On Folly Beach

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On Folly Beach

Emmy lives in Indiana. The life she planned comes to a halt when her beloved husband, Ben is killed in Afghanistan. After several months of mourning, her mother, Paige suggests Emmy buy a bookstore, Folly’s Finds, in the small community of Folly Beach where Paige grew up. Emmy has a degree in library science but does she want to move all the way to South Carolina? She’s not sure until she opens a box of books that was shipped by the current owner. In the margins of several books are intriguing notes. Emmy wants to know their story and to do that she needs to go to Folly Beach.
 
It’s 1942 in Folly’s Beach and the three females that live in a house together are about to have their lives change. Cat is 19 and already a widow. Her husband was killed at Pearl Harbor just weeks ago. Cat isn’t exactly a weeping widow and is ready to hit the beach and dance. Her slightly older cousin, Maggie isn’t too sure about going and besides someone has to watch her 9-year-old sister, Lulu. Cat finally convinces Maggie to head to the beach where they each find a guy interested in them. You would think that would be perfect except Cat can’t accept that anyone would want Maggie over her.
 
Emmy is buying Folly’s Finds from Maggie’s daughter-in-law, Abigail. She quickly learns that this is not going to be a straightforward business transaction. First, Lulu uses the yard to make bottle trees and has since she was a child. Next, Abigail wants to retire but doesn’t seem to be leaving quickly. And Abigail’s son, Heath seems to think it’s his mission in life to get Emmy out of her house and into the world. As Emmy starts uncovering the secrets of the family on margin note at a time, will things unravel or will a true love story be revealed?
 
The characters in this story are fantastic. They each seem to have a depth that gives them life. Cat is 19 and selfish. Maggie tries to excuse her actions because her mother died when Cat was young but she still comes across as a selfish bitch. Maggie is almost too good to be true yet every once in a while her real personality comes through. Lulu though is one of the best characters in both eras. In the ‘40s, she’s presented as a typical 9-year-old child. As an older adult, she has moods and doesn’t like charge. However, she will occasionally let people see her soft side. It makes me wonder about the years between her childhood and her adulthood. Emmy deeply loved her husband and is having a hard time dealing with her lost. Her need of the familiar is in direct conflict with her need to grow. Anyway, everyone is very well done.
 
Not only are the characters outstanding, so are the eras depicted. Ms White is able to express the feelings of uncertainty and fear that was experienced in many coastal areas. Are there really U-boats out there? And the pure patriotic feeling of the day by everyone, is expressed well when those not in uniform come up with excuses why they aren’t. Modern Folly Beach is done just as well with references to Hurricane Hugo and its devastation to the area as well as the structural changes in town. Many building that were there in the ‘40s are no longer and new buildings have sprung up. Attitudes have changed yet many stayed the same such as the distrust of outsiders. Excellent portrayal.
 
The book jumps from era to era giving you a little bit of each story. This is where I had problems. No sooner did I get into one part of the story and it jumped to the other. I didn’t always see the connection between the two parts but instead seemed to flounder as I found my footing in the new era.
 
This book is pretty much two stories in one with each intertwined with the other and totally inseperatable. Secrets come out that can shatter long held beliefs. Still the love of family comes through. Emmy is forced to face a new life, one she didn’t want and never expected. And readers know that during war somethings never change because not everyone comes home.

Book Blurb for On Folly Beach

The latest Southern novel from the acclaimed bestselling and award- winning author of The Memory of Water.
 
To most people, Folly Beach, South Carolina, is simply the last barrier island before the Atlantic. To some, it's a sanctuary, which is why Janie Hamilton's mother encourages her to buy the local book store, Folly's Finds, hoping it will distract Janie from the loss of her husband in Afghanistan.
 
Janie is at first resistant, but intrigued after finding love letters and an image of a beautiful bottle tree in a box of used books from Folly's Finds, and decides to take the plunge. The store's seller insists on one condition: Janie must allow Lulu, the late owner's elderly sister, to continue selling her bottle trees from its back yard. Historically, bottle trees were brought by African slaves to the American South, and Janie had grown up with one in her backyard, and it has always been a symbol of refuge to her.
 
Janie generally ignores Lulu as she sifts through the love letters, wanting to learn more. But the more she discovers of the letters' authors, the closer she feels to Lulu. As details of a possible murder and a mysterious disappearance during World War II are revealed, the two women discover that circumstances beyond their control, sixty years apart, have brought them together, here on Folly Beach. And it is here that their war-ravaged hearts can find hope for a second chance...

Night Owl Reviews Jun, 2010 4.50