RITA Reader Challenge Review

RITA Reader Challenge Review: On Folly Beach by Karen White

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Title: On Folly Beach
Author: Karen White
Publication Info: NAL 2010
ISBN: 9780451229212
Genre: Contemporary/Other

RITA®, and the RITA statuette are service marks of Romance Writers of America, Inc.Lindlee is back, kicking ass and writing reviews for the RITA® Reader Challenge for one book in each category. This book was nominated in the Strong Romantic Elements category.

Book CoverPlot summary: Folly Beach, South Carolina, has survived despite hurricanes and war. But it’s the personal battles of Folly Beach’s residents that have left the most scars, and why a young widow has been beckoned there to heal her own… To most people, Folly Beach is simply the last barrier island before reaching the great Atlantic. To some, it’s a sanctuary for lost souls, which is why Emmy Hamilton’s mother encourages her to buy the local book store, Folly’s Finds, hoping it will distract Emmy from the loss of her husband. Emmy is at first resistant. So much has already changed. But after finding love letters and an image of a beautiful bottle tree in a box of used books from Folly’s Finds, she decides to take the plunge.

But the seller insists on one condition: Emmy must allow Lulu, the late owner’s difficult sister, to continue selling her bottle trees from its back yard. For the most part Emmy ignores Lulu as she sifts through the love letters, wanting to learn more. But the more she discovers about the letters, the more she understands Lulu. As details of a possible murder and a mysterious disappearance during WWII 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…

And now, Lindlee’s review:

On Folly Beach weaves two stories into one. The novel alternates between 2009 (Emmy’s story) and 1942 (Maggie’s story). In 2009, Emmy discovers love notes written by an unknown man and woman in the margins of some books that came from Folly’s Finds. Feeling a spark of interest in something for the first time since her husband’s death, Emmy decides to discover the identities of the two lovers. The mystery of the unknown man and woman is the common theme between both stories. The reader is given hints as to who these two may be in both timelines. 

The author did an excellent job of interweaving the two storylines. Usually when a novel is written in this format, I find at least once in the story I’m more interested one timeline over the other. Then I find myself rushing through in order to get back to the interesting part. The two different timelines in On Folly Beach were equally interesting and complimented each other very well. Excellent work, Ms. White!!

I loved the literary quotes that were scattered throughout the novel. They helped set the romantic tone. My favorite quote used came from the Sullivan Ballou letter: “My love for you is deathless.” I’m now in love with that letter. (Seriously, how beautiful is that letter?)

On Folly Beach deals with the effects of different types of loss. Instead of focusing on how to move on from loss, the question that comes up most often is how do you know when to move on and let go.

“How do you know when it’s been long enough?”

Emmy could sense her mother smiling into the phone. “When you realize that love doesn’t have a time span. Only pain does. I think sometimes it’s hard to distinguish between the two, so we just hold on to both of them like they’re inseparable.”

I definitely recommend On Folly Beach. The action moved quickly, and the book raises several thought provoking questions and ideas.


This book is available from Amazon | Kindle | BN & nook | WORD BrooklynKobo | Sony

Comments are Closed

  1. 1
    darlynne says:

    Lindlee, this sounds like a book I would love. Thanks for a great review. Unfortunately, the ebook price is almost half again as much as the paperback. I’ll have to add this one to my “thanks so much, agency idiots, not going to buy” list. *sigh*

  2. 2
    Helly says:

    Thanks for a good review! I am putting this on my TBR-list.

    Usually when a novel is written in this format, I find at least once in the story I’m more interested one timeline over the other.

    I know what you mean, my problem is often that as soon as I am invested and connected to one timeline, the author switches over to the other and it takes a while to adjust – even though I am equally interested in both stories.

  3. 3
    Donna says:

    This sounds wonderful and that last quote sold me. Thanks so much for the recommendation, I’m off the the GBPL website…

  4. 4
    LizW65 says:

    Sounds the best of the RITA bunch so far, but as a non-southerner I have to ask:  what the heck is a bottle tree?  Is it like a miniature tree in a bottle (along the same lines as a ship in a bottle) or something else?

  5. 5
    Lindlee says:

    I’m glad everyone enjoyed the review! There was so much I could have said about this book, I had a hard time keeping it close to 250 words. But no worries. I picked it as my next book club book, so I’ll be able to discuss it there to my heart’s content. =)

    @darlynne OMG, I got my copy from the library so I didn’t have any idea what this was selling for. That ebook price is INSANE! I don’t blame you for passing. Too bad. =(

    @LizW65 LOL May I say as a southerner, I didn’t know what a bottle tree was either. In fact, I had the hardest time picturing it in my head. From my understanding (and pixs from the internet) it’s bottles hung from a tree. Apparently it’s a tradition African slaves brought to the US. The bottles on the trees are supposed to capture evil spirits.

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