Saturday, October 06, 2007
The Lace Reader
Barry, Brunonia. The Lace Reader. I'm so glad to have been sent this ARC/uncorrected manuscript. Barry's first paragraph establishes the tone and introduces her prose style:
"When the call comes in, I am dreaming of water. Not the warm blues and greens of these California beach towns, but the dark New England Atlantic of my youth. In my dream, I am swimming to the moon. Like all dreams, it seems logical. The idea that there is no pathway between sea and moon never occurs."
The call is from Towner Whitney's brother who tells her that Eva, her great-aunt, is missing. Towner must go home to Salem, Massachusetts, which she fled 17 years earlier and to which she has never returned.
Chapter 3 (the chapters are short and each is prefaced with a quote from The Lace Reader's Guide) begins:
"My name is Towner Whitney. No, that's not exactly true. My real first name is Sophya. Never believe me. I lie all the time.
I am a crazy woman, ...That last part is true."
I love the characters in this novel, most of whom create themselves with their actions and dialogue in the most believable way. How easy to fall headlong into this family of eccentrics that can read lace and minds; how easy to believe the impossible in the atmosphere of Salem and the surrounding islands. Mind you, the atmosphere of Salem is that of the modern Salem, a town that thrives on the tourist industry based on its historic past. Where there were no witches during the famous trials, but where witches are alive and well, enterprising and entrepreneurial in the present.
Witches, mind readers, clairvoyants become as acceptable and believable as your next door neighbors, but there is also the all-to-ordinary difficulties of grief and memory, of meanness and abuse. What to believe? Who to believe? What happened to Eva and to Lyndley?
Barry's prose is simple, well-paced, and visual. From the opening paragraph through the conclusion, I found myself captivated and...well, at home, in this strange and bewitching novel.
Hoping for much more from Brunonia Barry!
Fiction. Supernatural/psychological mystery. 2006. 353 pages.