Aug 31, 2009

The Lace Reader by Brunonia Barry

Brunonia Barry's The Lace Reader takes place in Salem, Mass., with a still point and a spiral of events that take place during Sophya "Towner" Whitney's journey from childhood to adulthood and inside her mind. Readers know from the beginning that Towner lies and is an unreliable narrator.

"The perfect line of the first-floor windows gleams back at me from the winter porch, I catch my reflection in the wavy glass, and I'm surprised by it. When I left here, I was seventeen. I haven't bee back for fifteen years. I knew my reflection in the glass when I was seventeen, but today I don't recognize the woman I see there." (Page 12 of the hardcover)

The death of her sister weighs heavily on Towner's mind, sends her to a mental hospital, and forces her to move to the Pacific coast. She only returns to Salem when she learns her Aunt Eva is missing. Barry weaves a psychological mystery for readers, leading them into the dark alleyways of Towner's memories, seeking the truth about her past and her family. Who is her mother? What happened to her sister? Where is her father? And why in a family of lace readers is she the one that has shunned the practice?

"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." (Page 24 of the hardcover)

May, Towner's mother, refuses to leave her island in Salem Harbor, even for funerals, but she helps abused women and those in need, helping them learn how to make Ipswich lace. Aunt Emma lives on the island, but remains detached from reality following her abusive relationship with Cal Boynton.

Barry's characters are human in their frailties, passions, and reactions to traumatizing events. Parts of the novel are narrated by Rafferty, the police officer in town, and parts of the novel are narrated by May, Towner's mother, which can cause readers to pause. However, readers will love the how the tunnels beneath Salem resemble the crevices of Towner's mind, and when each page turns, readers and Towner will emerge from the darkness into the light of the bay.

About the Author:

Brunonia Barry was born and raised in Massachusetts. She made her literary debut with the critically acclaimed New York Times bestselling novel The Lace Reader (William Morrow). The book landed on international bestseller lists.

Check out Brunonia Barry's blog and The Lace Reader Website.

Also, in the September issue of Book Page, there will be a sweepstakes in which the grand prize is a trip for two to Salem, two nights at The Hawthorne Hotel, and a guided Lace Reader tour of Salem with Brunonia.

For my loyal readers, I've got one paperback copy to give away! This giveaway will be international as usual.

1. Leave a comment on this post about a time when you went or thought about having your fortune read.

2. Blog, tweet, or spread the word about this giveaway and leave a comment and link here.

Deadline is Sept. 7, 2009, at 11:59 PM


Also Reviewed By:
Books Lists Life 
Trish's Reading Nook
Sam's Book Blog
The Literate Housewife Review
Shh... I'm Reading

Hey Lady! Whatcha Readin'?
books i done read


J.T. Oldfield said...

I've never had a "real" fortune teller tell my fortune, but we used to do those MASH fortunes a lot in school. Now I do them with my niece, who is six.

I'm tweeting about this!

Thanks! j.t.oldfield[AT]

Literary Feline said...

Every time I read a review of this book I want to read it more. It sounds so good.

I don't want to be entered in the giveaway, Serena (I have a copy already). In answer to your question though, I have never had my fortunate told. I sometimes think about going through with it, but I never have.

Melody said...

I've heard nothing but ravings about this book! It sounds like a good read!

Blodeuedd said...

I remember seeing this book around and wanting to read it. Something just draws me in.
I do wanna enter

blodeuedd1 at gmail dot com

Anonymous said...

I love anything and everything with Salem in it.
I have actually have my fortune read many times just for the sake of it. One the the fortune readers said to me that I'm very pious and I have the image of a goddess inside me. He was so serious that I couldn't even laugh.

Please enter me. Elizascott2005 at yahoo dot co dot in

I will be posting the link in the sidebar if that’s okay. Thanks so much for the contest.

MJ said...

I've never had my fortune read. I think about it once in awhile when life gets tough but I'm afraid I might not like what I hear!


fitz12383 said...

I seriously thought about it when a new fortune telling shop opened up in town last week. Fortune for $10!

Here's my tweet:



Linda said...

Everything I've heard about this book intrigues me. I'd love to win a copy. As to having my fortune told -- No thank you. No desire, I'll take my chances with the here and now.

Jo-Jo said...

In my early 20's before I knew much about life I had my own deck of Tarot cards so I used to read my own fortune all the time. Then I realized if this stuff was meant to be known, I wouldn't have to search for it so I disposed of them. Please enter me for this book.
joannelong74 AT gmail DOT com

bermudaonion said...

