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3.8 out of 5 stars10
3.8 out of 5 stars
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on September 10, 2015
Enjoyable, well written story, as intricate as a piece of lace. Would have been 5 stars, but I didn't enjoy the ending, don't think it was a good fit for the rest of the story. One of my favourites otherwise.
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on April 18, 2015
Not interested in reading this book
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on September 27, 2014
Not a very good read at all.
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on July 17, 2014
I love this book. I will add this to my favorites. It is magical and feminine but it also tackles issues like depression and domestic violence. This book is so hard to put down.
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on April 3, 2013
Don't get too confident that you get this book. It twists with an unusual ending. Oddly compelling and had me googling to see if lace reading really existed.
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on January 15, 2012
This is a beautifully written book, richly textured and full of depth. It is easy to imagine the isolated islands, the well-developed characters and the mental disturbances experienced by Towner. It was hard to put the book down until the novel approached its conclusion. Sometimes an unexpected twist ending is both unnecessary and disappointing. In this novel there was no need for any twists, especially after the author had written about spousal abuse and mental illness with great skill. I would happily give this book 5 stars if it wasn't for the ending.
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0 of 7 people found the following review helpful
on January 17, 2009
Overall I enjoyed the book and the twist at the end. I'm fascinated by lace and this looked like a promising read. I quite liked the plot, but was annoyed by one thing. Early in the book the author referred to weaving the thread/yarn. One weaves with yarn, one does not weave yarn. A small error, but enough for me to give it fewer stars than I would have, had the author been a little more accurate.
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
on September 16, 2008
Towner Whitney returns to her hometown of Salem, MA from California after the mysterious disappearance of her Aunt Eva. Towner comes from a family of women who can read the future through lace. The family has buried secrets that unfold throughout the novel, including the truth about Towner's twin sister's death.

Towner starts off by stating that her real first name is Sophya. She say's "Never believe me. I lie all the time..."

When I requested an advance reader's copy of this novel, I was under the mistaken impression that it was both about modern day Salem and an historical fiction about the Salem witch Trials. Though the historical was only slightly touched upon, the story did not disappoint!

This richly textured novel paints a vivid portrait of modern day Salem and how self-proclaimed witches live today. With a cast of eccentric characters and themes abound such as abuse, mental illness, witches, forgiveness, etc this is a real page-turner! This is sure to become a classic. Highly recommended!
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6 of 7 people found the following review helpful
on July 20, 2008
The Lace Reader is an incredible, intelligent, exquisitely written book. Brunonia Barry has created a compelling story that, from the first page, immerses the reader in the world of Towner Whitney.

The Lace Reader is as intricate as lace and the reader experiences the book through the interwoven patterns of the stories of Towner, Lyndley, Eva, May, Susan, Angela, the dogs of Yellow Dog Island, Rafferty, Cal, Jack and Beezer. Mystery, intrigue, abuse, love, romance, and history - all abound.

As Towner explains, "Sometimes when you look back, you can point to a time when your world shifts and heads in another direction. In lace reading this is called the "still point." Eva says it's the point around which everything pivots and real patterns start to emerge." The many threads of the story are masterfully woven together to illustrate the emerging patterns in the lives of the characters with an intensity that is unforgettable.

Who cannot be intrigued by the concept of reading lace to see the future?
And as Eva says to Towner, "It wasn't the lace that was wrong, " she always insisted. It was the reader's interpretation that failed." How powerful!

Now, after reading this beautiful book, I see lace everywhere!
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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
on July 18, 2008
In the town of Salem, Massachusetts, innocent women needing to be controlled were once accused of witchcraft. Now Salem plays host to a group of women who openly parade around as witches and a whole tourist industry reenacts the past in broad daylight. A new religious group calling themselves the Calvinists goes about admonishing and threatening witches and unusual or strong women. Towner's great aunt is a lace reader, a woman who can read the future in lace. Her home and the lace reader group become a sanctuary for women escaping their abusive husbands. Together this circle of women find support and strength.

Towner comes back to town after her aunt Eva goes missing, embarking on a journey that puts her past and present life into perspective. She meets Rafferty, the detective intent on solving the case. Together, their perspectives create an aura of mystery to the events of both the past and present. Towner narrates the history of Salem, Salem's current life, her own personal history and her present in a unique pattern as finely interwoven as lace. Each chapter is prefaced by a quote from the Lace Reader's Guide written by Eva describing the art, history and technique of lace reading and the Ipswich lace makers. Towner's life is like the lace with fine threads all interwoven yet converging. The reader follows all the strands in her life, not as a straight direct kind of plot, but as different memories, some reliable and others imagined, all forming the uniqueness of a piece of art---the life of human being. Brunonia Barry's narrative presents a portrait of Towner not as an isolated separate individual but a person with whom other lives converge. Yellow Dog Island's circle of women reinforces this theme on the interconnectedness of individuals.

This novel was incredible. Brunonia Berry does deal with some hard issues like spousal abuse so if you are looking for a light, happy easy read, this is not a good choice. That warning being said, this novel was awesome! THE LACE READER inspires readers to follow with the imagination and go it where it leads. By the end, all the narrative threads and images add up to something spectacular and rich as past and present and landscape, history and the personal all combine. THE LACE READER is a novel built in layers and nuances like a person's life or like the memories in the mind or like the depths of psychology. THE LACE READER has some surprising and poetic twists towards the end. There is no guaranteed happy easily resolved ending --- but the ending has it's own kind of satisfying richness that combines deep emotion, sadness, even trauma into a new beginning and a new sense of freedom. Beautifully poetic!
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