Book Review: The Map of True Places – Brunonia Barry

Title: The Map of True Places
Author: Brunonia Barry
ISBN: 9780061624780
Pages: 416
Release Date: May 4, 2010
Publisher: William Morrow
Genre: Contemporary Fiction
Source: Publisher
Rating: 4 out of 5

Summary:

In her second novel, Brunonia Barry takes the reader back to the atmospheric setting of Salem, Massachusetts, but this time it’s to tell the story of Zee Finch.  Zee is a therapist working in Boston, still haunted by the ghosts of her mother’s suicide.  When one of her patients, Lilly Braedon, who had bipolar disorder just like Zee’s mother, kills herself, it dredges up old memories and Zee is forced to come to terms with her past.

Review:

Though I’d heard great things about Brunonia Barry’s first novel, The Lace Reader, it took me awhile to get around to reading it.  I vowed not to make that mistake again with The Map of True Places and made it a point to start it almost as soon as it arrived on my doorstep.

The Map of True Places features the character of Zee Finch, who is a real enigma for the reader.  She’s very broken by her past and has been unable to accept her mother’s suicide, even though it happened many years ago.  She hasn’t really been able to move on past that – even her career choice was affected by her mother’s death.  However, she’s also incredibly appealing – the reader wants, above all, for Zee to find some semblance of healing, to be able to move on and really live life on her own terms.

I also appreciated Zee’s devotion to her father, Finch.  Their story was touching and very moving.  In the book, he is in the advanced stages of Parkinson’s disease, and Zee is determined to help him in any way she can, even when he doesn’t seem to want it.  It’s sweet, but it also says a lot about Zee as a character.  Though she doesn’t appear to be the strongest person because of her issues with the past, the way she tackles her father’s problems show that, underneath, she really is a strong, capable woman.

This book moves a bit more slowly than Barry’s debut novel.  That’s not a criticism by any means; The Map of True Places is a much more introspective novel.  It’s quiet and thoughtful.  The driving force behind it is the skillfully drawn characters, rather than advancement of the plot.  The reader is taken in by these incredible personalities and really gets to know them over the course of the novel.  It’s a lyrical, emotionally gripping book, and I’m glad I read it sooner rather than later.

Comments

  1. Well, I am guilty as charged. I have had The Lace Reader on my shelves since last August. I keep telling myself I am holding it for the RIP Challenge, but the truth is I am just overwhelmed with too much to read. That book really drew alot of opinion, good and bad, plus all of that fuss over the unreliable narrator. Sounds like Barry took a different approach on this one, much more gentle.

  2. Well, I am guilty as charged. I have had The Lace Reader on my shelves since last August. I keep telling myself I am holding it for the RIP Challenge, but the truth is I am just overwhelmed with too much to read. That book really drew alot of opinion, good and bad, plus all of that fuss over the unreliable narrator. Sounds like Barry took a different approach on this one, much more gentle.

  3. I was not a fan of the Lace Reader, so I’m not sure about this one. But I’ll likely break down. Good to know that it is more introspective. And I generally like character-driven novels.

  4. I was not a fan of the Lace Reader, so I’m not sure about this one. But I’ll likely break down. Good to know that it is more introspective. And I generally like character-driven novels.

  5. My book group read THE LACE READER last year and had some who liked it and some who didn’t. I was in the positive category and so I’m looking forward to this book. I gather it is still set in Salem, which will be nice. Thanks for sharing!

  6. My book group read THE LACE READER last year and had some who liked it and some who didn’t. I was in the positive category and so I’m looking forward to this book. I gather it is still set in Salem, which will be nice. Thanks for sharing!

  7. I’m like Sandy, I’ve had The Lace Reader sitting here for far too long. I think I need to read it first, even though this one sounds really good.

  8. I’m like Sandy, I’ve had The Lace Reader sitting here for far too long. I think I need to read it first, even though this one sounds really good.

  9. 4 on 5 is it? You sure have a different rack than I do. Keep these reviews coming!

