the future in the patterns in lace and who have guarded a history of secrets going back generations. But the disappearance of two women brings Towner home to Salem and the truth about the death of her twin sister to light.
The Lace Reader is a mesmerizing tale that spirals into a world of secrets, confused identities, lies, and half-truths, in which the reader quickly finds it's nearly impossible to separate fact from fiction. But as Towner Whitney points out early on in the novel, "There are no accidents."
©2006 Brunonia Barry; (P)2008 HarperCollins Publishers
"Barry excels at capturing the feel of smalltown life, and balances action with close looks at the characters' inner worlds. Her pacing and use of different perspectives show tremendous skill and will keep readers captivated all the way through." (Publishers Weekly)
Does a wonderful job of taking the listener straight to coastal Massachusetts and into the narrator's head. The flow of the narrative itself is enjoyable and the ending has me itching to hear it all over again.
I do not understand why people write like this. Here is the potential for a very good story, yet it comes off as a series of blurry snapshots. Characters emerge with high drama in the extreme, and come and go with little context or definition, and the chronology is difficult to follow. The lace motif is interesting but is not hardwired to the narrative.
However, there is occasionally enough detail to stay interested, and there is an excellent sense of place. The ambiance of the setting, the feeling of the town and its characters, so linked to the water, go a long way towards sustaining the story.
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New England is always a great venue for a tale, this was an interesting read, unfortunately I am one who likes ends tied up and I was left not quite sure about a lot of the story.
A beautiful and scary story to see how fragile we can all be. As mother of twins raised in Boston it might have resounded a little louder to me but by the end I was in tears. This is not light reading but one you should consider to detox your heart. The only thing I didn't like was the narration. It seemed like a an English lit professor was reading. But I think this was the directors fault and not the narrator as she seems very talented.
A classic plot of troubles and transformation with a cast full of women of all ages and in all stages of life make this a fun read.
I'm a bibliophile since early childhood. Love speculative fiction, odd premises, mystery novels that teach about different places and times.
This is a lovely character study of well funded eccentricities. It's a fascinating look at psychic readers. And ( spoiler alert) a rather bad use of multiple personalities as a plot device. I loved the story and the characters, only to be quite disgusted with the cheap ending. It still was worth the read.
I liked how they wove the pieces together
Maybe, I am still trying to decide if I liked this book or not.
Sometimes her narration was choppy
Likes: Cozy mysteries (cats a plus), personal memoirs,not too dark fantasy, books about the brain. Dislikes: Torture, animal cruelty.
Not sure if I can explain The Lace Reader - it is like it heads off to the Twilight Zone and suddenly there are skirmishes between Witches and "Calvinists" and then there's the Cal Boynton character - an over the top fire and brimstone preacher - he is such a strange character to put in the middle of a modern day novel, but somehow this all works.
Let me try again.... In the book, a woman returns to her hometown of Salem MA after a long absence because of the disappearance of an elderly relative. Once there she becomes involved in some local conflicts (enter witches and Calvinists) and another disappearance. She has a history of psychiatric treatment. Unlike many review I read, I do not object to the switching of time and perspective from section to section and we jump about from past to present, and character to character. And only one time did it kinda of bug me because it happened right in the middle of a scene that you want to know what happens in, but that isn't really a flaw since I just was eager to find out what happened. I would object to switching away to anything right as some bleeding person calls 911. But we didn't stay away too long and we got some answers (or did we?) while we went away from that storyline. I was confused at first by the references to witches, but really they what I'd call Wicca-witches.
The reader was really great. She sounded like a somewhat mentally unstable person - perfect to play our main character Towner Whitney, former psych hospital resident. I read that although the main location, Yellow Dog Island, is fictitious that most of the Salem MA details are indeed accurate.
Once I was done listening I REALLY wanted a paper copy to go back and look at things after a couple big twists at the end. As some reviews remind us, the book begins when the narrator says her name is Towner Whitney, then says actually her real name is Sophya, never believe her she lies all time. However, as you follow things from Towner's perspective it is easy to forget this. You have little reason to question most of her statements most of the time and it is only later twists for the most part that cause you to do so. A number of people really loved this book. It was apparently originally self-published then picked up due to positive word of mouth. I very much liked this book - part love story, part mystery, part psychological thriller, with a dash of historical fiction and a hint of gothic novel and a touch of paranormal. There's even a tea recipe - so hey you've got a cookbook too! Note though there are themes of strong domestic violence in the book which some might find too unpleasant.
It seems a lot of people who disliked this book did so for a reason that really bugs me. Like anything with any sort of twist in it, reviewers compare the book to the movie The Sixth Sense. Nothing has benefited from this comparison, even the poor guy who made that movie likely regrets making his best movie first because most of the criticism for the others is that they aren't The Sixth Sense. So let's all get over it - just because something has a twist of some sort doesn't mean you should compare it to The Sixth Sense. That had an awesome twist, ok fine! Does that mean no other twist can or should exist unless it is equally awesome?
Similarly, one of the most common criticisms I have seen, of this and other books, stems from people giving it 5 star reviews. People can't just read and make a decision. They raise the expectations so ridiculously high if some people have loved a book. I think some people just thrive on being disappointed - they’d probably be disappointed not to get the opportunity to be disappointed in a book a lot of people love. When are people going to understand that hype is just hype? You shouldn't let the hype decide whether you will like a book or not. There. Got that out of my system.
I didn't read this book when it first came out because it sounded sort of chick-lit-ish. I was pleasantly surprised by the quality of the writing and for what outstanding characters Barry created. I wanted to know what had happened to them, was surprised by what did happen and was deeply drawn into the story. Excellent book.
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