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message 1: by Heather (last edited Sep 19, 2008 09:43AM) (new) - rated it 5 stars

Heather I loved this book! I just finished it yesterday and am still thinking about it. Ok, I'm confused about something. So, we find out at the end that Lyndley actually died at birth. So was Towner having the delusions and hallucinations about Lyndley from the get go, or was that something that happened later, triggered by abuse? Can someone give me their perspective on this...I'm confused.

Michelle I loved this book too! I think maybe Lyndley was like a secret friend for Towner when she was a child, after all, she was a twin, and they would have had a bond even though Lyndley died. And then when the abuse started, Lyndley became more of a hallucination or delusion for her. It was a way for her to detach from the abuse. So heartbreaking, but I loved that Towner was able to rise above by the end of the book. And didn't you love the characters and the setting? It was a good page turner!!

Heather Michelle - Yes! I loved that the story took place in Salem and how its history (witches) was woven throughout the story! It added such a magical element that I thought was awesome. And I was so surprised for the book being a fairly quick read that the characters were so well developed. I felt like I actually knew them really well! I was happy too that Towner had a "happy ending" so to speak. I thought this was such a beautifully written, mesmerizing story.

I've also been wondering if the people close to Towner (Eva, Beezer, May, Jack) knew about her "relationship" with Lyndley? It seemed like they did during certain parts of the story. And if so, did everyone just accept that about her and go on with life, or did that revelation finally just come to light when the sexual abuse started, leading the family then to send Towner to the hospital to get help?

Michelle I think that the family always understood about Lyndley, and they seemed uncomfortable with it. My question is, did Eva really commit suicide? Did she do it because she knew it would bring Towner back to face her own past? Did she do it to cast suspicion on Cal? Were there other reasons to commit suicide? It seems like a pretty far way to go if you're trying to help someone. I just wasn't clear on that whole thing.

Another question is, why did Towner have a hysterectomy? Did I miss something? The beginning of the book mentions it a few times, her stitches pulled, etc, but then it seems like the subject is dropped. Do you have any thoughts about that?

I agree that it was a compelling read and that the characters were well developed and vulnerable. I really appreciated that Rafferty was flawed himself and very understanding of Towner's difficulties. I liked that this relationship was somewhat understated and the book didn't become a big love story. You know it's a good read when I'm still wondering about it a week or so after I finished it!

Heather Michelle -

I'm so glad you posted on here! I've been dying to 'talk' to someone about this book!!! Reading the note that Eva had left for Towner in the pillow brought tears to my eyes! I felt like Eva did what she did as a last desperate attempt to help Towner. I think she felt it was the only way Towner would ever come back home and that she knew once there, Towner would be forced to deal with her past, and then the healing would finally be able to begin. She loved her so much she was willing to make the ultimate sacrifice to save her. At least that's how I interpretted her suicide. I think the suspicion that followed Cal was just a coincidence, albeit much deserved.

I wondered about the hysterectomy also...I seem to think there was a part in the book where Eva had a conversation with Rafferty discussing that. I think Towner had cysts/tumors that were causing significant bleeding and so she had to have the hysterectomy. Do you remember a conversation between Eva and Rafferty to that effect?

I loved the way she developed the relationship between Towner and Rafferty. Like you said, very understated, which considering the two people involved was the only way it would have been believable.

It's funny - I had questions as I was reading the story and trying to figure out where it was leading. Then at the end when the secrets were revealed it posed so many new questions that I don't have definite answers for! This is a great book to discuss in that regard and to see what others took away from it.

Michelle I think you're right about the suicide being Eva's ultimate sacrifice for Towner. She must have known Towner so well. I don't remember a conversation about the hysterectomy. This is a book I need to read again. I loaned out my copy already! I read it so quickly because I was dying to find out what was going on! From the first line of the book, you knew there was much more to the story and I loved how it all came out in little snippets, all these secrets.

Mara I just finished the book this morning on a recommendation from a friend. I thought it was a great book. I love the way Towner's journal entries from the hospital were put in the middle of the book, once we already had an attachment to the characters.

I definitely remember the conversation Eva had about Towner's cysts, so I believe it was a hysterectomy.