  10. 4 on 5 is it? You sure have a different rack than I do. Keep these reviews coming!

  11. I read The Lace Reader a few months ago with my book club, and while it wasn’t an absolute favorite, I have been wanting to read more from Barry. I am excited to try this book, as it really sounds like my cup of tea. I am glad you liked it and that it was such a wonderful read for you. It does sound very interesting, and I loved your insightful review. Thanks for sharing this review with us!!

  12. I read The Lace Reader a few months ago with my book club, and while it wasn’t an absolute favorite, I have been wanting to read more from Barry. I am excited to try this book, as it really sounds like my cup of tea. I am glad you liked it and that it was such a wonderful read for you. It does sound very interesting, and I loved your insightful review. Thanks for sharing this review with us!!

  13. It sounds great! Lace Reader is still on my TBR pile but I’m thinking of reading it soon. If I enjoy it I’ll make sure to read this one too!

  14. It sounds great! Lace Reader is still on my TBR pile but I’m thinking of reading it soon. If I enjoy it I’ll make sure to read this one too!

  15. I didn’t like The Lace Reader, so truthfully, I’m not too sure if I’ll be reading this one. It sounds interesting enough and maybe I would like this one, but for now, I’ll pass on it. Thanks for the review though – another great one!

  16. I didn’t like The Lace Reader, so truthfully, I’m not too sure if I’ll be reading this one. It sounds interesting enough and maybe I would like this one, but for now, I’ll pass on it. Thanks for the review though – another great one!

  17. I still haven’t read The Lace Reader, but I did loan it to a friend, so I feel less guilty than when it was starting at me from the shelf. I have a review copy of this one, and I hope to read it soon. I’m glad you liked it!

  18. I still haven’t read The Lace Reader, but I did loan it to a friend, so I feel less guilty than when it was starting at me from the shelf. I have a review copy of this one, and I hope to read it soon. I’m glad you liked it!

  19. I really enjoyed this book for it’s quiet, more introspective tone. I haven’t read TLR yet, well, maybe about a third of it, I had to set it aside and never made it back and I’m really hoping to get back to it soon. I’m looking forward to reading more by her. I’m glad you enjoyed it too!

  20. I really enjoyed this book for it’s quiet, more introspective tone. I haven’t read TLR yet, well, maybe about a third of it, I had to set it aside and never made it back and I’m really hoping to get back to it soon. I’m looking forward to reading more by her. I’m glad you enjoyed it too!

  21. I agree that this wasn’t quite as fast-paced or mysterious as The Lace Reader, but I liked the way it flowed.

  22. I agree that this wasn’t quite as fast-paced or mysterious as The Lace Reader, but I liked the way it flowed.

  23. Messenger says:

    I loved the Lace Reader and I was just as addicted to this story as I was with Lace Reader. I enjoyed the threads that put the two stories together as well as the truly human characters. I also enjoy seeing how Barry develops mental illness into a real human experience.
    There is only one thing that confuses me and I am not sure if anyone else caught this but it deals with the times frames around Maureen’s pregnancy. Barry writes that she became pregnant in June but Zee’s birthday is the last day of August. That would mean that Maureen was pregnant for either 3 months or a year and 3 months. Did anyone else see this?

    I am really looking forward to the next book, no matter what! I recommend The Lace Reader and The Map of True Places to everyone that is looking for a good read.

  24. Messenger says:

    I loved the Lace Reader and I was just as addicted to this story as I was with Lace Reader. I enjoyed the threads that put the two stories together as well as the truly human characters. I also enjoy seeing how Barry develops mental illness into a real human experience.
    There is only one thing that confuses me and I am not sure if anyone else caught this but it deals with the times frames around Maureen’s pregnancy. Barry writes that she became pregnant in June but Zee’s birthday is the last day of August. That would mean that Maureen was pregnant for either 3 months or a year and 3 months. Did anyone else see this?

    I am really looking forward to the next book, no matter what! I recommend The Lace Reader and The Map of True Places to everyone that is looking for a good read.

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