On Folly Beach by Karen White
Publisher: NAL Accent
Genre: Contemporary, Suspense
Length: Full (387 pages)
Rating: 4.5 Books
Reviewed by Camellia
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...
Emotions seem magnified when wartime related. Grieving for the lose of a loved one and knowing when it has been “long enough” and that it is time to pick up the pieces and move on never comes easy and may never come for some.
On Folly Beach intertwines a story of people coping during World War II in 1942-43 with Emmy’s story in 2009. Emmy’s husband came home in a coffin from Afghanistan six months ago and she cannot get past the pain and emptiness. Her mother, gently but firmly, nudges Emmy out of the secure nest of her parent’s home to experience life on Folly Beach—a foreign place to Emmy, yet she feels a pull to stay there while telling herself she is there only temporarily. It is here she learns that broken hearts are ageless—not her private domain.
Heath Reynolds, a cancer survivor, owns the house Emmy rents on Folly Beach. His ancestors are the intriguing, mysterious, and long-suffering characters in the early 1940’s story. The intriguing Lulu that makes the bottle trees guards her secrets well about Maggie, Cat, Jim, Peter, Robert, and baby John. As the reader shares the WWII experiences vicariously with these characters, the fears, sorrows, shattered dreams, and their indomitable spirits come alive. The emotional toll of the happenings is devastating yet those who survive keep on keeping on with incredible courage. This is a story that lingers in the mind.
Karen White weaves history (some little known), daily living, love, deceit, sorrow, and survival together in On Folly Beach. She bombards the senses with vivid imagery, poignant metaphors, and analogies don’t over look the osprey one) that make the story rich. Her characters come alive as they overcome the fallout of war with amazing strength and courage. Emmy’s and Heath’s personal battles entwined with the historical characters’ battles making On Folly Beach compelling. It is a KEEPER!