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The Lace Reader (The Lace Reader #1)

3.45  ·  Rating Details ·  23,144 Ratings  ·  3,885 Reviews
Look into the lace? When the eyes begin to fill with tears and the patience is long exhausted, there will appear a glimpse of something not quite seen... In this moment, an image will begin to form? in the space between what is real and what is only imagined. Can you read your future in a piece of lace? All of the Whitney women can. But the last time Towner read, it killed ...more
Paperback, 353 pages
Published September 1st 2007 by Flap Jacket Press (first published 2006)
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Mary Conti
This answer contains spoilers… (view spoiler)
Marcie You will have no problem identifying who is telling the story. Part of it is told in the first person of Towner, the main character. I found the book…moreYou will have no problem identifying who is telling the story. Part of it is told in the first person of Towner, the main character. I found the book held my interest and enjoyed the many quirky characters and the story line.I think you will like it!(less)
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Community Reviews

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Feb 23, 2008 Elaine rated it it was amazing
Shelves: february, favorites, 2008
Towner Whitney is forced to return to Salem MA, after an absence of almost 15 years, when her Great-Aunt Eva goes missing. Once she is back in Salem Towner soon finds out that she will need to confront the ghosts of her past in order to move on into her future. Through a series of flashbacks and memories the reader finds out that the Whitney family is not quite what they seem. The story is filled with a cast of eccentric characters from Towner's mother May who refuses to step a foot off the isla ...more
Jul 01, 2008 Stacey rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: Anyone
Recommended to Stacey by: ARC
Shelves: fiction
Ever found yourself finishing a book out of obligation, to the book itself? That vague but relentless guilt that settles in when you have figured out exactly where this story is going and where it will wind up, but you started the book, so you really ought to finish it? Go to your favorite bookseller and pick up Brunonia Barry’s The Lace Reader today. Now.
First, to give props where props are due, I apologize, Ms Barry. I thought I had it all figured out. I loved Towner, finding a woman I would l
Carmaletta Hilton
Jul 13, 2008 Carmaletta Hilton rated it liked it
My biggest issue with this book was the switching of points of view. I don't feel that it added all that much to the story, except to leave us all the more confused by the end. This story would have best been told completely in 3rd person, saving us the momentary pull out of the story when we get to a new chapter and realize that this isn't Towner's point of view. In the end, it feels as though the only reason for the chapters in Towner's pov were solely to give us the effect of confusion at the ...more
Aug 18, 2008 Bess rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
At the end of a perfect summer day when the setting sun casts that net of skin-kissing balmy warmth over the land, if you're lucky enough to be driving down a traffic-less country backroad with all the windows open -- or just looking out the window of a city bus at that light hitting the sides of buildings at new and interesting angles, illuminating parts of them you rarely get to see -- you know how sometimes it actually feels like you're on drugs? This book lulls you into exactly that pleasant ...more
Aug 14, 2008 Lisa rated it it was ok
This book wasn't as good as I thought it would be, given all the press it's been getting. I mean, come on already! I hear about it all the time. I do think it's pretty amazing how this self-published author has now signed with HarperCollins or some other big publisher...but about the book. It was a pretty good story with lots of plot twists and an interesting theme exploring truth and reality, but the "surprise ending" is dumped on you like a ton of bricks, and besides, I had already figured it ...more
Aug 15, 2008 Myridian rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Aug 25, 2008 Grace rated it liked it
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Aug 28, 2008 Juushika rated it liked it
Shelves: status-borrowed
All of the Whitney women can read the future in a piece of lace, but Towner hasn't read lace since her sister committed suicide and she was institutionalized. But Towner is confronted again by her prophetic past and convoluted family history when she returns home to Salem, Massachusetts after her great aunt Eva goes missing. This book has a promising premise of a complex family history, prophecies, and unreliable narrators; the setting is realistic and detailed, and Barry has a haunting narrativ ...more
Aug 28, 2008 Gail rated it did not like it
If you liked THE LIFE OF PI, you might like this book. I didn't, and I wasn't real fond of this one by the time I got to the end of it. If that's a spoiler, so be it. This book actually made me mad.
Okay, so this book is about a family of women with "the sight," who can read a person's future through lace. Except there's very little actual lace reading that goes on in the book. There's a fair bit of lace making, but no reading. The heroine has been estranged from her relatives, living on the oppo
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Jackie says:

