Friday, April 24, 2009

The Lace Reader by Brunonia Barry (review)

Title: The Lace Reader
Author: Brunonia Barry
Illustrator: N/A
Pages: 390
Genre: Fiction
Dewey Decimal: F Bar
ISBN: 978-0-06-162476-6
Cost: $24.95

Brunonia Barry has written what I can only describe as the equivalent of a lace novel. Some readers will see the patterns early on while others will only see a nice piece of art. I happen to fall into the latter category.

The book is, simply put, a chick-lit novel. While that is not a category I would usually use to label a novel, it seems to fit best, no matter how sexist it sounds.The main character, Towner, has lived a hard life and returns home when her aunt dies. She has to face those she left behind, the labels others have placed on her, and new challenges. All while recovering from surgery. Salem, as in the home of the burned witches, also plays a character of sorts in the book. We see how it has become a center for tourism based on its past. It is also a gateway to other smaller, subset communities. My favorite being the social community of crazy people.

The plot was confusing at times but had some solid pieces to anchor the reader. Being a guy, I think I had a harder time than a woman would in following the story and the emotions. The best comparison I can make is The Lace Reader is like The Sisterhood of Traveling Pants. Only with lace readers and witches in New England instead of pants-wearing teenage girls traveling the world.

The marketing was outstanding for this novel. I may not know all that goes into marketing a new novel from a debut author, but the publishers have impressed me. By using social and viral advertising, and awesome prizes, they've done well in getting the word out. Having a starred review from Publishers Weekly didn't hurt either.

My bottom line is this. I enjoyed the book. Even if it wasn't my cup of tea (or piece of lace), I still found it entertaining. I especially liked the ending when the pattern was finally revealed for the novice lace reader I am.


1979 semi-finalist said...

One question - did the main character have a relationship at times with a man (i.e. find lurve), and that was generally the focus of the novel (even if it was often pretending to be something else) and were there obstacles thrown in the way of this relationship (but any savvy reader could tell it was going to work out in the end) - and of course then the main character DOES end up "happily ever after" with said male character? If the answer to all of that is yes, then you were definitely reading a chick lit novel, if not then you were probably just reading regular "literary fiction" that happened to be geared towards women.

A good review. I like that you tried this out, even though you knew going in it probably wouldn't be your cup of tea - I need to do more of that.

TK42ONE said...

The answer was yes to most of those, but I won't tell which ones as it might giveaway the ending. And the ending was what really threw me for a loop.

And the "free-ness" of the book helped me read it. Free stuff is so hard to turn down.

But stay tuned...this one goes on the freebie block soon!