Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Review #75: On Folly Beach by Karen White

Title: On Folly Beach
Author: Karen White
Genre: Fiction
Format: Review Copy from Publicist
Publisher: New American Library (Penguin)
ISBN: 978-0-451-22921-2
Price/Pages: $15.00/387

My Description:

Folly Beach, South Carolina is the setting for this magnificent novel. It is a special place for those born and raised and a sanctuary to those new souls needing refuge.

Emmy Hamilton has just lost her husband in Afghanistan. Feeling lost and heartbroken, her mother guides her to Folly Beach, a place she knew well as a child. Emmy, a librarian and book lover, is encouraged to buy the local bookstore, Folly Finds.
Perhaps this will be the distraction she needs to heal from her loss.

Though Emmy agrees, she is not prepared for the history that comes along with the store.
Lulu, the late owner's sister, is a permanent staple at the bookstore; opinionated, salty and not overly welcoming to Emmy. But Abigail, Lulu's niece, and current caretaker of the store, insists she stays. Lulu is a gifted artist of bottle trees and makes quite a good living in the backyard of the bookstore. Not wanting to disrupt a good thing, Emmy agrees to work side by side with Lulu and forgive her anti-social ways.

While adapting to the store and her new home on the beach, Emmy discovers love letters in a box of used books at the store. Written in the margins of several books are urgent messages of what seems like a passionate and dangerous affair. Intrigued she investigates further and finds a tangled web of secrets and lies that all involve Lulu, her sister Maggie, her cousin Cat and a stranger named Peter.

With Lulu's nephew, Heath, in tow and a cast of side characters, Emmy struggles through her own loss and grief while sorting out someone else's from the past.

My Review:

This novel was simply marvelous. I, unfortunately, had it on the back burner while trying to finish up several other books and finally finished it this week. I'm so glad I did. Karen White is becoming a favorite author of mine. After reading The Girl on Legare Street and The House at Tradd Street, I am such a big fan now.

This novel had a bit of everything, like her others. The Low Country setting of South Carolina and Folly Beach is enough for me, truly captivating and inspiring. The book is told in two stories. The story of Maggie in 1942 and the story of Emmy in 2009.

Maggie's time was full of the war, the rations, the simple times, and first loves. Maggie was the first owner of Folly Finds. After losing her mother, she forms a family with her little sister, Lulu and her cousin Cat. Cat loses her husband, Jim, in the war and comes to live with them. Beautiful and untamed, Cat has always been the one Maggie has to look out for.

Folly Beach at that time was host to many musicians and dances were a common past time on the weekends. Maggie meets and falls in love with Peter at one of these dances. But his presence will not bring all good things to Maggie's life.

The incidents that happen between Maggie, Cat, Lulu and Peter are briefly captured in the frantic love notes Emmy discovers. Through these little glimpses Emmy finds a love triangle, war secrets and murder.

And it takes 60 years to get the truth.

Rating: 6 stars/ 6 stars
I have to give this one my all as well. Karen White is a very accomplished story teller. She weaves romance, mystery and history all in one. Her characters are certainly flawed and real to the reader. She is not afraid to show the layers and give the story time. The other two books I mentioned above had a bit of paranormal in them. This one did not, though Emmy's character was written with a lot of intuitive feelings towards her surroundings. The emotion of her loss connected to the spirit of Maggie and the losses she experienced. Such a heartwarming read.

Book Club Note:
I sold it to my book club just last week and we are now reading it for August. So, yes! this would be a great pick for book clubs out there. It even has a little reading guide and Q&A in the back to help.

Author Profile:

Thank you to Joy for sending me a copy to read and review.

Happy Reading and as always, thanks for stopping by!

red headed book child


Julie@My5monkeys said...

adding to my pile. sounds like a good tiangle and beach read ;)

Tales of Whimsy said...

6? Nice :) Sounds awesome. Great review.

Staci said...

I so loved this one too. One of my favorites for the year. Wonderful review!

Stacy at The Novel Life said...

yeah! you finished it! and loved it too :-)
i so adore her books!!! isn't she just fabulous!!! and the name "folly beach" i just want to move there! and my bf has promised to teach me how to shag! so now i'll fit in with the locals when i make my move - LOL

Marce said...

Ok you have made me realise I need to read House on Tradd street, she sounds like a great author.