Tuesday, October 13, 2009

The Lace Reader

"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.
I am a crazy women...That last part is true."

So begins The Lace Reader by Brunonia Barry. Why couldn't I keep remembering the first couple of lines of the book? It really would have made it so much easier...well, I think it would have. Maybe not.

The story takes place in Salem,MA where Towner returns after learning of her aunt's disappearance. Her female part of the family has a history of being lace readers predicting the future (yes, reading lace, something along the lines of reading tea perhaps), and her aunt Eva, who is missing, has been an active lace reader for years. Towner also has the ability to read lace, but has suppressed it.

Towner's mother, May, runs an abused women's shelter on an island off the coast of Salem.

Towner left home at 17, going as far away as she thought she could...California. Turns out that Towner has quite a history of mental illness. The book focuses a lot on Towner and her twin sister, Lyndley. According to Towner, Lyndley was given away to May's sister and was raised by her and her abusive husband, Cal. Lydley was sexually abused by her father and killed herself in front of Towner. Again, this is according to Towner. There is a group of religious fanatics led by Cal trying to rid Salem of witches. They are suspected to have killed Eva.

There is a surprise twist to the end of the story. However, I think that if I went back and reread the book, it probably is quite evident, but maybe not. It is the kind of book that really needs to be reread in order to understand all that you just read! But I didn't enjoy it enough to want to go back and reread it. Even after I finished it, the ending confused me. That's why I wish that I had kept it in my head the whole time that Towner lies. I think that the mental illness would be more apparent to me a second time. (well, obviously!).

There is a lot of interesting stuff going on in the story...it is very much involved in the history of Salem and the promotion of the perception of witches in Salem. I found that very interesting. I am also curious about lace reading.

Do I recommend the book? Not really. However, I do think that it would make a very interesting book for a book group to discuss!


Bybee said...

I'm kind of torn about reading this book. I like crazy, but...

Anonymous said...

My book group discussed this book recently. Quite a discussion. Some felt like you did. Some loved it. It was interesting to me, but I think I wanted more info on Salem and the witches and less on Towner and her nutty family. It did make for a good book group read.