This is in my TBR pile, so I'm glad to see you enjoyed it. No need to enter me.

Anna said...

No need to enter me, as I already own the book. I'm glad to see you liked it. Now I just have to find my copy and dig in. Great review!

Diary of an Eccentric

Sandy Nawrot said...

I just bought this book over the weekend...I'm going to read it for RIP. I can't wait!

Toni said...

I had my fortune read one time by a hack at a halloween party.... I'd love to try for a shot in your giveaway. I have heard great things of this book.

Literate Housewife said...

I can't wait to read this one, Serena. I'm on tour Monday, so I'd best get cracking. I didn't get much reading done at all last week. I'm glad that you enjoyed it.

Good luck to everyone who enters the contest!

naida said...

The Lace Reader sounds good. I like the quotes.

When hubby and I were dating, I went to see a palm reader and she told me i'd marry a guy whose first name initial was the letter 'M' and that i'd have two children with him, a boy first then a girl.
My hubbys name begins with the letter 'M' and we had a son first, then our daughter :)

Pam said...

I actually used to get my tea leaves read fairly frequently with friends. Some times they were fairly accurate. The last time I went, for example, she talked about seeing water with the man I was going to marry (he is from overseas) and she said we'd have a boy and then a few years later a girl - yup. That's what's happened!

melacan at hotmail dot com

Staci said...

Excellent review of this book that has made me totally need to get my hands on it!!

Anonymous said...

This is on my wish list so I'd love to win a copy. At a conference dinner for my husband's job they brought in a fortune teller. She told me there was a baby on the way. This was 8 years ago. Shows you how much she knew :)

Teddyree said...

This is one I've had on my wishlist forever, would love to win a copy. Thanks for going international :-)

I went to see a clairvoyant just about life in general a couple of years ago, she was very good. Unfortunatey she was also absolutely correct with the prediction & outcome of my mum's illness.

Posted on the sidebar of my blog Visit The Eclectic Reader


Andreea said...

I'm glad you liked it. Some like it, others don't. It's great that we can read many different opinions about the same book!

Bridget said...

No need to enter me; just blogged about this on Win A Book.

ccqdesigns said...

The only time I ever had my fortune read was when I was in college. I was told I would get married, have two children, a boy first, then a girl, and live a long life. Well, I have a son. He is an only child. Kind of a boring fortune wasn't it?

rebecca dot cox at charter dot net

ccqdesigns said...
Here's a tweet!

rebecca dot cox at charter dot net

gautami tripathy said...

I have never been tempted to go to a fortune teller.

Maybe now I ought to go to ask if I will win this book or not!



trish said...

Hi, Serena! I wanted to thank you for being on the tour and writing such a thoughtful review. I'm kind of speechless after reading this: "..readers will love how the tunnels beneath Salem resemble the crevices of Towner's mind, and when each page turns, readers and Towner will emerge from the darkness into the light of the bay." I wish I'd written that! :) What a great observation.

Anonymous said...

I've never had my fortune read...maybe I should???

karen k

Book Escape said...

No need to enter me. I read this one and really enjoyed it.

Jenny N. said...

I've had my fortune read once. I went with my mom to a Chinese palm reader and she read my palm for me.


Sue said...

I've never really had my fortune read. But I did have a friend in high school who really felt like she could read palms. She told me I'd have three daughters and I actually have four sons, so I guess that didn't work out. Thanks for sharing.

s.mickelson at gmail dot com

DarcyO said...

I have never had my fortune told -- I don't think I want to know what's gonna happen next!

dlodden at frontiernet dot net

Bunny B said...

LOL. I read JT Oldfield's comment and am reminded of the times I played MASH too! Anyway, I have thought a few times to have my palm read cos it's interesting, but I never have done it yet

bunnybx at gmail . com

Bunny B said...

RT'ed @bunnyb

bunnybx at gmail . com

S. Krishna said...

No need to enter me, but wow, what a great review! You've really made me want to pick up this book.

Janel said...

I've never had my fortune told, and to be honest, I don't care to ever do that. I love surprises, why would I want to know what is going to happen?


Mystica said...

The book sounds intriguing. Please count me in.


Jo-Jo said...

I blogged about your contest here.

joannelong74 AT gmail DOT com

Anonymous said...

Don't enter me. I just wanted to say that I really enjoyed this book when I read it, except I kind of ruined it for myself and peeked ahead at the ending.

gaby317 said...