From what I read, Towner says she did not know Lyndley until she was 13 (because she lived in Florida and did not start spending summers on the island until then). My guess is this was when the abuse began. She was so tormented by the abuse that she eventually tried to commit suicide. I think Lyndley was a way for her to fill in the holes of her past and separate herself from the abuse. Just a coping mechanism really and her family was sensitive to this. Eva finally forced her to come back (as I understood it from the note in the pillow) and May realized it was her last chance to make Towner see the truth and told her 'I couldn;t have loved you more if I was your mother'.

Great book!

Heather Mara - I'm glad to hear you remember reading that Towner didn't meet Lyndley until she was 13...I had that thought running through my mind also, but after reading the ending, I wondered if I had remembered that part correctly. And that line you quoted from May floored me when I read it in the book! This story kept me guessing until the very end - I loved it!

message 9: by Michelle (last edited Sep 29, 2008 08:08PM) (new) - rated it 4 stars

Michelle Mara, you're right, I remember reading that now! And that does make total sense doesn't it, that the abuse started at the same time. And the comment from May really did make Towner stop and probably sent her on the right road toward recovery . . . finally. I actually guessed early on that Lyndley didn't really exist. Little comments like when Towner got some art supplies for a gift, and she thought why, when Lyndley is really the artist. And things she would say about Lyndley and people around her were confused or bothered. It did surprise me though that May wasn't her real mother, and that Beezer was her cousin, not her brother. And I was surprised that Lyndley had actually been her twin. There was really a lot to this story. A great read!

whatever Remember when Eva asked her "Who is Lyndley, really?" very seriously? I think that happened when she brought up how they all knew about the sexual abuse and how May had given her away, AFTER she moved in with Eva and felt like she was being given away, too.
So, it was before Lyndley's "suicide" that she mentions her to the family.
Also, Beezer gets really scared when they go to the No Name Island as a kid, and she says Lyndley was playing a trick. And she doesn't understand why he was so afraid.

Roxanne I liked this book enough to read it all the way through - which is something I don't always do. I did not feel that the book really carried itself throughout, although I was enthralled by sections of the plot, it seemed weak in others. But good enough to read and recommend - but not on my list of best. I wish she had gone into the lace readers history more and not turned it into a romance type novel towards the end.

Leslie I'm so glad to read all of your discussion. It took awhile for it all to sink in--at least for me! I hadn't even thought about Beezer getting so scared when they go to No Name Island--

I've got to reread this book...Can't wait for it to come out in paperback. It will become the book that I give as a gift (but I'm too cheap for hardcovers very often!) replacing the Secret Life of Bees--

Cynthia That was a really helpful thread of comments everyone thank you!! I hadn't thought of 1) people giving Towner the gift of the art supplies, that's a good thing to note (altho at the end she says, "all my doctors did agree on one thing, that I'm a horrible artist."Also, good point about Beezer getting scared on no-name island.
It's interesting too that they they keep talking about Cal and how he makes his acolytes throw away their psych meds, even though at least one is a schizophrenic. I'm not a psychiatrist, but it seems to me that Towner is pretty clearly schizophrenic; she hears voices and has multiple identities. Once you find out that Cal is actually her dad, that becomes more complicated and interesting.
I remember the hysterectomy subplot running throughout the entire story. I figured it was some kind of a metaphor or something for all the births and deaths and unhappiness caused by the children and heaped upon the children by their parents. I'm not quite sure how, but it has to do with wombs and healing; Towner's inability to love anyone, except maybe Eva; Towner accepting/remembering that Cal is her dad, Emma is her mom; and her embracing the love child of Cal and Angela and accepting the baby as her future sibling (she seems sure it's going to be a sister).
And of course the hysterectomy is an important plot point in the sense that it is part of Jack LaLibertie's revelation that he semi-raped her in Eva's bedroom that night, after they get drunk. He says he forces her into sex after two bottles of wine and she just completely disconnects from reality while he does it (she claims it never happened); this must be what she learned in all those years of Cal raping her. But it's the sex that causes her to get the infection that sends her back to the hospital for several days. It's also in the Jack-narrated chapter that you realize it wasn't Lyndley/Lyndsey who killed herself by jumping into the water, it was Towner.
What I was wondering was whether Towner had ever actually gone to live in California with Emma and Cal?
I have more questions but have to go make french toast for my daughter, will be back!

Robin Wayne That's what I've been trying to figure out - whether she really went to California or stayed. And the night Cal broke Emma's jaw, was Towner in the house, or in the car with Jack? When I finished this book, I immediately read it again and picked up so much more the second time, knowing the truth. But I have so many more questions, too!

