The Lace Reader by Brunonia Barry

Title: The Lace Reader

Author: Brunonia Barry

Hardback: 391 pages

Publish Date: 2006

Publisher: HarperCollins

ISBN: 9780061624766

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 woman… That last part is true.

My little brother, Beezer, who is kinder than I, says the craziness is genetic.  We’re from five generations of crazy, he says, as if it were a badge he’s proud to wear, though he admits that I may have taken it to a new level.

…My mother, May, for example, is a walking contradiction in terms.  A dedicated recluse who (with the exception of her arrests) hasn’t left her home on Yellow Dog Island for the better part of twenty years, May has nevertheless managed to revive a ling-defunct lace-making industry and to make herself famous in the process.  She has gained considerable notoriety for rescuing abused women and children and turning their lives around, giving the women a place in her lace-making business and home-educating their children.  All this from a raging agoraphobic who gave one of her own children to her barren half sister, Emma, in a fit of generosity because, as she said at the time, there was a need, and besides, she had been blessed with a matching set.

-The Lace Reader by Brunonia Barry, pages 3-4

In Brunonia Barry’s The Lace Reader, Towner Whitney lets the reader know from the start that she is an untrustworthy narrator.  Hospitalized after having suffered from depression and hallucinations at the age of 17, she has memory gaps caused from the shock-therapy she’d received as part of treatment.  She tells of her family’s gift of fortunetelling by reading lace, of her mother’s “generosity” in giving her twin sister to her Aunt Emma when they were born, and of the subsequent abuse her sister received from her adoptive father, Cal Boynton.

After being gone from Salem, Mass. for over a decade, Towner finds herself back in her Great Aunt Eva’s house, after Eva has gone missing.  Visions of past happenings, as well as psychic dreams and visits from Eva’s ghost, fill Towner’s present.  She struggles with second-guessing herself as to whether she is going crazy again or if she is really experiencing the surreal events.  The disappearance of Angela Rickey, the girlfriend of Towner’s ex-Uncle, now the Reverend Cal, sets final events into motion that bring everything to a head with some surprising twists that will keep you guessing until the very end.

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To be honest, I have mixed feelings about The Lace Reader.  For the most part, my issues aren’t really with the book itself, but with how it’s affected me after reading it.  Some of the things in the story hits very close to home, and, combined with the bad sinus and chest cold I have, has caused me to have a few nightmares. 

I really enjoyed and appreciated how Barry presented the way reading taught, how having this particular talent affects a person’s everyday life and the way they interact with people, and the way it is talked (or not talked) about within the family.  I’ve never heard of lace reading, though the principal is easy enough to understand.  I prefer tarot cards, but I’ve also read tea leaves, and all these are is a focal point to allow the vision to present itself.  I grew up in a family of “gifted” people, and I myself struggled with the question of sanity.  On page 320, Barry describes this perfectly:

You walk that line… between the real world and the world of the possible.

Towner says that this isn’t a line, but a crack into which she fell long ago.

The Lace Readerby Brunonia Barry is definitely a book meant to be read at an easy pace.  If you rush through it, you will miss a lot of the nuances.  I think I would have to say I liked it;  it is a haunting story.  I give this book 4 out of 5 stars.

TSS ~ Praise and Awards and Pass the Amoxicillin

The Sunday Salon.com

Hello and happy Sunday everyone :-) Thank you for your get-wells last week when I had the stomach flu. I finally got all better from that, only to come down with a bad sinus and chest cold. Lol… I’ll take that over the stomach flu any day, though.

Thank you Wrighty Reads for the cool Zombie Chicken Award, it’s quite a funny pic and description. I passed it along to Bermudaonion, Blodeuedd, Literary Feline, Steph Su, and Chartroose. So then Blodeuedd returned the complement by giving me:

Premio Dardos Award
The Premio Dardos Award

This award is for bloggers who distinguish themselves for showing cultural values, ethics, great and fun writing skills, as well individual values, through their creative writing.

The rules are:
1. To accept and show the distinct image
2. Show the link to the blog from which you were given the award
3. Choose 15 blogs to give the Dardos Award (Premio Dardos)

Okay, so I’m going to slack on #3, because 15 awards? I might as well just point to the blogroll. I would like to pick a few who haven’t received the award and that I do really like. So, here are my nominees:

1.  Devourer of Books~ One of my first bloggie friends, also on LibraryThing :-)

2.  Fashionista Piranha ~ She has a cool layout, interesting giveaways and her reviews offer a slightly different view on things than my own.  It’s always good to receive from those whose thoughts don’t mirror your own, it makes your world a richer place :-)

3.  Fyrefly’s Book Blog~ Another of my first bloggie friends and fellow LTer, Fyrefly’s blog is bright and pretty, and we often match up on how we felt about a book.

4.  Presenting Lenore~ Whenever I think of Lenore’s blog, the first thing that comes to mind is her interview with P. J. Bracegirdle  (don’t know why it sticks in my mind), and the second thing is the lovely box of chocolates and candies she sent me :-D

5.  S. Krishna’s Books ~ I do NOT know where she finds the time to read as much as she does, maybe a clone?  I suppose I shouldn’t tell her that I mooched a copy of Haunting Bombay last night…. :-D

6.  Book Sandwich~ Mrs. Hall is very busy with life, and has moved a couple times…  AND I believe she was one of my very first mooches on BookMooch :-)

7.  Just A (Reading) Fool~  unfinishedperson writes smart post with a dry wit.  Another one of my long-time favorite blogs and fellow LTer :-)

8.  The Book Lady’s Blog~  I just love her blog :-)

I’m going to reserve the remaining 7 until next week :-) That way I can explore some new blogs to visit ;-)

As to my reading this week…..

I spent a week or more on Brisingr, and I’m glad I’m done with that book, it felt like I was reading it forever.  I did manage a few smaller books in, as well. 

Right now I’m about 100 or so pages from the end of The Lace Reader.  I will be glad to be done with it, because it’s been giving me bad dreams.  I don’t know if it’s because of my cold or the book, or a combination of the two, but I’ve been having nightmares since starting it.  AND I never have nightmares, I’m a lucid dreamer and if I’m dreaming something I don’t like, I just change it.  Like most of the nightmares I’ve had for the past4 or 5 years, it always stars my deceased father returning to life.  Ugh.  Not like a zombie or anything, just like he never died.   I’m sure it’s not Ms. Barry’s fault I’m having bad dreams, but still…..

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