Monday, October 13, 2008
The Lace Reader by Brunonia Barry
Every gift has a price...
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 which spirals into a world of secrets, confused identities, lies and half-truths where 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.
I received my copy of this book through the Harper/Collins Reading group courtesy of Deanna Mcfadden.
Throughout the book there is a feeling of impending doom that seems to escalate as you traverse the steep slopes of Towner's memories and her life. She remembers so little of her life and seems to have substituted made up memories and dream recollections for the real ones.
All of Salem views her as crazy and in fact she was an inmate of a mental asylum after her twin sister's suicide when they were teenagers. All the women in the Whitney family have been viewed as witches for many generations because of their skill in reading lace.
I found so much of Towner's story to be alien to me starting right where her twin sister was raised by her aunt instead of their mother as Towner and her brother were. Her twin sister Lyndley would come for a visit every summer with her parents and the kids would bond and Lyndley would run half wild, free of any restrictions.
Many years have passed since Lyndley's suicide and Towner returns to Salem because her grandmother Eva has been reported missing. Eva...although her grandfather's second wife, has always been the glue that bound the Whitney family together and Towner was devastated by her disappearance but she also felt compelled to return to Salem for the first time since she had moved away.
Her sister's adopted father Cal is also living in Salem and running a ragtag group of religious fanatics and he spends his life "saving" those whose souls have lost their way.
As the novel picks up in speed there is a tremendous sence of urgency and tension and you are just waiting for a confrontation between Towner and her uncle Cal...you know it is coming. There has to be a reason that Lyndley was scared of her father and Towner was ready to face her sister's demons and her own.
I enjoyed this book and the story but the plot wasn't as fleshed out as I would have wished it to be. There is so much backstory to this book that I would have enjoyed more of that in the plot rather than just from a few of Towner's memories.
I still rate this a 4 out of 5 stars.