Boulder City Magazine® August 2009 Issue
by Fran Haraway
Boulder City Library
The Lace Reader
by Brunonia Barry
Near the beginning of The Lace Reader, Towner Whitney, the main character, offers two caveats: she lies and she is crazy. This information however, is quickly forgotten as the reader becomes involved in Towner’s story which contains at least one ghost, witch hunts, a mysterious disappearance and long-hidden family secrets.
Boulder City Magazine®
|Towner’s real name is Sophya and her home town is Salem, Massachusetts, but she has changed her name and moved to the other side of the country in an attempt to distance herself from her weird, grief-filled past. The disappearance of her aunt, Eva Whitney, causes Towner to return to Salem and face her demons.
Eva was a local celebrity because, like her Salem ancestors, she was a lace reader who read people’s pasts and futures in Ipswich lace. She also ran a tearoom, gave etiquette lessons and was a beloved member of her community.
Towner, like the women in her family, has the gift of being able to read lace. In lace reading, there is a reader and a seeker, and Towner is a seeker. When the right question is asked, the answer is immediate, but when Towner uses her gift, her answers brings tragedy to those she loves, so she flees Salem and moves to California.
Upon returning to “Witch City” (although Towner points out that there were never really any witches in Salem - just those accused of witchcraft), Towner, who is feeling very frail from recent surgery, must deal with her mother’s sanctuary for abused women, the local group lead by the charismatic Cal and called, appropriately, “Calvinists” who are determined to persecute modern-day witches (and whose leader is responsible for blinding Taylor’s Aunt Emma), the domestic violence which has scarred her family, and her renewed grief at the death of her twin sister.
The plot, which changes from first to third person and back again, and travels with ease from the present to the past, is much like a piece of Ipswich lace - complicated, intertwined but holding truth. The problem, gentle reader, is that everyone has a different truth!
If you are interested in this book or would like to learn more, contact me at info@bouldercity magazine.com.
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