Amy's Reviews > The Map of True Places

The Map of True Places by Brunonia Barry
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's review
Aug 15, 2011

liked it
bookshelves: library-book, kept-picking-it-apart-in-my-head

I was going to give the book two stars, but that seemed a bit harsh, so I gave it three. Imagine it at two and three-quarters, though, okay?

I chose to read this book because I had read and enjoyed the author's earlier novel, The Lace Reader. While the setting is similar and the plot interested me enough to keep reading until the end, this book was something of a disappointment.

The book began well: I was instantly interested in Hepzibah 'Zee' Finch, Barry's protagonist. Zee is a psychotherapist who seems as troubled as some of her patients. She's in the midst of planning her wedding to a Boston 'notable', but she just doesn't seem as interested in all the intricate details as her fiance. One of her patients has just committed suicide which has left her shaken and questioning herself. It has also stirred up the painful childhood memories of witnessing her own mother's suicide. To top all this off, she has to take a leave of absence to go home and care for her father who is suffering with Parkinsons. Add a healthy dose of side-plots and I powered through the first third of the book in hours.

A third of the way in, however, the book lost momentum. Not only did I become increasingly irritated with the main character and the tedious subplots, I also began noticing repetition in Barry's writing. I'd find myself reading along only to be yanked out of the story by a sentence I'd just seen, but worded slightly differently a few paragraphs back. Instead of being lost in the story, I found myself stopping often to question if anyone had proofread or edited the book before publishing it.

Truly good novels leave me feeling a little forlorn and melancholy when they're over. When I finished this one, it was with a feeling of relief that I'd made it through. It wasn't a bad story and it wasn't the worst writing I'd ever read; it was just a mediocre combination of both.

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Comments (showing 1-4 of 4) (4 new)

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message 1: by Amy (new)

Amy Someone left this at an OBCZ, where I got it. Every time I picked it up, I recalled how much I wanted to like The Lace Reader and was let down by it, so I'd put this one down again. After the 7th rejection to start reading it, I passed it on.

message 2: by Amy (new) - rated it 3 stars

Amy bookczuk wrote: "wanted to like The Lace Reader and was let down by it"

I read The Lace Reader at a time when I was gulping down books with hardly a pause in between. Around the same time, I read People of the Book by Geraldine Brooks, The Blood of Flowers by Anita Amirrezvani, Hidden Wives by Claire Avery, and The Sugar Queen by Sarah Addison Allen, so I thought I was comparing Barry unfavorably due to having read so many really great books so close together. Revisiting Brunonia Barry's writing in this book reminded me that there were parts in The Lace Reader when I found myself bored or dissatisfied with her writing/story. I have to say, however, that for the most part, I found The Lace Reader enjoyable. DEFINITELY better than this novel. :P

message 3: by Amy (new) - rated it 3 stars

Amy And speaking of People of the Book, have you read Caleb's Crossing by Geraldine Brooks? I just happened to see it in a list of suggested summer reading books Amazon just emailed me. Weird coincidence. . .

message 4: by Amy (new)

Amy It's on my wishlist somewhere...

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