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The Lace Reader
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Customer Reviews:

  • i loved this book so much!
    This was a fabulous read!! I was sad when it was over. It kept me hanging on until the last page..and even after I was doen I was still hanging on....more info
  • falls apart at the end
    At first a compelling narrative with a carefully wrought sense of place, "The Lace Reader" degenerates into irredeemable melodrama in its final chapters....more info
  • blah, then good, then, huh?
    I just finished this book and figured now would be the time to comment. I had trouble committing to the characters and style in the beginning, finding the book alarmingly reminiscent of overly theatrical historical fiction with hints of the romance genre thrown in. Then, something changed; it suddenly became more sophisticated, and multilayered, and I was encouraged enough to read til the end, at which point the whole damn thing just crashed and burned. Previous reviewers have alluded to this, and I won't repeat their words, but suffice to say that the allover effect is disappointing. There was some real substance to the book, and unfortunately it was not sustained. I'd suggest taking it out from the library so that you don't regret paying for it....more info
  • Good Story - So So Writing
    I was anxious to see what all the hype was about this book and, since I love books set in, or about Salem, MA, this was an easy choice for me.

    The beginning of the story hooked me right away:

    "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."

    As the book opens, Towner, is returning home to Salem and fictional Yellow Dog Island after the disappearance of her Great Aunt Eva, possibly due to foul play. Towner is descended from a long line of psychics who use Ipswich lace to foretell one's future.

    Without giving too much away, I'll just say that there were many twists in this story. I found parts of the story to be a little slow going. In the end, I thought the author did a good job in closing all the gaps.

    A good read overall....more info
  • Disappointing
    I was so looking forward to reading this book. I live in Marblehead and I enjoy reading about Salem and its history of witchcraft. But I was disappointed. While I enjoyed the local detail (I will never again look at the Roger Conant statue without searching for that perfect angle), I agree with other reviewers here who found the book convoluted and plodding, an average read. The story felt a tumble and jumble of details and it did not grab me until about 150 pages in. The ending reminded me of Chris Bohjalian's THE DOUBLE BIND. Part of my problem may have been that I read THE LACE READER right after I finished THE HERETIC'S DAUGHTER, a tautly written novel about the Salem witch trials. I loved THE HERETIC'S DAUGHTER, and I think Barry's book suffered in comparison....more info
  • A long slog--with patches of promise
    I wanted to like this book. I read most of it (skipping a little in the middle). But the theme kept eluding me. Was it a diary of an eccentric New Englander? History of domestic violence and child abuse? A love story with confusing flip flops of desire? A updated treatise on Salem witchcraft? A metaphysical puzzle using lace-making as a symbol -- of something?

    Too much work to make sense of it all. I like concrete stories. Unlike others who have posted reviews, I did like the twist at the end. You really have to be into female bonding to get along in this book....more info
  • Disappointing
    The author waits until the last few pages to resolve all the mysteries of the book, although there are a few things that remain unanswered. Since there are themes of witchcraft and the supernatural, I was hoping for more mysterious occurrences or reading the future with lace, but there is actually very little about lace reading, which disappointed me. The writing style reminded me of those sort of detective/cop thrillers with the quick delivery and abbreviated dialogue which did not seem to fit the theme of the novel. There are also a lot of unnecessary incidents which lend no weight to the story. It also has the problem of mostly being told in the first person by the main character, which doesn't work with the ending, I don't want to give a spoiler, so I can't really say why, but if someone is telling something that happened in the past , they would be thinking the same way the whole time, I can't be any more specific without ruining it. Why would no one say anything to her about certain misperceptions throughout the entire novel? I did think that the area around Salem sounds intriguing, though....more info
  • Weaving a good story
    I was instantly pulled into the story of this book. Even though the story weaves from here to there, you find yourself compelled to find out what happens to Towner. A well layered novel, that gives complex understanding into the characters. A great book....more info
  • Disappointingly Average - For Young Readers Only
    I'm so disappointed that I didn't like this. I had a very long train trip from the mid-Atlantic to New England recently and thought this book would not only be perfect given the location, but (thanks to the buzz) be compelling enough to make the hours fly by unnoticed. Imagine how disappointed I was to find it was so easy (and at times preferable) to put it down! Wow was this hyper-hyped. It was average enough of a read I suppose... the mystical bits about the lace and the idea of some of the Salem locations were interesting, but I was also stuck on a train and had little else to occupy my time. I'm sure I'd have put it down and never finished it if I'd been reading it at home. I disliked the main character almost immediately and found all the other characters one-dimensional and too numerous. It seemed in need of editing, and the constantly-alternating POV was annoying. In general I felt like I was reading a story written by someone in high school -- the romance was that immature/corny and predictable! I can't imagine any mature woman finding the relationship between the main character and the knightly cop intriguing; it was very "Nancy Drew and Ned" for the college-bound. And the worst part: I knew I was reading some tale within a tale given the first two lines in the book (an adolescent attempt at foreshadowing), so I had to force myself to pick it back up and finish the last quarter of it, only to be proven correct. I can't say this was a complete waste, but it's not something I'd recommend to anyone over 18....more info
  • Couldn't finish it
    I'm stunned that a former screenwriter would start her novel with a cliched, boring dream scene. It was downhill from there, with indistinct characters and much overwriting--scenes that dragged on without making a point. I put it down when I was about 70 pages in, with no desire to pick it up again. This could have been a riveting subject, but it doesn't live up to the promise--by a long shot....more info
  • What ??!!
    From the cover of this book, to the initial description and title, it seemed like it would be a unique and good read. By page 87 I found myself wondering why I ever thought that in the first place. The person who designed the cover is a marketing genious, yes - covers sell books. I finally finished the book and can't be quite as complimentary to the editor. I think there could have been a good story there, but it really needed to be edited down. Why does the reader need 100+ pages of useless drivel? Really annoying.
    ...more info
  • An awesome Halloween read
    I don't know how to review this without laying out a long list of spoilers, which would ruin it for you. I'd never heard of this author and wasn't expecting anything moving. This book was an awesome surprise. It's the tale of a flawed heroine and the town of Salem. The premise could have taken place yesterday or three hundred years ago. It does have a touch of Hawthorne to it, and that's all I'll say on that. It's engaging - I read the whole thing in a two day marathon session that was as rewarding as it was exhausting. The book is written in several styles - first person, first person omniscient, and third person which keeps the pace flowing for all 400 pages. Most of all, I enjoyed being back in Salem. Ms. Barry captures the spirit of a quirky society that thrives off tourism and history. There are so many cultures that converge in Salem. Somehow she has touched on all of them without resorting to stereotype or judgment. Her characters are refreshingly multi-dimensional.

