Sunday, March 14, 2010
The Lace Reader by Brunonia Barry
In a rare move, I picked up a book of pure fiction. The Lace Reader was assigned to me by my book club - an eclectic group of mothers, people in education, architecture, law, and business. And if any of those ladies haven't finished the book yet, I promise not to reveal any spoilers.
The Lace Reader tells of Towner Whitney, a young woman from an upper-class family in Salem, Massachusetts. In spite of moving to California as an adult, she is drawn back into her confusing and estranged relationship with the women of her family. All of these women are "readers" of varying degrees, that is to say the read other's minds and fortunes with the aid of holding up a piece of lace and looking through it for images.
Just as The Thunderbolt Kid made me want to visit Des Moines, The Lace Reader made me want to visit Salem, Massachusetts - even more than Iowa (go figure). The descriptions of historical homes and streets, docks and harbors are seriously affecting my decisions about future vacations.
Throughout the novel is passages from "The Lace Reader," a guide on how to make and read lace. Descriptions of bone bobbins, lace pillows, and the ceremony of cutting off the lace is described in vivid detail in these introductions to each chapter.
The storyline is intriguing if not rambling. A murder mystery, love affair, religious cult, domestic abuse, and family drama, all intertwined, make for a book that is difficult to stop reading, even during the slow parts. Without saying too much more, the ending makes the journey worthwhile.