The imagination of Brunonia Barry seems limitless--from it she creates a whole history and methodology of divination (lace reading is her brainchild), then weaves it through a complex family tale full of surprises. This book is extremely difficult to put down once you dive into it--the cast of characters could keep a book club busy through many pots of coffee. Especially the late in the game major plot twist and what it means for all of the characters. It's set in modern Salem, with
Sep 02, 2008 Julie rated it it was ok
Shelves: audiobooks
The concept gets an A, the execution gets a C. The book is just a mess! In serious need of editing and rearrangement. I was often confused because it was hard to tell reality from dreams from hallucinations from delusions from memories. There were a lot of good ideas, but so many of them were totally unnecessary and others weren't fully fleshed-out. The author should have saved some of those ideas for other stories and developed them further (and maybe she will). As the book went on, the author ...more
Sep 04, 2008 Carey rated it it was amazing
Salem, Massachusetts is an unusual town. And the Whitneys are the most unusual family in Salem. Their family roots in Salem go back hundreds of years. They fit right in with the eccentric witches, most of the Whitney women have the ability to sense bits of people's thoughts and see glimpses of the future when they look through a piece of lace.

Towner Whitney is in her early thirties and she has just returned to Salem from her self imposed exile in California because her beloved Great Aunt Eva ha
Beth F.
This book didn’t quite live up to my expectations for it but overall, I thought it was okay. That makes me a little sad because there were several elements to this book that seemed like they would be wildly interesting when they were all mixed together in the same book and I was hoping to really love it. A quick rundown of the things that happened include the mysterious death of Eva Whitney, suicide, the disappearance of a young woman, mental illness, sexual abuse, rape, witchcraft, fortune-tell ...more
Oct 10, 2008 Jen rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: Women who are open to mysticism
I wanted to read The Lace Reader because it is set in Salem, Massachusetts, and it's about a family of women with the gift of reading fortunes in lace. Each chapter starts with a little excepts from "The Lace Reader's Guide" about how to make or read lace as we follow Towner Whitney's return to Salem after a decade's absense following the suicide of her twin sister.

Towner returns when her great-aunt Eva, a gifted lace reader, goes missing. Towner has the gift, too, as well as hallucinations and
Dec 31, 2008 Jennifer rated it it was amazing
My boss forced me to read this, and I'm really glad she did. A fabulously unreliable narrator leads to a lovely twist at the end. And Barry's descriptions of Salem, Mass., are so spot-on that anyone who has ever toured there even once will recognize certain landmarks.
Feb 27, 2009 Jessica rated it really liked it
I really liked this book. I liked the combination of mystery, suspense, romance, family, psychology. It really grabbed my attention at the beginning and kept it all the way through. There were surprises I didn't see coming and now I want to go back and read it again with that perspective! It is provacative and challenging in many respects, so be prepared for that. It isn't an easy, entertaining read--but one that makes you think, hypothesize, and wonder. I enjoyed it a lot.
There were a couple of things that drew me to this book -- the idea of lace reading as a way of prophecy or fortune telling of sorts, the setting of Salem and the islands nearby, a hint at mystery and supernatural things. But I should have been warned off by two things. First the friend who gave this to me gave it a lukewarm recommendation, and second, the author comes flat out and tells us in the beginning that the narrator should not be trusted. I guess if there had been more of the lace-readi ...more
Aug 28, 2009 Joan rated it it was ok
I liked this book at first because of the visual setting of Salem and Marblehead, the unusual dysfunctional family, and the mystery of the aunt's death. As the story progresses it just gets tangled in its own web or lace as it were, a story in search of a flashy ending which is provided but somehow unsatisfying.
Apr 20, 2009 Sarah rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Reading this book is like falling asleep in a moderately interesting class. A moment flutters by that briefly captures your imagination, but mainly things are just droning along. Droning, that is, until the last moment when the teacher starts ranting and throwing things. Wow! I'm awake, I'm awake--what's happening? This book has one of those crazy twist endings that just doesn't make sense, and you suspect that you missed something since you were, after all, practically asleep. But you didn't. I ...more
Nov 12, 2009 Jen rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: mystery fans, New England fans, wiccan fans
Recommended to Jen by: alex
Shelves: fiction
This book did a whammy on me. I finished it about a month ago, but I still find myself thinking about it in random moments. Supposedly, the author dreamt the ending, and I totally believe it.

