THE LACE READER

Brunonia Barry

 Towner Whitney, the self-confessed unreliable narrator of The Lace Reader, hails from a family of Salem women who can read the future in the patterns in lace, and who have guarded a history of secrets going back generations, but the disappearance of two women brings Towner home to Salem and the truth about the death of her twin sister to light.

The Lace Reader is a mesmerizing tale which spirals into a world of secrets, confused identities, lies and half-truths where the reader quickly finds it’s nearly impossible to separate fact from fiction,

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 Towner Whitney, the self-confessed unreliable narrator of The Lace Reader, hails from a family of Salem women who can read the future in the patterns in lace, and who have guarded a history of secrets going back generations, but the disappearance of two women brings Towner home to Salem and the truth about the death of her twin sister to light.

The Lace Reader is a mesmerizing tale which spirals into a world of secrets, confused identities, lies and half-truths where the reader quickly finds it’s nearly impossible to separate fact from fiction, but as Towner Whitney points out early on in the novel, “There are no accidents”.

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  • Harper Paperbacks
  • Paperback
  • August 2009
  • 400 Pages
  • 9780061624773

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$14.99

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About Brunonia Barry

 Brunonia Barry, born and raised in Massachusetts, studied literature and creative writing at Green Mountain College in Vermont and at the University of New Hampshire and was one of the founding members of the Portland Stage Company. Barry’s love of theater led to a first job in Chicago where she ran promotional campaigns for Second City, Ivanhoe, and Studebaker theaters. Barry lives in Salem, MA with her husband and their beloved Golden Retriever named Byzantium. They are restoring a historic Salem home once owned by the Eastman family.

Praise

“With The Lace Reader, Brunonia Barry plunges us through the looking glass and beyond to a creepy and fascinating world. Prepare to meet strange, brave, bruised, electrically alive women there. Prepare to be riveted by their story and to live under its spell long after you’ve reached its astonishing end.” — Marisa de los Santos, author of Love Walked In and Belong to Me

“Drawing comparisons to memorable gothic novels, including Rebecca and The Thirteenth Tale. Barry’s modern-day story of Towner Whitney, who has the psychic gift to read the future in lace patterns, is equally complex but darker in subject matter…Repressed memories emerge. Violent confrontations, reminiscent of the hysteria of the witch trials, explode in this complex novel…The novel’s gripping and shocking conclusion is a testament to Barry’s creativity.” — USA Today

“A spine-tingler set in Salem…[with] an irresistible pull…The Lace Reader is tailor-made for a boisterous night at the book club.” — People (People Pick)

“[A] richly imagined saga of passion, suspense, and magic.” — Time magazine

Discussion Questions

The author states that The Lace Reader is, at its core, about perception vs. reality. How does Rafferty’s perception of Towner color his judgment of what she says and does? What about Rafferty’s perception of Cal and his actions?

At the very start of The Lace Reader, Towner Whitney, the protagonist, tells the reader that she’s a liar and that she’s crazy. By the end of the book do you agree with her?

Eva reveals that she speaks in cliche so that her words do not influence the choices made by the recipients of her lace reading sessions. Do you think that’s possible? Can a cliche be so over used that it loses its original meaning?

When May comments on the relationship between Rafferty and Towner, she states that they are too alike and predicts that “You won’t just break apart. You’ll send each other flying.” Did you agree with that when you read it? And if so, in what ways are Towner and Rafferty alike?

The handmade lace industry of Ipswich quickly vanished when lace making machines were introduced. At that same moment, the economic freedom of the women making the handmade lace also evaporated. Why do you think that these women didn’t update their business, buy the machines, and own a significant portion of the new lace making industry?

Do you think that May’s revival of the craft of handmade lace with the abused women on Yellow Dog Island is purely symbolic or could it be, in some way, very practical?

What role does religion play in the novel? Is there a difference between spirituality and religion? Between faith and blind faith?

Towner has a special bond with the dogs of Yellow Dog Island-do you agree that people and animals can relate to each other in extraordinary ways?

How do the excerpts from The Lace Reader’s Guide and Towner’s journal function in the novel? Does the written word carry more truth than the spoken? Did you use the clues in the Guide to help you understand the rest of the book?

How much does family history influence who a person becomes? Do you believe that certain traits or talents are genetic and can be inherited?

Is it possible that twins share a unique bond and how does being a twin affect Towner?

Can geography influence personality? For instance May lives on an island, does this say something about her?