Wednesday, August 6, 2008


I tend to be someone who trusts book reviews. So when I read in BookPage that "If you choose just one novel to read in these waning days of summer, it should be the lovely and terrifically paced The Lace Reader," I decided to read it. My conclusion? I wish I had been reading Breaking Dawn.

Alright, so The Lace Reader wasn't really that bad. Here's the plot, straight from the BookPage review: "Towner has returned to her hometown of Salem after her beloved Aunt Eva drowns in the harbor while out on her daily swim. It's a suspicious death: a volatile local evangelist had lately been accusing Eva, who ran a local tea room and could tell people's fortunes by reading images in lace, of witchcraft.

Towner's homecoming is a reluctant one. She's spent years in Los Angeles to avoid Salem, where her twin sister committed suicide and her eccentric mother remains on an isolated island, operating a modern-day Underground Railroad for abused wives. Coming home brings Towner face to face with painful secrets that still haunt the Whitney family."

The narrator, Sophya "Towner" Whitney, is a liar. The first sentence establishes that. She's tricky, though; you don't know what she's lying about. If you're like me, you forget she's a liar and believe everything. And at the end, when a HUGE twist is revealed, you're in shock and then don't really understand the whole novel. Seriously, the twist is that huge. Hints of the truth are there, but you'd never put it together.

My main issue is that I don't understand Towner. Does she know the truth and is just suppressing it? She was institutionalized and had shock therapy--did that twist her mind? I can't go into detail without ruining the twist but her reality seems so real. What, then, is truth?

The story is set in Salem, MA. The author creates excellent atmosphere and her writing is very...stylized. I don't think this is the only book you should read this summer, however. If you like unrealiable narrators and postmodern works, read it. (Let me clarify this: I don't mind postmodern work. I just think the twist in this book so contorts reality that I needed more explanation and truth. That's all.)

Rating: 6.5/10

No comments: