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Editorial Reviews

Towner Whitney admits that she's crazy, coming from a long line of eccentrics in her hometown of Salem, Massachusetts. Towner is forced to confront her past and reconstruct her future with the help of a guardian ghost, a modern-day witch, a confused detective, a predator preacher, and fortune-telling lace. Narrator Alyssa Bresnahan uses tone and pacing to make this unusual cast of characters completely believable - even the ghost. In addition, her straightforward voicing of Towner provides this character with the credibility needed to give the surprise ending extra zing. Salem is the perfect setting for this crazy-quilt expedition into the meaning of reality, and Bresnahan is the perfect choice for guiding listeners through this mesmerizing journey of self-discovery.
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Publisher's Summary

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 that spirals into a world of secrets, confused identities, lies, and half-truths, in which 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."
©2006 Brunonia Barry; (P)2008 HarperCollins Publishers
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Critic Reviews

"Barry excels at capturing the feel of smalltown life, and balances action with close looks at the characters' inner worlds. Her pacing and use of different perspectives show tremendous skill and will keep readers captivated all the way through." (Publishers Weekly)
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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful

By Anonymous User on 10-15-08

Difficult but good

Towner is an example of an unreliable narrator. From the beginning you suspect that her judgments of the events from the past and the present are distorted. The ending was a surprise that I didnt see coming. It was riveting as much as it was hard to stomach. I would recommend this book to anyone familiar with the North Shore and Salem lifestyle and history, but only if you can stand a virulent plot thread of meanness, murder, and the foulest of abuse. The authors genius is the tapestry of images that is woven as a back drop to the story. The Eastern Yacht Club, Hamilton Hall, Derby Street, the witches, the tourists, the common, even the restoring of the ship off Pickering Wharf, it is all there and described so well that I could smell the sea air mixed with street vender sausage and peppers.

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7 of 7 people found this review helpful

By K. Iovanna on 08-26-08

Wonderful New England stuff here

The Lace Reader I found to be a wonderful book.
Sophya Whitney as a character was true to her word.I never tell the truth, and Im crazy.
Well Im not so sure about that..Interweaving the New England coastal towns and
Especially Salem, is clearly an inside look we dont normally see, unless you live there.
If you love stories about New England this is a must read.
Brunonia has captured the weaving of the Lace of life in Salem, then and now.
The narrator Alyssa Bresnahan does a fabulous job with the characters, the pace, and the intensity of the telling of it. The opportunity to be transported into another time, and be in the present at the same time is enchanting. I was sorry to have it end.

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4 of 4 people found this review helpful

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful

By MaryAnne on 09-25-09


I entierly agree with the Amazon reviewer who found this book "enjoyable although a little boring". The first half of the novel was an interesting introduction to the town of Salem with it's history of witches and witch hunts but the second didn't keep my attention and I was listening reluctantly.

The lead character of Towner Whitney was endearing, if a little loopy. She has a complicated history, some of which even she does not know. She has left the Salem of her childhood because of a premonition that she had from the lace, and events that took place in her past. Her entwined family still lives there, in amongst the islands. They are all strong swimmers and confident with boats, they also have strong powers of fortune telling. As we gradually get to know these people and their history it becomes apparent that all is not as it first seems.
When one of them goes missing, Towner is forced to return and face her demons.
In some parts the story became a bit confusing, what was real and what dreamed, and the phrase "shape-shifted" was well overused.

I found the lace reading a bit unbelievable and the exerpts from the book penned by Towner's Aunt Eva that opened each chapter were far fetched in places. This was one of the disadvantages of the audiobook, the narrator insisted on reading these exerpts at each new chapter, where I would have skipped them.
Although events come to a head towards the end, this is not a thriller. Nor would I describe it as an historical novel, In my opinion it is a romantic mystery with supernatural overtones.
Well read by the narrator.

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2 of 2 people found this review helpful

By Victoria on 07-19-13

Enjoyable but not excellent

Any additional comments?

This is a well written and vividly told story. Much of it is compelling and it is mostly well paced. I personally found its twists and turns a little predictable which was somewhat disappointing but perhaps this is a reflection of me having read books with similar emotional themes.

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