The Lace Reader LP: A Novel

Overview

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 ...

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Overview

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.

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Editorial Reviews

People
“A spine-tingler set in Salem...[with] an irresistible pull...The Lace Reader is tailor-made for a boisterous night at the book club.”
Dallas Morning News
“Brunonia Barry has pulled off a major feat with her debut, The Lace Reader: It’s a gorgeously written literary novel that’s also a doozy of a thriller, capped with a jaw-dropping denouement that will leave even the most careful reader gasping.”
New York Times
“What is real in The Lace Reader? What is not? To her credit Ms. Barry makes this story blithe and creepy in equal measure.... And there is much suspense invested in where all the lacunas in Towner’s impressions will lead her...There are clues planted everywhere.”
Chicago Tribune
“A gorgeously written literary novel that’s a doozy of a thriller, capped with a jaw-dropping denouement that will leave even the most careful reader gasping.”
People Magazine
"A spine-tingler set in Salem...[with] an irresistible pull...The Lace Reader is tailor-made for a boisterous night at the book club."
USA Today
“Barry’s modern-day story of Towner Whitney, who has the psychic gift to read the future in lace patterns, is complex but darker in subject matter.... The novel’s gripping and shocking conclusion is a testament to Barry’s creativity.”
Time Magazine
"[A] richly imagined saga of passion, suspense, and magic."
Milwaukee Journal Sentinel
“The Lace Reader unravels a magical, yet tragic family’s tale...Barry has cleverly and delightfully set us up. With one fell swoop, she cuts the last thread, and the characters she has so carefully created unravel to reveal secrets we had not even begun to guess.”
People
“A spine-tingler set in Salem...[with] an irresistible pull...The Lace Reader is tailor-made for a boisterous night at the book club.”
Booklist
“[For] fans of Dennis Lehane’s Shutter Island, Chris Bohjalian’s The Double Bind.”
Rocky Mountain News
“Finely rendered moments make this a novel to savor—a story as textured as it is imaginative... a story that readers will find as lovely as a swatch of handmade lace.”
Minneapolis Star Tribune
“The Lace Reader casts an enthralling spell...As The Lace Reader unspools, we are drawn into a whirling vortex of deceit. Barry untangles these confusing strands of mystery with an artful precision.”
Denver Post
“What makes Brunonia Barry’s compulsively readable debut even more interesting is the spice added by fillips both psychic and supernatural.”
New York Magazine
"Suspenseful and literary catnip-for-book-clubs...while it’s surprisingly gritty for having "lace" in the title, we’re calling this now as the beach read of ’08."
Tulsa World
“A ‘romance’ in the Nathaniel Hawthorne sense of the word a dark tale of sin and guilt that blends the mundane and the fantastic, with a glimmer of redemptive hope at its core that all the Gothic trappings cannot obscure.”
Tampa Tribune
“An engrossing modern-day twist on the classic Gothic novel….the story both astonishes and satisfies. In short, The Lace Reader is great entertainment.”
Raleigh News & Observer
“Barry has written a meditative, lyric novel that in its discursive storytelling style full of digressions and expository sections on interesting facts will appeal to people who enjoy savoring a book one section at a time.”
Washington Post Book World
“Gripping…a marvelously bizarre cast of characters (living and dead) in a uniquely colorful town.”
Christian Science Monitor
“Surprise endings are tough to pull off—too often they aren’t a surprise to anyone but the main character. To Barry’s credit, she genuinely got me.”
Tom Jenks
“Barry’s novel is that rare thing—a literary page-turner worthy for it’s story and for its art.”
Time magazine
“[A] richly imagined saga of passion, suspense, and magic.”
San Antonio Express-News
“Barry does a fantastic job of sketching out her characters. The Whitney women, one and all, are intriguingly real.”
New York magazine
“Suspenseful and literary catnip-for-book-clubs...while it’s surprisingly gritty for having “lace” in the title, we’re calling this now as the beach read of ’08.”
The Olympian
“Barry’s depictions of her characters’ altered states of consciousness are beautifully rendered. And “The Lace Reader” establishes Brunonia Barry as a force...”
Salem Gazette
“The Lace Reader is a page-turner, and the ending is almost as shocking as the film The Sixth Sense.”
People (People Pick)
“A spine-tingler set in Salem...[with] an irresistible pull...The Lace Reader is tailor-made for a boisterous night at the book club.”
Kristin Hannah
“Lovely and captivating...The Lace Reader showcases Barry’s understanding of human nature. A splendid debut novel.”
Marisa de los Santos
“With THE LACE READER, Brunonia Barry plunges us through the looking glass and beyond to a creepy and fascinating world. Prepare to meet strange, brave, bruised, electrically alive women there. Prepare to be riveted by their story and to live under its spell long after you’ve reached its astonishing end.”
Joshilyn Jackson
“Evocative, layered, smart, and astonishing, THE LACE READER is a fever dream of a novel that will haunt me for a long time to come. The Salem, Massachusetts that the Whitney women inhabit is a wild, dark place, and I loved every moment that I spent there.”
Roxanne Price
