I managed to snag an advanced copy of The Lace Reader from a blog at my favorite local bookstore, Brookline Booksmith. I'm always up for a book that takes place in Massachusetts, and the Gothic nature of the story sounded fascinating. I have to say, I wasn't let down by this book at all.
Towner Whitney comes from an established Salem family - the men were traders and merchants and pirates. And the women? Psychics and readers - especially lace readers. Towner comes back to Salem after the disappearance of her great-aunt, Eva, who gave lace readings to locals and tourists alike in her tea room. Towner's mother, May, always an eccentric, takes in abused women and children and teaches them to make lace. But Towner herself has been avoiding lace since her twin sister committed suicide as a teen after a lace reading.
The book is itself a piece of finely crafted lace - read it patiently and all of its secrets will appear in time. Keep in mind that Towner's first paragraph includes the line "Never believe me. I lie all the time." Bit by bit, the details behind Towner's past materialize, knitting a web of overlapping truths and lies, light and darkness, as she herself comes to terms with what has happened to her.
Not only did I love the atmosphere and the story, but I fell in love with the lace as well. This book made me want to take up lace-making, and I've tried my hand at coffee reading, so why not lace reading as well?
Also check out the website for the book, which includes the first few chapters to read, tips of reading lace, and a great map of Salem which includes spots in the book.