The Lace Reader

I just finished reading The Lace Reader by Brunonia Barry and even though it’s an interesting book, it did not meet my expectations. I have heard so many positive things about this book, so I just couldn’t wait to read it. Unfortunately, the book was not what I expected. I didn’t really like the beginning and the storyline in general. However, this is still a good book; it was just not the right book for me.

The novel deals with serious issues and tells a complex and dark story. I find it difficult to summarize this book, simply because in this novel, nothing is quite as it seems. The first sentences of The Lace Reader show us that we are dealing with an unreliable narrator:

“MY NAME IS TOWNER WHITNEY. No, that’s not exactly true. My real name first name is Sophya. Never believe me. I lie all the time.”

Thus, Brunonia Barry makes no secret of the fact that we can’t really trust the narrator. Throughout the novel, the reader finds it difficult to separate fact from fiction, as the author tells a story full of secrets, lies and confused identities. What is real and what is not? How much can we trust Towner (or is it Sophya)?

The Lace Reader tells the story of the Whitney women who can read the future in the patterns in lace. It is the powerful tale of an eccentric family who has many dark secrets and issues to deal with. After a traumatic experience, Towner Whitney leaves Salem and doesn’t intend to come back. However, 15 years later, she learns that her great-aunt is missing, so Towner finally decides to return home. There, she is haunted by memories of her difficult past and finds herself confronted with her deepest fears. Will she manage to find peace and finally put her past behind her? And what disturbing secrets will she unveil to us?

The Lace Reader reminds me of Diane Setterfield’s The Thirteenth Tale, although I must admit that I find Setterfield’s work more fascinating and compelling. All in all, I think that The Lace Reader is a good book, full of suspense, secrets and mysteries!

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11 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. vivienne
    Aug 29, 2009 @ 17:39:29

    It took me until past page fifty to get into this book and then it concerned me that so much of it was a lie. I keep hearing that it has been compared with The Thirteenth Tale, I shall have to dig it out and read it.

    Just to let you know I mention you in my Tuesday book this week as I am reviewing The Enchanted April.

    Reply

  2. Sandy
    Aug 29, 2009 @ 22:06:42

    I think as long as I know the narrator is a big fibber, I will take it all in context. I actually enjoy unreliable narrators. It won’t be so different than having a conversation with a couple of people I know! I just did buy this book. I’m going to cross my fingers that I have a better response!

    Reply

  3. Baba
    Aug 30, 2009 @ 00:35:01

    Never heard of this book. I might consider checking it out. I hate it when the first sentence of a book draws you in and then the story doesn’t stand up as well as you hoped. It’s almost like you are being teased. But, if I run across the book I’ll definitely give it careful consideration.

    Reply

  4. Jenny
    Aug 30, 2009 @ 02:37:46

    Ha, I do like the first sentence! I have heard good things about this book too but I could either read it or not and be okay.

    Reply

  5. Carrie K.
    Aug 30, 2009 @ 18:54:49

    I actually loved this book – but I like books with unreliable narrators, and trying to figure out what’s really going on. It reminded me a bit of The Sister by Poppy Adams.

    That’s one thing that’s so cool about book blogging, though – is we can read so many different opinions about the same book! 🙂

    Reply

  6. Melody
    Aug 31, 2009 @ 00:32:07

    I like the first sentence!
    I’ve read some good reviews on this book… though am not sure if I’d want to pick it up.

    Reply

  7. sagustocox
    Aug 31, 2009 @ 14:58:56

    I really enjoyed the dark mysteries of the lace reader, but I don’t usually have issues with unreliable narrators. Thanks for the honest review.

    Reply

  8. Andreea
    Sep 01, 2009 @ 13:14:01

    I usually like unreliable narrators and I also liked the first sentence. However, this book was not what I expected. I don’t know, I thought it would be more like a gothic novel. Well, I was disappointed. Nevertheless, it’s still a good book and I am sure that some of you will like it very much.

    Reply

  9. Jemima
    Sep 10, 2009 @ 23:54:23

    Thanks for the review. I was wondering about this book and what it was about. I don’t think that I would like it as I didn’t really like The Thirteenth Tale which you compare it to.

    Reply

  10. Fence
    May 04, 2010 @ 20:18:31

    I felt similarly to you after I read this, I liked it, thought it was interesting, but it just didn’t “do it” for me.

    Reply

  11. Trackback: Susan Hated Literature | The Lace Reader

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