“Barry weaves a suspenseful tale of witchcraft and dark mystery…Barry’s depictions of time and place are marvelously descriptive.”
Katherine Turman
“Past and present mysteries merge in a fast-moving narrative that builds through a numerous small dramas to a theatrical conclusion.”
Diane Stern
“The Lace Reader challenges the very notion of reality. A compelling, fast-action page turner. A terrific read!”
Milwaukee Journal Sentinel
"The Lace Reader unravels a magical, yet tragic family’s tale...Barry has cleverly and delightfully set us up. With one fell swoop, she cuts the last thread, and the characters she has so carefully created unravel to reveal secrets we had not even begun to guess."
The Olympian
"Barry’s depictions of her characters’ altered states of consciousness are beautifully rendered. And "The Lace Reader" establishes Brunonia Barry as a force..."
Raleigh News & Observer
"Barry has written a meditative, lyric novel that in its discursive storytelling style full of digressions and expository sections on interesting facts will appeal to people who enjoy savoring a book one section at a time."
Salem Gazette
"The Lace Reader is a page-turner, and the ending is almost as shocking as the film The Sixth Sense."
People (People Pick)
“A spine-tingler set in Salem...[with] an irresistible pull...The Lace Reader is tailor-made for a boisterous night at the book club.”
Chicago Tribune
"A gorgeously written literary novel that’s a doozy of a thriller, capped with a jaw-dropping denouement that will leave even the most careful reader gasping."
Tampa Tribune
"An engrossing modern-day twist on the classic Gothic novel….the story both astonishes and satisfies. In short, The Lace Reader is great entertainment."
Denver Post
"What makes Brunonia Barry’s compulsively readable debut even more interesting is the spice added by fillips both psychic and supernatural."
Washington Post Book World
"Gripping…a marvelously bizarre cast of characters (living and dead) in a uniquely colorful town."
Booklist
"[For] fans of Dennis Lehane’s Shutter Island, Chris Bohjalian’s The Double Bind."
Rocky Mountain News
"Finely rendered moments make this a novel to savor—a story as textured as it is imaginative... a story that readers will find as lovely as a swatch of handmade lace."
Time magazine
“[A] richly imagined saga of passion, suspense, and magic.”
San Antonio Express-News
"Barry does a fantastic job of sketching out her characters. The Whitney women, one and all, are intriguingly real."
Christian Science Monitor
"Surprise endings are tough to pull off—too often they aren’t a surprise to anyone but the main character. To Barry’s credit, she genuinely got me."
New York magazine
“Suspenseful and literary catnip-for-book-clubs...while it’s surprisingly gritty for having “lace” in the title, we’re calling this now as the beach read of ’08.”
Tulsa World
"A ‘romance’ in the Nathaniel Hawthorne sense of the word a dark tale of sin and guilt that blends the mundane and the fantastic, with a glimmer of redemptive hope at its core that all the Gothic trappings cannot obscure."
Minneapolis Star Tribune
"The Lace Reader casts an enthralling spell...As The Lace Reader unspools, we are drawn into a whirling vortex of deceit. Barry untangles these confusing strands of mystery with an artful precision."
Dallas Morning News
"Brunonia Barry has pulled off a major feat with her debut, The Lace Reader: It’s a gorgeously written literary novel that’s also a doozy of a thriller, capped with a jaw-dropping denouement that will leave even the most careful reader gasping."
USA Today
"Barry’s modern-day story of Towner Whitney, who has the psychic gift to read the future in lace patterns, is complex but darker in subject matter.... The novel’s gripping and shocking conclusion is a testament to Barry’s creativity."
New York Times
"What is real in The Lace Reader? What is not? To her credit Ms. Barry makes this story blithe and creepy in equal measure.... And there is much suspense invested in where all the lacunas in Towner’s impressions will lead her...There are clues planted everywhere."
People
“A spine-tingler set in Salem...[with] an irresistible pull...The Lace Reader is tailor-made for a boisterous night at the book club.”
Roxanne Price
"Barry weaves a suspenseful tale of witchcraft and dark mystery…Barry’s depictions of time and place are marvelously descriptive."
Katherine Turman
"Past and present mysteries merge in a fast-moving narrative that builds through a numerous small dramas to a theatrical conclusion."
Marisa de los Santos
"With THE LACE READER, Brunonia Barry plunges us through the looking glass and beyond to a creepy and fascinating world. Prepare to meet strange, brave, bruised, electrically alive women there. Prepare to be riveted by their story and to live under its spell long after you’ve reached its astonishing end."
Kristin Hannah
"Lovely and captivating...The Lace Reader showcases Barry’s understanding of human nature. A splendid debut novel."
Diane Stern
"The Lace Reader challenges the very notion of reality. A compelling, fast-action page turner. A terrific read!"
Tom Jenks
"Barry’s novel is that rare thing—a literary page-turner worthy for it’s story and for its art."
Joshilyn Jackson
"Evocative, layered, smart, and astonishing, THE LACE READER is a fever dream of a novel that will haunt me for a long time to come. The Salem, Massachusetts that the Whitney women inhabit is a wild, dark place, and I loved every moment that I spent there."
Publishers Weekly

