Book Review : "The Map Of True Places"

The Map of True PlacesThe Map of True Places by Brunonia Barry
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Despite some quibbles, on the whole I really enjoyed this novel. Briefly, it's about Zee Finch, a young woman whose father--an authority on the author Hawthorne--is declining rapidly from the effects of Parkinson's disease. She leaves her fiance in Boston and heads home to take care of him and to recover from the shock of the suicide of one of her patients. (She's a psychologist.)

To me, the real star of this novel is the Salem setting. I feel like I've just spent time there myself and quite enjoyed it. Zee's father lives a stone's throw from the famous House of the Seven Gables, immortalized by his beloved Hawthorne. This book is rich with local history, which is offered as an organic part of the story and not in dry plot-stoppers. Reading this, I could almost smell the sea air, sense the gloom of the cursed House, and feel the fun of the witchy tourist spots.

Anyway, Zee comes to question everything she knows and all the choices she has made. In effect,she learns to turn off the GPS and find her way by celestial navigation, both literal and metaphorical.

I did have a couple of quibbles, as I said. There is a straight-from-central-casting stock romance novel love interest named...wait for it..."Hawk." It was hard to read about him when I found myself rolling my eyes every time his name came up. And there is a rather hard to believe situation near the end, but it's not as important as you might think. (I don't want to give anything away here.)

All in all, it's an engaging tale of family secrets, a town's history, and the choices that we make that shade everything that comes after. Recommended.

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hedgewitch said…
You make this one sound very appealing,Shay. I am very fond of novels that immerse one in a strong sense of place. Too often we let other media do that and forget that the travel spell of words is the original. Thanks for another great review
(And knowing me, you know that a silly romantic figure named Hawk only makes me more inclined to think I'd like this one.) ;)