A young woman returns to Salem, Mass after the death of her beloved Great Aunt. The Aunt's death is a mystery, and Towner Whitney works with the police and her family in order to find out what happened. What the police don't know (or refuse to acknowledge) is that the Whitney women can read a person's histor
Apr 02, 2010 Melinda rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
The story begins with the central character, Towner Whitney, admitting she's a liar with memory loss issues - so you really don't know what to believe (and after a while you don't much care). Eventually (after plodding through 150 pages of mostly nothing) a mystery plot is introduced. This book is interminable! It's structured in an awkward manner - keeps jumping back and forth leading the reader down blind alleys with lots of scenes going nowhere and serving no purpose to the storyline. There w ...more
When I first saw this book cover, I had a mental Will Smith moment: “Awwww, hell no!” I thought it was the same as those novels centered around knitting or quilting but that lace was the new vehicle. Boy, was I wrong! It’s about so much more than lace reading (a kind of fortune telling based on the reading of lace), but I’m not here to plot summarize. I’ll say what I always say when I think a story is full of excellent twists. Be careful which reviews you read! I loved, loved, loved this story. ...more
Aug 15, 2011 Megan rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
I’ve read a lot of mixed reviews of The Lace Reader and against my better judgment, tried it out anyway. Mystery, cool psychic powers which involve reading fortune through a piece of lace, New England setting (Salem, MA even)… despite all of this, this novel was a chore.

The audio version barely kept me entertained on my way to work. Halfway through I was tempted to chuck it, but then remembered how terribly behind I am in the Goodreads yearly challenge =( So, I did something I never, ever do an
Feb 29, 2016 Annalisa rated it liked it
Recommended to Annalisa by: Melanie
There were things I definitely liked about this book, the psychology for one and the visual of Salem, MA for another, but the organization of the book bothered me.
-Over a hundred pages into it, Barry shifts POVs and even then jumps around a bit between perspectives.
-Twice, she uses documents to tell her story, which is a great literary technique, but again they come late in the book and the second one takes up sixty pages. It was a little jarring (ironically, those sixty pages were my favorite
Paul Pessolano
Feb 20, 2011 Paul Pessolano rated it really liked it
This book is being highly acclaimed by just about everyone who has read it. I will be no exception.

This is an excellent read and more importantly it is well written. The theme and story of the book will be of more interest to women than to men, although I can honestly say that I thoroughly enjoyed the book.

The setting is Salem, Massachusetts; you remember where they had the Witch Trials in the 1600's. Salem is still smothered in the mystic of the occult. Some inhabitants are because they believe
Apr 11, 2011 Janice rated it liked it
I'm not sure how to review this book. It was a ride - sometimes confusing and bumpy. At other times it was mezmerising. I loved the characters. Each had unique but complex personalities.

The book begins with Towner Whitney stating that she is crazy and that she lies. She returns to Salem when she learns that her great aunt is missing. In no time, she is immersed in the confusing family dynamics that surrounded her as a child.

To me, the story is about perceptions, from the lace readings the Whit
Aug 01, 2014 Lowed rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: my friends
Who doesn't love witches? It's crazy considering what we have seen in movies and what we have read in books these days. From Alice Hoffman's Practical Magic to Philip Pullman's The Golden Compass, their powers are just awesome!

And NO- I haven't been to Salem nor have I tried practicing witchcraft. But Lace Reading? Who was paid to do this?! This actually got me to reading the entire book. How are they going to discover your past and foretell the future through a lace. Yes ladies and gents! A LA
Mar 03, 2015 Krisnow18 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I thoroughly enjoyed this book. You are hooked with the first few lines. It is just beautifully written. I was totally surprised by the end and that isn't something I can usually say. I normally have them figured out in advance. I love the blurbs at the beginning of each chapter from the Lace Readers Guide.

Highly recommend this one
Jan 17, 2016 Megan rated it really liked it
really enjoyed it, particularly with the different narratives
Sep 06, 2016 Jessica rated it liked it
I will say this is an interesting concept with a plot twist that left me bewildered at the end. It gets a three star rating for the ending. To clarify- it is not because I disliked the ending. The lower rating is simply due to the fact that such a climactic turn of events should seemingly be explored a bit deeper. The acceptance of it all without too much fanfare was just too unbelievable to allow. I see there is a sequel and I will probably read it because I did like the characters. I loved th ...more
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Lyndley *SPOILER ALERT* 18 344 Aug 15, 2016 10:55AM  
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Brunonia Barry is the New York Times and international best selling author of THE LACE READER, THE MAP OF TRUE PLACES, and THE FIFTH PETAL, which will be released in January 2017. Her work has been translated into more than thirty languages. She was the first American author to win the International Women’s Fiction Festival’s Baccante Award and was a past recipient of Ragdale Artists’ Colony’s Str ...more
More about Brunonia Barry...

Other Books in the Series

The Lace Reader (2 books)
  • The Fifth Petal

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“There is lace in every living thing: the bare branches of winter, the patterns of clouds, the surface of water as it ripples in the breeze.... Even a wild dog's matted fur shows a lacy pattern if you look at it closely enough.” 21 likes
I'll pit my God against your god any day, I say to the Calvinists. It's not their god I'm praying to.... The God I'm praying to is neither male nor female. My God is the one who exists apart from all of men's agendas, the God who takes you away when there is no possible place you can go.” 19 likes
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