Tuesday, June 1, 2010

Book Review: On Folly Beach by Karen White

Synopsis from TLC Book Tours:

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 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 in Afghanistan. Emmy 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: Emmy must allow Lulu, the late owner’s elderly sister, to continue selling her bottle trees from its back yard.

Emmy 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…

My Review:

On Folly Beach is a beautiful novel that successfully ties together two parallel stories, one set in the 1940's during WWII and the other set in the present time. The two stories are connected by a love of books and literature, loss, and mystery.  Emmy is the newcomer to Folly Beach as she has just moved there and is a recent widow, losing her husband Ben who fought in Afghanistan. Emmy has a library science background and has bought the local bookstore, Folly's Finds. She is intrigued by the box of books that her mother had purchased from the store months before. In this box, she finds love letters and a beautiful picture of a bottle tree drawn on the inside of an old book. She is drawn to these mysteries and tries to piece things together from the past.  Folly's Finds was originally owned by Maggie, who is the sister of Lulu and is still alive and living on Folly Beach. Lulu is an artist of sorts who creates the beautiful bottle trees that are sold from the backyard of Folly's Finds. Lulu isn't the easiest person for Emmy to get to know. She's not thrilled that Emmy is stirring up memories from the past and ones that she isn't fond of revisiting. Lulu has been protecting a family secret for a long time and she isn't sure that she wants to reveal it.

On Folly Beach was the first book that I've read by Karen White and I was captivated by the story and her writing. I liked so many things about this book...the wonderful and diverse characters, the beautiful southern setting, the bookstore and literary references, the mystery and the history. I felt that all of these pieces were drawn together beautifully to form a wonderfully strong and rich novel.

I was drawn in by the historical aspects Ms. White weaved into the storyline and felt compelled to do some research after I finished the book. I was fascinated by the tie in to the presence of German U-boats off the coast of the US and Nazi spies infiltrating our society during WWII. I enjoyed learning about the history and folklore related to Bottle Trees as I had not heard of them before. The Bottle Trees are considered a colorful folk tradition with the purpose of protecting you by warding off evil spirits who are drawn to the insides of the bottles as they shimmer with color and trap the spirits inside the bottles forever.

I look forward to reading more books by Karen White in the future. Make sure to visit Karen White's website, here to learn more about her and her books.

Make sure to check back tomorrow ,June 2nd, for a special guest post written by Karen White and a giveaway for two copies of  On Folly Beach!

I read on Folly Beach by Karen White as part of her blog tour with TLC Book Tour. To check out other blog tour stops go here.

Disclosure: A copy of the book provided by the publisher for review. I am an Amazon and Indiebound affiliate.


  1. Nice review, Bonnie. It's on my wish list so I'll check back tomorrow :)

  2. I loved this one too Bonnie!! She's a great writer and one that I will be coming back to!!

  3. After reading this book, I really want to get a bottle tree!

  4. I read another Karen White book earlier this year and really enjoyed it. I need to add this one to the list.

  5. On Folly Beach was my first experience with Karen White's work too and I thoroughly enjoyed it. I've lived in Alabama twice so I knew what a bottle tree was!

  6. I've been reading such good things about this one and love the photo of the bottle tree. I want one!


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