Book Review: The Map of True Places

The Map of True Places by Brunonia Barry

I actually listened to Barry's first title The Lace Reader while piecing a quilt last year (or was it the year before?), and while it didn't have my fully attention much of the time, I found it a pleasant enough diversion. When the lovely ladies at FSB offered me a review copy of her newest, I said sure!

I have mixed feelings about this title, I'll be honest.

Zee (real name: Hepzibah) is a therapist who's foundation is rocked when one of her patients commits suicide and Zee feels she could - or should - have stopped it. In the course of coming to terms with the loss, she goes home to discover her father's Parkinson's disease has rapidly progressed, and that his live-in lover has left the scene. Zee then moves in with her father to care for him, find herself and come to grips with things outside her control, and in the process learn more about the death of her mother, her family, and a new lover of her own...

The last 100 pages of the novel had several surprises that I didn't see coming (and one I did), and I really enjoyed that portion of the novel. However, the first two thirds felt as though Barry was trying so hard to be "literary" that she kept losing me as a reader. I'd lose interest, put the book down, and wander off to do something else. If a book has me, it HAS me - I don't wander away. Zee was just a bit bland for my taste, and I found it hard to empathize with her wishy-washy-ness. That said, the writing was fine and the setting of Salem, MA is great - Barry just felt as though she was trying too hard, overplotting and "dragging it out", as it were. I guess I like a story that moves along a bit more - I don't need high speed car chases or shootouts, just more forward progression...

Despite my mixed feelings, I liked the twists the story took, and I'm glad I read it for that aspect. This title has gotten great reviews for the most part, so give it a whirl and see if your opinion matches mine, or blows me outta the water. ;-)

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