Scoats So a few questions/comments:

- Am I the only man to have read this? This is my wife's book and I only read it because it was on our shelf. Despite some bits that were too womany, I liked it enough to keeping it to the end.

- Who is Beezer's father? As I was reading the book, I found it odd that no father for either of them was mentioned. I can see Towner omitting that fact since that would contradict her reality as being Beezer's sister, but the third person narrator could have mentioned it at the end.

- I'm pretty sure Towner was in the car with Jack. The beating of Emma must have happened after that.

- Eva killed herself to both bring back Towner and to throw suspicion on Cal. Sure this is the "ultimate sacrifice" but she was 78, making it a somewhat lesser sacrifice.

- What kind of name is Towner? Who would invent that for themselves? A crazy person obviously; guess I answered my own question. And why would everyone go along with it? To her thinking the name Towner would make it harder for Cal to rape her, but why would Cal use that rather than her birth name?

- Eva told Towner that she would have a child. Towner says that the hysterectomy was proof that Eva wasn't always right. That seemed to imply that book would end up with Towner raising the runaway's daughter.

- I had some issues with the Rafferty character. 1) The alcoholic cop thing seems so hackneyed. 2) I can't see him falling so hard for someone with such many mental health issues. 3) And he's a psychic too? Seems a bit much.

Deborah I loved this book. Although I have to admit, I read it a second time a year later, and I "got it" the second time around not the first. lol.
I read her other book just recently, not as good but equally troubled.

message 17: by Pat (new) - rated it 5 stars

Pat Wow! This is the first time I have read the entire commentary and all the messages. I read this just two weeks ago, but there are so many things I missed or glanced over.

First, I really did enjoy the book. I have read The Physick Book of Deliverance Dane- and I think there is a whole bunch of interesting things that go on and have gone on up there in Salem!

I was surprised to get to the end and find out that Towner was not a twin. I think the name Towner was chosen, because she had moved into town when she went to live with Eva? Hence she was then a Towner, as opposed to an Islander?

Her Hysterectomy was it possible the cysts were a secondary result of the sexual abuse in her early years? I guess we won't know unless we get the author to weigh in.

Rafferty- well, I thought he was a good guy. Hard life, as a Cop. But I gather that alcoholism is, or can be a result of the job. I think he had potential. And I think Towner had feelings for him and had developed a trust for him that she did not have for many men.But, if I could make up my own ending, Rafferty has a daughter...could that be the daughter that Eva mentions? Towner being a Step-Mother????
Poor Jack. He seemed to be trying, but it never was the way he hoped. I was glad in the end that he left and started a new life somewhere far away. Poor guy.

I really liked Ann, the witch. I admired her and think the group of witches up there were a very interesting lot! Not all were genuinely into their craft. Some were "posers" but the real ones were very good. I loved the faceoff between the calvinites(I know they were called Calvinists in the book- but that gives them a place they don't deserve) GO Witches! And Ann was helpful to Towner many times.

May- she tried very hard to help the underdogs. The abused and beaten women, scared to pieces, with no where to turn. Her holding the gun was impressive. And courageous. I sort of liked her, most of the time. Strange gal. I wondered what made her tick.

Emma. I want to shake women who allow that to happen and go back to the jerks time after time! You know what I would have really really really liked? For Cal, that wretched slime-ball,to really have been torn apart by the wild dogs! Just deserts! Go Doggies!

I had never heard of Lace Reading before but there must be some info on Wikipedia.
Great book. I am going to re-read it. I did listen to it via audio/cd's from the library. Many people don't like cd's but I really enjoy the spoken stories very much. If you can, check them out your local Public Library!

Message #6 Michelle-Have you ever gone on They have used books for sale and you can get fantastic deals and get the hard covers too. You can choose the quality and read about the copy before you purchase. It is the best way to get a book that you know you will want to read again. I have expanded my personal library tremendously! You all have urged e on to go find myself a copy to re-read! So many books- so little time! But if you get the Audio you can do two things at once! I keep it in the kitchen while preparing dinner, etc.

message 18: by Estelle (new)

Estelle Aker All good points, I don't know if anyone is still reading this. Did Towner live with Cal and Emma before she was 13? And just blocked all of that out?

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