Review: On Folly Beach by Karen White

May 20, 2010 General Fiction, Historical Fiction, Mystery/Suspense, NAL, Women's Fiction 13

  • Paperback: 416 pages
  • Publisher: NAL Trade; 1 edition (May 4, 2010)
  • ISBN-10: 0451229215
  • Source: Publisher
  •  Emmy Hamilton is a recent widow; her husband, a soldier, was killed in Afghanistan.  As to be expected, she’s having a difficult time getting over his death.  Her mother, Paige, insists that he would have wanted her to do more with her life other than stay in their small town in Indiana and work at Paige’s bookstore.  She encourages Emmy go to Folly Beach, a sanctuary for many, and buy the small town’s bookstore, Folly’s Finds.

    Emmy is reluctant at first; she’s perfectly fine with staying where she is.  However, when her mother buys a box of books from Folly’s Finds, Emmy discovers that several of the books have messages written in them.  She’s always had a special “sense” about certain things, and when she touches a few of the books they send tingles up her spine.

    She arrives in Folly Beach and meets Abigail, the current owner, and Abigail’s aunt Lulu.  Lulu is quite the interesting character; she’s not exactly pleased to see Emmy there.  Emmy purchases the bookstore, with the condition that Lulu will be allowed to remain as an employee of Folly’s Finds and continue to sell her very interesting bottle trees.

    As she renovates the bookstore, Emmy continues to find old books with messages written in them.  They appear to be love notes written by a young man and woman during World War II. She eventually finds out more about the history of Folly Beach and of the couple who communicated via the old books from an initially reluctant Lulu.  She learns that it wasn’t merely a young love that was kept secret between the pages, she also discovers a possible murder & mysterious disappearance.

    Karen White’s writing never ceases to amaze me.  I’ve read all of her previous work and have enjoyed each of them tremendously.  In On Folly Beach, White intricately weaves together two stories of love and loss.  The chapters shift between the 1940s and present day and this is done in a very fluid manner. Each chapter reveals a new piece to the puzzle. I instantly became invested in the storyline and the characters. White added a bit of history and folklore to the story, really enhancing the already powerful story. 

    Lulu’s bottle trees intrigued me.  African slaves brought the tradition of the bottle tree to the United States in the 18th century.  The bottles on the trees ward off evil spirits; spirits who get caught in the bottles are unable to escape.  Here is a picture of a bottle tree:

     In the story, a young Lulu also uses the bottle trees to communicate with loved ones who have gone away. 

    In case you haven’t realized it yet, I highly recommend these books.  The Southern setting, the mystery, the characters all come together to form a phenomenal read!  Be sure to stop by tomorrow for a guest post by Karen White and a giveaway!



    Thank you to TLC Book Tours for giving me the opportunity to review this book.  Please be sure to check out the other stops on this tour!

    Monday, May 3rd: Rundpinne

    Tuesday, May 4th: Downtown Southern

    Thursday, May 6th: Life in the Thumb

    Friday, May 7th: Café of Dreams

    Monday, May 10th: Diary of an Eccentric

    Tuesday, May 11th: Peeking Between the Pages

    Wednesday, May 12th: Write Meg

    Thursday, May 13th: Savvy Verse & Wit

    Friday, May 14th: Luxury Reading

    Monday, May 17th: Lit and Life

    Wednesday, May 19th: Books Like Breathing

    Thursday, May 20th: Jenn’s Bookshelves

    Monday, May 24th: From the Land of Cotton

    Tuesday, May 25th: Natalie’s Sentiments

    Wednesday, May 26th: A Tale of This Newlywed

    Thursday, May 27th: Good Girl Gone Redneck

    Friday, May 28th: Flower Patch Farmgirl

    Monday, May 31st: Sasha and the Silverfish

    Tuesday, June 1st: Red Lady’s Reading Room

    13 Responses to “Review: On Folly Beach by Karen White”

    1. bermudaonion (Kathy)

      I loved this book too and thought about including a picture of a bottle tree, but figured everyone knew what they look like! I guess I was wrong – obviously I’ve spent too much time in the Deep South! Great review, Jenn!

    2. Beth(bookaholicmom)

      After reading so many great reviews for this book it is moving to the top of my wish list. I love the setting of a bookstore and the bottle tree is really intriguing. This sounds like a very interesting book!

    3. Marie

      Great review. Thanks for including the picture of the bottle tree. I love it!

    4. Natalie
      Twitter: nataliew2

      This one sounds like a wonderful read. I’ll have to add it to my must read list!
      Love the bottle tree.

    5. Sherry

      This book sounds so interesting. I want to read it from the review and will have to check and see if my local library has it!

    6. Anna
      Twitter: annaeccentric

      Glad to see you liked this one, too. Those bottle trees are beautiful.

      I hope it’s okay for me to link to your review on the WWII book reviews page on War Through the Generations. I’ll get it up on the site soon.

    7. Heather

      This book sounds so good! And those trees are so interesting and beautiful. I’m going to have to get my hands on this one.

    8. Mary

      It really sounds good and I like that you included the photo of the bottle tree 🙂 I’ll remember that when I read the book.

    9. Toni Gomez

      Awesome review! Thanks for the photo of the bottle trees. I have seen them or heard of them sometime along the way but had forgotten. Thanks Jenn.

    10. trish

      Your enthusiasm for these books is infectious! And I love that picture of the bottle tree. I know I’d heard about it before, but the picture just made it come alive.

      I’m so glad you were on this tour!