In Barry's captivating debut, Towner Whitney, a dazed young woman descended from a long line of mind readers and fortune tellers, has survived numerous traumas and returned to her hometown of Salem, Mass., to recover. Any tranquility in her life is short-lived when her beloved great-aunt Eva drowns under circumstances suggesting foul play. Towner's suspicions are taken with a grain of salt given her history of hallucinatory visions and self-harm. The mystery enmeshes local cop John Rafferty, who had left the pressures of big city police work for a quieter life in Salem and now finds himself falling for the enigmatic Towner as he mourns Eva and delves into the history of the eccentric Whitney clan. 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. (Oct.)

Copyright 2007 Reed Business Information
Library Journal

This initially selfpublished first novel revolves around a family of women in Salem, MA, who can read the future in a piece of Ipswich lace. Protagonist Sophia "Towner" Whitney is an admitted liar with a history of mental illness, and listeners quickly learn to question her perspective. Between Towner's confused narration and the inclusion of other characters' points of view, the plot is sometimes hard to follow, but readers will enjoy the suspenseful (albeit somewhat implausible) ending. Actress/narrator Alyssa Bresnahan (White Oleander) seamlessly and skillfully blends together the many aspects of this intriguing novel, which has garnered a great deal of advance attention (see "Hot Tickets," LJ7/08, p. 34). Recommended for public libraries. [Also recorded by Recorded Bks. 10 CDs. Library ed. unabridged. ISBN 9781436140966. $123.75; Playaway® digital. $61.75; audio clip available through www.harpercollins.com; the Morrow hc received a starred review, LJ6/15/08.-Ed.]
—Karen Fauls-Traynor

Kirkus Reviews
In an ambitious debut, a wounded heroine returns home to confront ghosts and hallucinations, bereavements and beatings, a hellfire preacher with a witch-hunting flock and a murky family history with many missing pieces. It's been 15 years since Towner Whitney, descended from a long line of Salem eccentrics, fled the town, following her twin sister's death and her own incarceration in a psychiatric hospital where she received shock therapy after claiming to have killed vicious Cal Boynton, whose abuse left his wife brain-damaged and blind. Now, Towner's back, summoned by the disappearance of her great-aunt Eva, preeminent lace reader (it's a skill similar to reading tea leaves, but using the intricate hand-made fabric instead), whose body is soon found at sea. Eva's funeral is disrupted by the Calvinists, a fearsome religious group led by supposedly reformed Cal, currently suspected of further abuse or possibly worse by the local cop, Detective Rafferty, an ex-alcoholic from New York who starts to date Towner. Over-egged pudding doesn't even begin to describe the torrent of content and genres in Barry's first novel, which interweaves wise and half-crazed women, a gothic past involving a suicidal leap from a storm-tossed cliff and an occasionally thriller-ish present which includes Towner and a pregnant teen making a superhuman underwater escape from a burning building. Unusual and otherworldly, this is a blizzard of a story which surprisingly manages to pull together its historical, supernatural and psychiatric elements. A survivor's tale of redemption, reached via a long and winding road. Agent: Rebecca Oliver/Endeavor
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780061668265
  • Publisher: HarperCollins Publishers
  • Publication date: 7/29/2008
  • Edition description: Large Print Edition
  • Pages: 544
  • Product dimensions: 6.00 (w) x 8.90 (h) x 1.30 (d)

Meet the Author

Brunonia Barry

Born and raised in Massachusetts, Brunonia Barry lives in Salem with her husband and their beloved golden retriever, Byzantium.

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  • Posted July 18, 2009

    more from this reviewer

    Wonderful New Author!

    The Lace Reader held me enthralled -- I could hardly put the book down. The plot was complicated, yet easy to follow, and in my experience totally original. I hope Brunonia Barry will write more books, and I really look forward to them.

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