Friday, July 25, 2008
Brunonia Barry/THE LACE READER
Towner Whitney never intended to return to Salem, Massechusetts. Now 33, Towner has been living in California for the last 15 years, since the mental breakdown she had after her twin sister's suicide. But now she has to go back--her beloved Great Aunt Eva has disappeared. As Towner is forced to confront the life she'd hoped she'd left behind, she finds herself fighting for and against a town steeped in personal histories and filled with unusual characters: her mother, May, a misanthropic rescuer of battered women who lives with a tribe of feral golden retrievers on an inaccessible island; a walking wounded recovering alcoholic police officer; an angry ex boyfriend; a serial pedophile and violent abuser who also happens to be the most influential evangelical religious leader in town and Towner's uncle. Most relevantly, Towner must fight for and against the ghosts of her past, and reconcile herself with this town full of ambient magic and every conceivable kind of witch.
THE LACE READER is an absorbing read--you'll have trouble putting it down without finishing it. The over-all effect, unfortunately, is a little half-baked. A rotating narrator moves from present-tense first person to past-tense third person and past-tense first person, and the lack of narrative commitment makes the stream of thought rocky at times. The author offers a lot of interesting plot threads, some of which come to fruition and some of which get abandoned or forgotten along the way. If the ending didn't feel so rushed and the conclusions had been a little more developed, this would have been a great book. As it is, it's an entertaining read.