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Still don't know what lace reading is
The Lace Reader begins with an interesting premise, but quickly bogs down in fairly incomprehensible detail of lace reading. Towner is a beguiling character whose personality unfolds as the tale is revealed. She was what kept me reading. The “lace reading” of the title was so shallowly explained that I simply skimmed those parts (which did NOT harm the plot in the slightest). I wondered if the author was any clearer in her understanding or knowledge of lace reading than I was.
Cal, the prime antagonist, is drawn with no redeeming qualities and consequently is quickly boring although necessary as catalyst. The “Calvinist” group he leads is so skimpily explained that you are never sure what they stand for or why they act as they do. Rafferty, the “hero”, is more surely drawn, which makes him fascinating to discover as he is revealed.
I enjoyed the book and would recommend it for book groups. There are many topics for discussion – mental illness, mental and physical abuse, religious fervor, witchcraft, the ties between twins, self-help groups, charismatic leaders (both good and bad) and the influence they maintain over others and their responsibility for the group’s actions.