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October 29, 2008

Author's dream leads to bestselling 'Lace'

A Salem writer had a premonition in a dream, used a seed from that dream and nurtured it into a bestselling novel.

Brunonia Barry, 58, who wrote her first screenplay in her 20s, has achieved critical success with "The Lace Reader," her first book. It is set in Salem with many references to sites familiar to North Shore residents.

Barry will give a book reading at The Bookstore on Main Street tomorrow at 7 p.m.

Barry first self-published "The Lace Reader." But because it was so well received, a New York publishing company took over and published it. Janice Severance of The Bookstore said in the beginning she could not obtain enough copies to meet readers' demand until the major publisher took over.

The story's main character, a woman called Towner, comes from a family of Salem women who can see into the future by peering through a piece of Ipswich lace. Towner, however, renounced her gift of lace reading until her great aunt disappeared, which brought her home to Salem to delve into the mystery.

Barry herself has a cherished piece of lace that was made by the nuns at Saint Chretienne Academy in Salem.

"The nuns made the lace during the Depression. It was the bobbin lace like the kind made in Ipswich," she said.

The lace was a gift from her Irish grandmother, who died when Barry was in her 20s. The author is part of a large extended Irish family from Marblehead.

"I carried the lace with me everywhere, when I lived in Manhattan, Chicago and Los Angeles. Often I would have it in a bedside table drawer," she said.

Barry returned home to the North Shore in 1995, after living in California. She had the initial idea for her book when she and her husband were enlarging the kitchen in their Marblehead home.

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