The hype by critics on the back cover of this book do it a great disservice. The writing is good, the character development solid, and the pacing okay. However, to read the back cover one would imagine the contents to be more exciting, more intense, and more hair-raising than they actually turn out to be. If you like to read slow-paced, character driven fiction and/or enjoy the "chick-flick" genre then you will like this book. However, you will not find an "astonishing end," or "a wild, dark place," or anything "creepy or fascinating" about the book (all things promised on the dust jacket). What you will find is a mix of death, psychic visions/readings, and abused women all combined in a seacoast town known for the eccentricities of its people.
I finished this book last night and I am still having trouble putting into words what I think of it. There are parts of the book I like and it seems to want to take off to be a good book, then there are other parts it drags so much I was beginning to give up. I stuck it out though and all I can say is this, I am not sure what the hype is about this book, to me you could take all the good parts that really mean something to the story and have about 70 pages the rest is filler.
This is a VERY good book! While I did have trouble relating to the characters early on, that was resolved relatively soon, and I felt deeply connected with them as I continued to read this unique and interesting story. Well written, with an intriguing plot, I highly recommend this book.
Towner Whitney is forced to return to Salem MA, after an absence of almost 15 years, when her Great-Aunt Eva goes missing. Once she is back in Salem Towner soon finds out that she will need to confront the ghosts of her past in order to move on into her future. Through a series of flashbacks and memories the reader finds out that the Whitney family is not quite what they seem. The story is filled with a cast of eccentric characters from Towner's mother May who refuses to step a foot off the island she lives on, to her uncle Calvin who has been saved and has started his own religious cult at a local campground, to a collection of witches who seem to have gravitated to Salem because of it's historical past.
The writing in this story is excellent and there were many features that made this book appeal to me. Each chapter is prefaced with a quote from The Lace Reader's Guide by Eva Whitney which is a convention I found appealing in itself. However, these little excerpts do more than just introduce the tone of each chapter, They end up providing important foreshadowing of what is to come later in the book. Meanwhile, the true story of Towner's family is revealed to the reader slowly, memory by painful memory, as Towner actually draws her past back to her consciousness out from the mental "lock-box" where she has stored all her Salem memories away. Then, one final twist at the very end of the story makes the reader to want to go back and start the story all over again, re-reading it with the new eyes.
This is a great book that will keep you guessing throughout.
The Lace Reader is not Great Literature (thank god), but I did enjoy it very much. It's a little more thriller-y than my usual thing, however it's not exactly a thriller either. I did not see that *particular* big twist at the end coming though there were more minor plot twists I did anticipate, which was fine. I'd been through a string of unsatisfactory books recently and this ended it. In short, my reading palate has been satisfactorily cleansed by this book. It is not as sorbet-y as that metaphor might lead one to believe--it's got more gravitas than a sorbet--but it was certainly refreshing. I'd recommend it as a good summer beach read but with more heft than that might might ordinarily imply. It's not a potato chip read, more like pita chips and hummous. Snacky, tasty, but not unhealthy or empty calories.
Now that I think about it, it kind of reminds me of The Time Traveler's Wife for reasons that I cannot quite pin down in my own mind. Partly it's that it is mainstream fiction with a little skid into the speculative/paranormal realm, not enough to scare the normals of course, just enough to make things more interesting. I am a sucker for a sympathetic but unreliable narrator, and Barry's book has that in spades. I predict good things for Ms. Barry if she can keep this up.
"The Lace Reader" is a story of a woman named Towner who is faced with her great-aunt's disappearance, her mother's insanity, and her brother's wedding. Out of all of this comes a story that is laced with mystery, deception, discovery, death, and life.
Barry weaves the story together though the eyes of Towner, but also through the townspeople of Salem, Mass where the story takes place. "The Lace Reader" certainly does an excellent job of promoting tourism to Salem. It is a place I've always wanted to go, but now I want to go even more.
"The Lace Reader" is a fiction novel that brings a bit of the mystery novel into it as well. There is definitely a surprising revelation at the end that causes you to re-think the whole book. The reason I did not rate "The Lace Reader" higher is because I never got that feeling of I-can't-put-the-book-down. I was curious, but never felt so into the story that I couldn't put it down if the phone or doorbell rang.
"The Lace Reader" will be released on July 29, 2008. I recommend that you check it out. It is an enjoyable read.
But, I will admit, that even months after I read it, I still think about it sometimes, and wonder about the plot twists.
I hadn't read any reviews of this book, so I didn't know what to expect. I didn't expect to love this book. It's a rare occasion when I read a book that I hate to put down and fills my mind until I can get back to it. I didn't expect to cry at the end and I didn't expect to feel like I had been knocked off my feet. I know that I will go back and read it again sometime soon. An unexpected treasure - I highly recommend.
