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Monday, March 02, 2009

The Lace Reader - Brunonia Barry

This book was loaned to me by another teacher friend, and it's a grown up mystery book, although from the cover I totally didn't expect it to be a mystery. I really, really enjoyed this book, and I'm so happy that I had a chance to read it.

The story is set in Salem, Massachusetts, home of the famous Salem Witch Trials, but it's set in present day. Towner Whitney, whose female ancestors have a long history of mind reading and fortune telling, is the protagonist. Towner herself can read minds if people are open, but this is NOT something Towner wants to do. In fact, Towner really wants nothing to do with Salem at all, which is why she left long ago, determined never to come back. But the mysterious disappearance of her Aunt Eva, to whom she has a very strong connection, forces her back, and she becomes ensnared in events from which she is having difficulty escaping.

The title of the story comes from the fact that many of the women in Towner's family can read lace. They look at a piece of lace and see a story in it. Sort of like reading tarot cards or something. Again, towner can do this, but she does not want to. Towner's mother, who lives on one of the Salem islands, along with other women who are seeking shelter on her island, still make lace, and the women of The Circle, as they're called are, in fact, quite famous for it. Each chapter begins with a bit about the history of lace making and lace reading, and it's an interesting addition to the story. Sometimes I don't like those kinds of intros in books, but these are a really nice addition.

The conclusion of this story is quite startling, and I was totally unprepared for it. I really liked that, though, because I'm not often caught so unaware. This is a fabulous read for adult lovers of mystery and character development. Available at the Multnomah County Library.

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