This book sounds like such a fun read! Thanks for the entry.

My two cousins were having their fortunes told and I went along with them. I'd been quite wary - in part because I don't believe in it and also because I don't want to have carry a prediction with me. I'd been worried that it would be bad news. It was a few months before I was to take the bar exam and so that was what I focused on more than anything. I had fun though, especially since my cousins were there and enjoying themselves.

gaby317nyc at gmail dot com

i follow

heatherzilla said...

I have not had my fortune told, but I might have it done the next time I go to downtown Savannah.

Nikola said...

Oh, cool, I'd love to read this! I have read some fantastic reviews.

My email is

I also tweeted (

Amanda said...

I have not had my fortune read, but I have always wanted to.

Carol said...

I've never had my fortune read. If I ever did it would just be for fun. I wouldn't take it seriously.

Carol M
mittens0831 at

Beth said...

I had my fortune told once at a carnival. The fortune teller told me there was a dark haired man in my life. My husband (dark hair) was holding my hand at the time! Thanks for the chance to win. The book looks great. Please enter me.

lizzi0915 at aol dot com

Brenda said...

I would love to read this book it sounds like something right up my ally!

I am a follower of your blog.

I also created a link on my blog to yours,

dancealert at aol dot com

Brenda said...

Whoops forgot to answer your question, yes I have had my fortune told quite a few times, they never really came true though.

dancealert at aol dot com

Denny, Alaska said...

I had my fortune read just this afternoon. I was told I would win a book giveaway contest! :) Please enter my name; thank you!


BlackWolf said...

sometimes i think about going trough with it, but i never have


Barb said...

I have many reviews of this book and get more excited with each review. I really want to read this book.

I have had my fortune told several times. The most recent time the person always taped the session for the customer. She first taped the session with my daughter and the tape recorder worked well. Then it was my turn. We went through the whole session with the tape recorder moving the tape through the machine. When she went to give me a copy of the tape, the tape was totally empty. This sort of spooked her and really shook me. Her explanation was that the spirits didn't want me to have a copy of the session due to its negative connotations for my future. So I left without a taped copy and feeling very strange about the future.

bstilwell12 at comcast dot net

Anonymous said...

I've never had any desire to have my fortune read. The closet I've ever come is opening fortune cookies when I've gone out for Chinese food.
wandanamgreb (at) gmail (dot) com

Sarah Z said...

I have never had my fortune read but I would love too - just to see what they say!
believedreamcourage (at)

Debs Desk said...

I have never been to a real furtune teller but my friend used to read Tarot cards. She read mine several times but nothing ever came true. Please include me in your giveaway.

sheila said...

sometimes think that is well-read severaltimes my fortune and that of the thers persons .
but i adore to read it in my letters.
please include me, the only(unique) thing that saves me from the incoherence is to read

jpetroroy said...

I had my fortune told at the afterparty for our high school prom. It said I would go on to do well...So generic.

I tweeted at

jpetroroy (at) gmail (com)

Michelle Magill said...

My 8 year relationship was in ruins, but he was stalking me; I was being courted by an 18 year old from an amateur play who dressed up each night as a TBone steak; The guy I really wanted liked me enough to date but not enough to commit because he wanted to move OS and I didn't; my mum was very sick.

I sought out ANY help to get my head straight. A good friend said she could 'help me out' like it was a drug deal and I ended up at 8pm in an outer suburb of Brisbane with no street lights. We went into an average looking wooden house and sat at the dinner table still covered in plates from dinner. Then I got a look at the lady across from me. Blond hair bleached till it was so crisp it was looked like it would break off in your hand - she was prob 60 but wrinkled like she was 80 - but the worst was that her eyes looked in two different directions - I couldn't work out how to look at her.

She handed me a cup of tea to drink and I did - then she proceeded to read my tea leaves. Well!!! it was the most terrifying thing I've ever heard. She related my current situation in every detail including names and descriptions of people. Surpisingly she also told me exactly what I would do next - which I had already decided on but was procrastinating about.

I left there and never went back because she scared me half to death. BTW this is absolutely true!

I'll twitter this!


Luvdaylilies said...

I have never had my fortune told but I have to admit I have thought about it, not sure I ever would though!
Luvdaylilies at bellsouth dot net

Veronica said...

I was lucky to find this nice blog via a search and have now become a follower.
I had my fortune read when I got my heart broken many years ago. Did it several times and none seemed to see my future! However one stuck with me trhough the years and we are still to see if she was for real.. ;)