    If you plan on visiting Salem, or want to know more about it through a wonderful piece of moving fiction - do get this book. This is also a wonderful testament to the strengths and flaws of non-conformity. I look forward to more from Brunonia Barry. She's guaranteed to end up a favorite....more info
  • Puzzled
    I am puzzled by the good reviews of this book. There really was not much of a story there. Every minor plot, in my mind was left hanging and incomplete. I can't say more without giving it all away but none of it made sense in the end.

    I gave it two stars because it was an interesting read but without much substance....more info
  • Beware the buzz
    I found this book verbose, hard to get into, and then disappointing. It's another instance of taking the buzz with a grain of salt. Best for genre readers, I think, people who like the sudden twist formula. I also agree with another reviewer that some younger readers might like it better. I can see liking this as an older teen. ...more info
  • Astigmatic Reading Lace
    The premise is interesting enough: a back history involving the Salem witches, the curiosity in lace reading ... and two women who disappeared. But the interest dies soon because the novel goes on and on and on and on and on ... like an astigmatic view of trying to figure out a story from a convolution of words and figures. It must be the feeling of trying to read lace ... while groping for your reading glasses.

    The novel could have been more interesting but is a verbose disappointment....more info
  • An Amazing Talent
    The imagination of Brunonia Barry seems limitless--from it she creates a whole history and methodology of divination (lace reading is her brainchild), then weaves it through a complex family tale full of surprises. This book is extremely difficult to put down once you dive into it--the cast of characters could keep a bookclub busy through many pots of coffee. Especially the late in the game major plot twist and what it means for all of the characters. It's set in modern Salem, with all of it's newagey, witchcraft-as-tourism quirkyness. In fact, Barry originally self published this book for limited distribution in that area. It's not surprising that it caught the eye of both Hollywood and the publishing industry. It isn't often that a debut novel hits this hard, but word of mouth alone is going to put this one on the bestseller lists for a long time, let alone the ambitious marketing the publisher is doing in print and online. ...more info
  • Impressive and interesting!
    I was impressed with this book. I enjoyed reading it and it kept my interest. The ending is great - well written and surprising. I recommend this to anyone who wants a read that is not ordinary and has a great element of surprise. ...more info
  • Interesting
    Although the book was a little slow in taking off for me, overall I enjoyed it. A little far-fetched at times, the plot twist at the end pulled it all together for me. Not a must read, but definitely enjoyable....more info
  • I loved it
    I loved this book! It was a mystery, love story and fantasy all in one....more info
  • It made me sad that it was not what I expected; but it was good
    The lacking part of this book was my projection of what the book was about and the lack of lace reading incite, materials, etc really put me off. It is a good story, just not my kinda' story, and very well written with wonderful characters. Local detail was great. My disappointment was my preconceived preception....more info
  • So much time wasted
    The Lace Reader CD [AUDIOBOOK] [UNABRIDGED] I should have gone looking for the abridged version. This book went on and on and on. I am a therapist and this sounded interesting, but I am so glad I got it from the library. I have slogged on only in order to get to the end. I do not like the voice of the person who is reading because it is reedy and adolescent for an alleged adult, but I perserved as I am interested in mystics, psychics,etc, and I wanted to hear if and how Towner healed herself. What a waste of time. The only person I liked in the book was Eva, and it begins with her death (not a spoiler). ...more info
  • A Disjointed Story with a Shocking Twist
    Brunonia Barry's "The Lace Reader" is a complicated novel. It tells the story of Towner, a thirty something year old woman who has returned to Salem, MA from California after her beloved great aunt has gone missing. The reader quickly discovers Towner fled Salem after a series of traumatic events, which she begins reliving soon after coming to town. A series of violent events begin happening to people close to Towner, and it soon looks like Towner herself may be the next victim. A fantastic twist at the end of the novel leaves everyone--including the reader--in shock at the magic and mystery that surrounds old Salem.

    "The Lace Reader" is a hard novel to get into, and then to follow. Three characters narrate different parts of the novel, the story does not follow a linear time sequence, and several of the characters are constantly changing their version of the story. On top of these obstacles, Barry's language is choppy and often confusing making it hard for the reader to follow the complicated story line. This novel would have benefited from a good editor and some enhancement of the central storyline, which at times becomes so vague the reader isn't sure what's happening.

    Overall, the story in the "The Lace Reader" was interesting, but too disjointed to really like. I would recommend this book to people interested in Salem or in witchcraft, but not necessarily to the casual reader....more info