The Map of True Places: Book summary and reviews of The Map of True Places by Brunonia Barry

The Map of True Places

By Brunonia Barry

The Map of True Places
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  • Published in USA  May 2010,
    416 pages.

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Book Summary

Zee Finch has come a long way from a motherless childhood spent stealing boats—a talent that earned her the nickname Trouble. She's now a respected psychotherapist working with the world-famous Dr. Liz Mattei. She's also about to marry one of Boston's most eligible bachelors. But the suicide of Zee's patient Lilly Braedon throws Zee into emotional chaos and takes her back to places she though she'd left behind.

What starts as a brief visit home to Salem after Lilly's funeral becomes the beginning of a larger journey for Zee. Her father, Finch, long ago diagnosed with Parkinson's disease, has been hiding how sick he really is. His longtime companion, Melville, has moved out, and it now falls to Zee to help her father through this difficult time. Their relationship, marked by half-truths and the untimely death of her mother, is strained and awkward.

Overwhelmed by her new role, and uncertain about her future, Zee destroys the existing map of her life and begins a new journey, one that will take her not only into her future but into her past as well. Like the sailors of old Salem who navigated by looking at the stars, Zee has to learn to find her way through uncharted waters to the place she will ultimately call home.

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Reviews

Media Reviews

"Starred Review. Although marred by unnecessary 'come-to-realize' moments, this woman-in-jeopardy thriller retooled with gothic elements-shifting identities, secrets and portents, a deserted cottage and a missing suicide note-manages to transcend its component cliches." - Kirkus Reviews

"This is a lovingly told story with many well-drawn characters, who sooner or later reconsider the courses charted by personal decisions and circumstance. But there is almost too much story here.. " - Publishers Weekly

"Although readers will be perched on the edge of their seats while consuming this mesmerizing, suspenseful tale, there are a few convoluted and confusing aspects among the details." - Library Journal

"Masterfully woven with a cast of unforgettable characters set loose in a world so specific and real, The Map of True Places is a gripping quest for truth that kept me reading at the edge of my seat to the very last page." - Lisa Genova, New York Times Bestselling author of Still Alice

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Reader Reviews

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Rated 5 of 5 of 5 by Rosemary K. (Saginaw, MI)
An Exquisite Map
Brunonia Barry's "The Map of True Places" is a wondrous, magical story combining folk legends, psychotherapy, and American literature. Setting her tale in the same locale as her "The Lace Maker" (and occasionally alluding to characters from that same book), Barry makes the reader long to experience life in that historic Atlantic area.

The primary characters are Zee (short for Hepzibah, as in "The House of the Seven Gables"), her ailing father and his friend (affectionately known as Melville), and a young woman who commits suicide. Zee's late mother Maureen had always dreamed of experiencing "The Great Love," but this never happened. Zee wonders if she is destined to fulfill her mother's dream.

I love Brunonia Barry's writing: I read slowly, savoring her words. Except for a few sections where the story seemed to drag, I believe "The Map of True Places" can give the reader an amazing experience.

Rated 4 of 5 of 5 by Maryanne K. (Spanaway, WA)
Map of True Places
I enjoyed this book. It's a fast, fairly light read with interesting characters. The literary connections, the setting of Salem, MA, and the details related to caring for an ailing parent add to the appeal of the book. I had no expectations (not having The Lace Reader) when starting this book, but was pleasantly surprised.

Rated 5 of 5 of 5 by Linda Z. (Corydon, IN)
The Map of True Places
When I first started reading this book, I had doubts that I would enjoy it. However, the more I read the more I liked it. There were a lot of unexpected twists and turns in the plot. I had no idea how things were going to progress. The appeal of this book would probably be more to women than men particularly those people facing the problem of caring for aging and sick parents. I can see some lively discussions for book clubs concerning the different characters. I loved the book and am now looking forward to reading The Lace Reader by this author.

Rated 4 of 5 of 5 by Pam W. (Montpelier, VT)
Secrets told and Untold
This is a complex tale of self-discovery that really resonated deeply with me. It's not the kind of story that wraps up neatly and then evaporates. It sticks with you and demands answers and self exploration.

Rated 5 of 5 of 5 by Marlys D. (Grand Rapids, MI)
Life Map
Another winner from Brunonia Barry! I love her quirky characters, including the "character" of Salem, MA. Zee's continuing struggle to find her true place in the world makes for compelling reading.

Rated 3 of 5 of 5 by Sue S.
NAVIGATING LIFE'S TWISTS & TURNS
Early in her novel, Brunonia Berry includes a quote from Herman Melville: " It is not down on any map. True places never are." I found this book with its setting by the sea to be about navigation: navigating the twists and turns of one's life. But the more I read about Zee Finch and her journey, I found myself getting impatient and hoping for a detour. For me, the book needed more focus.

...26 more reader reviews

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Author Information

Brunonia Barry Author Biography

Photo by Martha Everson

Brunonia Barry is the New York Times and international best selling author of The Lace Reader and The Map of True Places. Her work has been translated into more than thirty languages. She was the first American author to win the International Women's Fiction Festival's Baccante Award and was a past recipient of Ragdale Artists' Colony's Strnad Fellowship as well as the winner of New England Book Festival's award for Best Fiction.

Born and raised in Massachusetts, Brunonia studied literature and creative writing at Green Mountain College in Vermont and at the University of New Hampshire, spending a year in Dublin where she studied James Joyce's Ulysses. After college, she worked in public relations for several theatrical productions in Chicago, including ...

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