The Map of True Places by Brunonia Barry

The Map of True Places, by Brunonia Barry, is a thoughtful, happy/sad novel centered on Hepzibah (known as Zee) Finch and her small circle of friends and family. Her life activities, especially her career as a therapist, are built on the foundation of having a mother who was bipolar and committed suicide in front of Zee when she was still a child. Set in Boston, Salem and the surrounding areas, historical events also share a part in the plot – from her father living across the street from THE House of Seven Gables and being one of the country’s most renowned Hawthorne scholars to the recreated Friendship sailing boat serving as a tourist attraction and a teaching center. Zee’s past and present overlap as she has a client patient (Lilly) who is bipolar and acts out in many ways as Zee’s mother Maureen had. The loving home created for her after her mother’s death by her father, simply known as Finch to everyone, and his significant other, known as Melville, helped Zee to have a more stable adolescence once she was forced to quit stealing people boats and taking them for a ride to be abandoned in various ports around the area. Finch’s advancing condition of Parkinson’s Disease and dementia hold Zee in place as she tries to sort out her life – her broken engagement, her career, her new love interest, her relationship to her “fathers”, uncle and her friends. Behind everything else is the menace she feels from the man she is sure caused the death of Lilly, although she is unable to convince anyone that he is a very real danger in the past and the present.

This is Brunonia Barry’s second novel. Her first The Lace Reader was on the New York Times best-seller list for several weeks. The Lace Reader is scheduled to be one of the books used in Marlene’s monthly book discussions in the 2010 – 2011 fiscal year.

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