I had such high hopes for this book. I really thought it would delve into at least a fictional account of the Salem Witch Trials. It may have, but I am half way through this book and have given up! I really enjoy authors who write with style, but Ms. Barry's style is too elusive and complicated to enjoy.
I had very high expectations of this book and was sadly dissapointed. Parts of the story made me chuckle, but for the most part I just wanted to quit reading it altogether. It is unlike me to finish a book, so I muttled through this finding it quite boring, unbelievable and wordy. The idea is great, but the entire book really falls short in my opinion.
The story is about a young woman returning home to Salem after being away for 15 years. All the women in her family are thought to be witches by many of the members in the community. She returns to deal with the disappearance of a favorite aunt and also tries to come to terms with the death of her twin sister.
The ending almost made me cry, I found it very moving. The authors use of changing the points of view was confusing to me, but ultimately added to the story.
The art of lace reading is interesting and I was surprised to find out that it was something the author made-up. It fits very well into the story and played a major role in the lives of the characters.
I loved the book!
I did not care for this book. The story seemed disjointed to me. At one point, the main character stated that she was crazy. That's what I felt about the whole book. It just never grabbed ny attention. The author seemed to jump from one thing to another with no real flow. I could not finish it. I read about 140-150 pages to give it a fair shot. It just never went 'bang'.
From all the reviews I heard about this book I was ecpecting a great read totally diffrent from what the book actually ended up being.I wasnt crazy for this story I found it a bit strange and I found myself bored in some parts of the story and some parts I found to be interested in. I also found myself stuggling to read the story.Like most books I read I cant wait to pick up the book and read it with this one if I put the book down I wasnt thrilled to pick it up right away and continue reading.The name of the book is deceiving since it really isnt about a person reading lace even though there is a few refrences in the book about it.I did finish the book only because I wanted to see what happned,
The Lace Reader is one of those books that is so weird that you can't put it down because your trying to figure out what is going on. The setting is Salem and the story involves witches, lace readers and split personalities. It is somewhat historical and the characters are very interesting. There are definitely many twist and turns in the story line.
The story is complex. As the reader you are not quite sure of understanding everything that is happening (and this is done on purpose - you will understand in the end). I would say it would appeal more to women then to men.
There is a manuscript that was written by Aunt Eva, and parts from that manuscript are read at the beginning of some of the chapters. The manuscript talks about the Lace Reading - so the 'readings' are mentioned but they are not the main focus of the story.
The author describes modern day Salem and how the witch theme has taken over much of the atmosphere of Salem, MA -- even though being a witch in the 1800s lead to the death of many people, tourists flock to Salem to 'celebrate' this tragic event. That is not the main theme of this book but it does wind around in the plot.
I liked the story.
Since I listened to the story from the audiobook, I would like to comment on the narrator. As anyone who has listened to a number of 'books on tape', you know that some of the narrators are better than others. I thought that Alyssa Bresnahan did a very good job and I would definitely listen to other books that she has read.
This novel is beautiful and heartbreaking... It's inspirational and moving together. If you're looking for a complex plot that is part lost love story, part murder mystery, and part spook thriller give this a try! I love how the author brings the reader to Salem and brings the characters to life. Great read!! Highly recommended!!
Tidbits are given about the characters' lives that hint towards certain events, but you just have to be patient to find out more details. I kept going back to re-read pages to see if I had missed something. After the climactic ending, I was left with tons of unanswered questions.
If you like a book that tidies up all loose ends and explains everything, this book's not for you.
If you like stories that have a dream-like disjointed quality to them, you may like this book.
I did enjoy the whole setting in Salem aspect as well as the descriptions of living close to the sea, otherwise, I did not care for this book.
I found the Lace Reader an interesting book, as it details some infamous history of Salem & areas in MA intertwined with the story of Lace Reading. I don't know if there is such an art as lace reading, but the author makes it easy to believe it's possible. She brings Yellow Dog Island to life as well, even tho it is a fictional place. It has made me more interested in the history of Salem & of the witch hunts & trials in early America.
I thoroughly enjoyed this book. I found that presenting the story from different points of view gave you hints into the mystery, and also made the story mroe interesting. It does have a surprise ending, and it is hinted at in the first paragraph, where Sophya admits she is not a very reliable source. The characters are believable, and the fact that they can 'read lace' or see into the future adds a supernatural dimension, one that I enjoy in books. Highly recommended.
The ending was a bit confusing and it was hard to make sense of. I actually went back to certain parts of the book to re-read them so I could get what the author was trying to convey. Other than that, it's an engaging and interesting book. The characters, even minor ones, are well portrayed and the way Barry describes the town of Salem and the surroundings so well, a clear picture is drawn in your head. I think the realism Barry gives to characters and setting is the best part of the book. Even if the plot might seem bumpy and a bit improbable, it becomes believable in the circumstances.
