Thursday, September 18, 2008

The Lace Reader by Brunonia Barry (a review)

The Lace Reader by Brunonia BarryIt’s about time that I add my voice to the chorus of praise this book has rightly received. The Lace Reader by Brunonia Barry is the story of Towner Whitney, the self-proclaimed unreliable narrator of this tale, who returns to Salem, Massachusetts, after 15 years of self-imposed exile when her beloved Great-Aunt Eva goes missing. Barry has crafted a richly layered novel that deals with difficult subjects in an unusual and original way. The ghostly/witchy elements of the story are handled well and are believable within the context of the novel. I also loved the excerpts from Eva’s book The Lace Reader’s Guide, which added authenticity to this fascinating tale. In addition, Barry’s descriptions of Salem and her historical overview of the town have inspired me to plan a visit there some day.* My only complaints about the book are that the romance was a tad predictable and the shift from the main narrator to a secondary one felt abrupt to me. Plus I wish I hadn’t been able to see the main twist coming—though it’s so well done, it’s hard to feel disappointed about this. This is definitely a book that merits a reread! If you enjoyed The Thirteenth Tale by Diane Setterfield, then you will likely enjoy this one as well.

To read what others thought, visit these blogs:
A Writer’s PenConsider the DaffodilBooking MamaBoston BibliophileDevourer of BooksJoy’s BlogShe Is Too Fond of BooksSo Many Precious Books, So Little TimeUnputdownables

The Lace Reader was nominated for a BBAW award for Best Book Published in 2008.

You can read the first chapter of the book on The New York Times site.

Thank you to Harper Collins for sending me this book to review.

*You can also read Dawn’s post (at She Is Too Fond of Books) about the Lace Reader tour she did.


  1. I loved this book also. It's one I will keep and maybe reread someday.

  2. I've been hearing about this a lot lately. It sounds really good.

  3. Just a heads up, I am giving away my ARC of "The Lace Reader" on my blog. Open until Sept. 30th, the link is here. Thanks.

  4. I bought this book recently and can't wait until I have a chance to read it. I've heard so many good things about it.

  5. Avis, I've always enjoyed reading about the history of Salem. It sounds like it is incorporated into this novel in an interesting way.

    Thanks for the review and all the links. I've been meaning to read Dawn's account of her tour since I saw it mentioned in her BBAW interview.

  6. I loved this book too and I didn't think of it at the time but it is very much like The Thirteenth Tale...sort of suspenseful and creepy yet very well written.

    I am suggesting it for my book group to read next year. We pick our books once a year so I am making my list now.

  7. Thanks, Dar, Tanabata, Icedream, Anna, Shana and Ti for your comments. I'm definitely going to want to reread this one, so I guess I'll have to buy myself another copy!