I heard about Brunonia Barry’s novel The Lace Reader yesterday via Book Club Girl’s blog. Book Club Girl has an interview with Barry that really intrigued me, and you ought to give it a listen if my description of the novel intrigues you. I was lucky to be one of the first ten commenters, which means Book Club Girl will be sending me a free advance reader edition of The Lace Reader.
Perhaps one of the most intriguing aspects of the novel is how it came to be published. Trying to get a book published is hard, trying, and often disheartening work. Rather than spend years trying to find a publisher, Barry published her book herself. The book became popular with readers and book clubs, and it attracted the attention of publishers who then had to bid for her book. I love that part of the story. Barry was able to score a $2 million book deal; the novel will be published by William Morrow and has already generated film industry buzz.
The novel is the story of Towner Whitney, a native of Salem, MA who can read the future in patterns of Ipswich lace. She returns to her hometown after the murder of two women. Barry says that her inspiration for the story was Joseph Campbell’s theory of the monomyth, around which I built a senior English elective at my school. Needless to say, a new book deliberately written with the Hero’s Journey in mind intrigued me. Barry explains that “Most stories that follow this pattern have a decidedly male orientation: a lone individual acts heroically and saves the day. I wondered if there might be an alternate form, a feminine Hero’s Journey.” Barry is right. Of the books I chose, all of them had a male protagonist, and it wasn’t that I didn’t want to find a book that had a female protagonist — I couldn’t. I chose books like The Iliad, Sir Gawain and the Green Knight, Le Morte D’Arthur, The Ramayana, The Hobbit, Star Wars, and Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows (which was nixed by my principal), among a few other selected texts. In part I am intrigued by this book for possible inclusion in my course.
I am about one-quarter into Northanger Abbey, and it’s been a delight. I love the “heroine” Catherine, and I am looking forward to discovering what the Editrix of Austen Blog loves about Mr. Tilney (I’ve only seen him twice so far). Austen, as always, has a pitch-perfect ear for conversation, and I was completely charmed by chapter six, in which she recounts a dialogue between Catherine and Isabella Thorpe (whom I also adore). I should be finishing Emma this weekend, so please look for a review some time on Sunday. I have decided I will read Charles Dickens next on DailyLit, but I am having trouble choosing a book. I have narrowed down the list to three selections, and if you have thoughts about which one I should choose, please leave me a comment.
David Copperfield would take me more than a year in 447 daily installments, but A Tale of Two Cities and Great Expectations are broken into 170 and 231 parts respectively. When selecting novels for DailyLit, I try to choose books that I think I would otherwise not read, and all three books fit that description, so if you don’t help me, I’m afraid I’ll have to rely on eenie, meenie, miney, and moe for assistance. Here’s incentive for you: if you successfully convince me to read the book of your choice, I will send you a DailyLit subscription to the book of your choice (so long as it’s free), and you can enjoy a bit of DailyLit in your own inbox. What do you say?