Set in modern day Salem, MA, The Lace Reader tells the story of the Whitney family. You are introduced to Towner Whitney, the main character who comes back to Salem, MA after many years because her great aunt has gone missing. You learn that all the Whitney women are "readers" and slowly get introduced to each one. The novel unravels the truth behind many Whitney "family secrets" including many that Towner has herself. Halfway through the book you start wondering what is real and what isn't. This is not a story about the Salem Witch Trials or anything witchy really. There are Salem witchy elements to it as well as elements relating to mental illness and domestic violence. A touching story.
A compelling read about a family of strong and troubled women who live in and near Salem, MA. I wish I had read this instead of listening to it. The reader did a fine job, but I think I missed some things. I will definitely be thinking about this one for a while. There are dark themes and issues along with wonderful imagery and writing.
I grew up in Salem and thoroughly enjoyed reading about my city. My husband and I actually stopped at the statue of Roger Conant last week to see if what was in the book was true. I loved this book and would recommend even if you aren't from Salem.
Oh, I enjoyed this book quite a bit! It really surprised me how much I really liked it by then, considering I wasn't that impressed in the beginning. It started off a little slow, with too many points-of-view, and too many dangling mysteries, but as the story unraveled, I ended up falling in love with it. The ending twist completely took me by surprise, and I certainly didn't see it coming! It didn't make perfect sense, though... and there were still some loose threads by the end. However, I really did like it and will certainly keep an eye out for her other books! I really enjoyed the role of the golden retrievers.
She tried to hard to be mysterious and I found it very difficult to follow. The changes in points of view were distracting, the chapters were too short or too long which broke up the continuity of the story.
I read this book because of all the hype surrounding it, and I'd read glowing reviews about it. I had high hopes for it... WOW, was I ever disappointed! I did not like this one at all... I found the book to be extremely confusing. It goes back and forth between flashbacks (real & imagined by the main character, who appears to have quite a bit of mental instability), so it was hard to follow what was going on in the story. There is a theme of abuse throughout the book as well, so if you don't like that topic, then this one probably isn't for you. I also never liked the heroine of the story, as I never really figured out "who she was". I closed the book feeling let-down and confused. What an utter waste of time.
I was really looking forward to reading this book. It came highly recommended by a friend, however I found that it dragged for about two thirds of the story. Only at the end did the action start and things started to happen. If you can hang on until the end, it will certainly pay off, but I just wish I didn't have to keep coaxing myself not to give up on it.
Even after finishing this book, Im not sure how I feel about it. The concept was great and I was engrossed, but there was something off for me. Maybe its because in the first paragraph, Towner, the narrator, tells us shes a liar and not to believe what she says, which made me not trust her, obviously. That made me nervous, for lack of a better word, throughout the book and I ended up reading the ending while I was still in the middle of the book. So, I ruined the suprise ending for myself, but I could see the clues that led up to it throughout the rest of the book.
This author started the book with some great ideas but they never quite came together in any way that made much sense. To me her writing was schizophrenic - bobbing from one idea to another. Perhaps she needed a better editor. I cant imagine how things this poorly written ever get published.
This reminded me a lot of "Behind the Scenes at the Museum" by Kate Atkinson, but much darker and the narrator is far more unreliable. I liked the setting and some of the characters, but I wouldn't say this is a 'must read.'
I really enjoyed this book. The author painted a really colorful picture of all of the main characters. I also liked the way she described the setting. It's in Salem, Mass. an area I'm not overly familiar with, but the description made me feel as though I knew exactly what it looked like. I liked this book while I was reading it, but after discussing it with my book club, we all found even more ways to look at the characters and the outcome of the book. What is true and what is fiction? I think it's up for the reader to decide.
I also saw the author at a bookstore signing and discussion of her novel. She mentioned that she is writing another book associate with The Lace Reader. I will definitely be reading it.
I really liked this book. I grew up in a town bordering Salem so the vivid descriptions of the area held my interest on their own. Unlike other reviews I've read here and on Amazon I did catch all the clues and figured out the ending about half way through. Perhaps it was because I was listening to the audio version and was truly engaged by the reader or just because I like this genre. I actually think this made it more enjoyable to me. With each clue I was more and more satisfied that I knew the twist coming at the end.
A fascinating look at a generally unfamiliar facet of life in Salem, Mass: women who can read your fortune through the weave of hand-made lace. Woven in and out of the story of these women is the story of the lives several of them. Well crafted and attention-grabbing to the end!
I like stories with an unexpected twist in the end, which this one has, but I was still left unsatisfied. It's ultimately a very sad tale (SPOILER ALERT) about a woman who was abused as a child. The paranormal aspect is very minor.
I enjoyed this book and the story moved along nicely. The ending left me a little bit conflicted, but I think I just need to let it sink in for a few days. The lace making references were very interesting.