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The Map of True Places Hardcover – May 4, 2010

82 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Barry's considerable if overplotted latest delves into the long-lingering effects of a mother's suicide. Fifteen years ago, Maureen Finch, a discontented wife and bipolar mother to 13-year-old Zee, commits suicide while Zee watches. Flash forward to the present day, and Zee is a therapist with a new patient, Lilly Braedon, who is far too much like Maureen, and after Lilly kills herself, Zee walks away from her practice and travels back to Salem, Mass., to visit her father and his partner, Melville, only to find that her father's Parkinson's disease is advancing rapidly. With Melville missing, Zee becomes a full-time caregiver and must face the half-truths and twisted memories that have compromised her connection to her father, all the while examining how her mother's legacy extends into her life and a fledgling romance. This is a lovingly told story with many well-drawn characters, who sooner or later reconsider the courses charted by personal decisions and circumstance. But there is almost too much story here, and Barry (The Lace Reader) compromises the third act with a weak subplot about Lilly's traumatic last days that reads as an intrusion on an otherwise well-told tale. (May)
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From Booklist

Psychotherapist Zee Finch is dealt a blow when one of her patients, a troubled bipolar housewife named Lilly, leaps off a bridge to her death. The tragedy brings up memories of Zee’s own mother’s suicide, prompting her to go see her father, Finch, in Salem. She is startled to find Finch’s Parkinson’s disease is much more advanced than she’d been led to believe, and that he has kicked his partner, Melville, out of the house. Zee decides to take a leave of absence from her practice to care for Finch, a move that puts a strain on her engagement to Michael, one of her mentor’s closest friends. As her relationship with Michael comes to an end, Zee tries to puzzle out what caused Finch to abruptly break up with his beloved Melville. She also tries to make sense of Lilly’s death, unaware that the dangerous man Lilly was involved with now wants to exact revenge on her. Like her hit debut, The Lace Reader (2008), Barry’s second novel features an involving, intricately woven story and vivid descriptions of historic Salem. --Kristine Huntley --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 416 pages
  • Publisher: William Morrow; First Edition edition (May 4, 2010)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0061624780
  • ISBN-13: 978-0061624780
  • Product Dimensions: 6 x 1.3 x 9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 3 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (82 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,494,175 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Born and raised in Massachusetts, Brunonia Barry studied literature and creative writing at Green Mountain College in Vermont and at the University of New Hampshire. After nearly a decade in Hollywood, Barry returned to Massachusetts, where, along with her husband, she founded an innovative company that creates award-winning word, visual and logic puzzles. Happily married, Barry lives with her husband and her twelve-year old Golden Retriever named Byzantium.

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

24 of 25 people found the following review helpful By E. Griffin VINE VOICE on May 5, 2010
Format: Hardcover Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
The Map of True Places is a compelling novel that subtly captures and holds the reader until you suddenly realize you are immersed in the story and characters. The book is superbly written, with well-developed characters, smooth transitions between people and places, and pacing that transparently changes aligned with the situation.

Zee, the main character of the book, is an accomplished psychiatrist with a growing new practice, has a beloved mentor and a handsome successful fiancé. Zee is also an insecure, vulnerable, and lonely young woman, haunted by the suicide of her manic depressive mother when Zee was a child. When a patient of Zee's, a bi-polar young mother commits suicide, Zee runs away back home. There, she discovers that her father is estranged from his long-time partner and his Parkinson's disease is much worse than she knew.

Deciding to stay and care for her father, Zee takes a leave of absence from work and her life. More secure in her childhood environment, Zee begins to explore her feelings of guilt, impatience, estrangement, and loss. Her interactions with the people in her hometown are wonderfully done, providing the reader with insights about Zee as well as the richness these characters add to the story.

Zee begins to feel that something wasn't quite right about the suicide of her patient, which parallels a deeper feeling about something not quite right about her mother's death. In the midst of all this, Zee breaks up with her fiancé, falls in love with a very different man, re-establishes a relationship with her father's partner, and manages to improve her father's health to a point where he can live at home with caretakers.
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32 of 37 people found the following review helpful By C. Quinn on March 28, 2010
Format: Hardcover Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
This is another moving yet mysterious tale from Brunonia Barry, who returns to Salem and some familiar characters in this wonderful novel. I loved Zee, a therapist whose life was shaped by her own mother's suicide. When she returns to her childhood home to care for her father, a rapidly deteriorating Parkinson's patient, she is forced to assess her life and her understanding of herself and others. The underlying mysteries are not difficult to unravel, but it is in finding some level of truth that Zee also finds herself. Though this story was not as dark as The Lace Reader: A Novel, it was no less emotionally compelling. Definitely a must read!
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59 of 74 people found the following review helpful By Susan Tunis on June 1, 2010
Format: Hardcover
"It's not down on any map; true places never are."
-- Herman Melville

Apparently, I was the only person in America not raving about The Lace Reader last year. I didn't hate it, but I had a really hard time relating to the female protagonist, Towner Whitney. Having been curious enough to have read Ms. Barry's second novel, The Map of True Places, again I find myself in the disenchanted minority--and with the exact same complaint!

Brunonia Barry's new stand alone novel is set in the same world--the same Salem--as her first. Characters from The Lace Reader are referenced or make brief appearances. However, this novel is more grounded in the real world of psychology and medicine than with the ethereal subjects she had explored previously. The central character is Hepzibah Finch, known as "Zee." (And what is it with these names, Brunonia?).

Zee is a psychologist in crisis. She's just lost her first patient, and is having a hard time accepting that Lilly Braedon committed suicide. Zee's own mother had killed herself when Zee was a teen, and feelings about the two women have become entangled in a very non-clinical way. Meanwhile, other areas of Zee's life are falling apart. Her father's Parkinson's disease is far more advanced than she had been led to believe. She suddenly needs to step in as a care-giver, putting additional strain on an already strained relationship.

My frustration with this central character exists on several levels, but here is one issue I can illustrate easily enough. Allow me to share some quotes from the novel. All of these are spoken by, or refer to, Zee:

"I don't know what I want."

"The truth was, she didn't know if she didn't want to get married at all, or if she just hated the process.
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful By Cheryl A. Reynolds VINE VOICE on May 30, 2010
Format: Hardcover Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
Novel set in Salem, MA about Zee Finch, a woman in her 30's who comes to her hometown from Boston, where she'd been working as a psychologist. Her father has Parkinson's disease and at his request, his longtime boyfriend Melville had kept from her how seriously ill Finch was. But now Finch has kicked Melville out of the house over some old slight and Zee is left to try to figure out how to care for him.

She also is mourning a patient of hers, a bi-polar woman named Lilly who committed suicide and reminds Zee so much of her own mother that lines become blurred. Zee's engagement crumbles as she stays away from Boston longer and realizes that she really didn't want to marry Michael anyway.

I really enjoyed this story, although I did see the plot twist coming from a mile away. I like the author's writing style, blending a bit of the mystical with the practical and capturing the essence of Salem, lots of literary and historical references too. Some of the characters from her previous book, The Lace Reader, are briefly mentioned also and I hope she writes more stories set here.

Her characters, even the minor ones, are wonderfully drawn--I could clearly see them in my mind's eye and felt I knew them very well by the end of the book. In short, a great escape of a novel that leaves you with a little something to think about while you're enjoying the ride.
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