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To Sketch a Thief
Sharon Pape
November Hunt
Jess Lourey
The Lace Reader - Brunonia Barry Towner Whitney returns to Salem, MA for the first time in 15 years when news that her Great Aunt is missing finds its way to her. That sentence is the simplest description of Brunonia Barry’s The Lace Reader, but what it really represents is the catalyst for a story about more, it is in fact a story about the past, present, and future of one woman, one family. I read this book in small doses throughout the day until finally all was quiet in my house and I let it engross me, capturing me until the final word. There were moments when I thought I had it all figured out, moments when I understood Towner’s past and present only to find myself jarred and then jarred again, finally realizing I never knew the whole truth, not once. Even after I put the book down and closed my eyes Brunonia’s Barry’s story still held me in its sway and my sleep was not easy because my mind was piecing together the whole of what I read – a task that might be impossible with a single read, but it is a book I believe worthy of a reread, one day. I loved the way the change in narrator and tense and memory and reality mirrored that of a troubled mind or a dreaming mind or a fracturing mind. There was a familiarity in the style, evocative of Charles Brocken Brown’s Edgar Huntley and echoes of stories told by contemporary authors on the subject of denial, buried memory, love, sacrifice and self-preservation, yet The Lace Reader is wholly unique. The narrative wasn’t perfect, there were passages of long unnecessary nothingness and questions left unanswered at the book’s close but like a great campfire ghost story that draws you ever closer to the storyteller, ever closer to the point where story and reality blur this novel will grab hold of you, continuing to weave question and answer long after the last word on the last page. All the reviews I read, positive and negative, seemed to tell me this was the kind of book I wouldn’t like, the sort of thing that left me shaking my head and wondering why I bothered, I was wrong.