Elizabeth's Reviews > On Folly Beach

On Folly Beach by Karen   White
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's review
Aug 30, 2010

really liked it
bookshelves: fiction
Read in August, 2010

Karen White has combined her lovely, lyrical writing with a beautiful setting and two intertwined and intriguing stories to make a very satisfying read.

The two stories alternate -- one of librarian and Midwesterner Emmy, a new widow whose husband has died in Afghanistan and who, at her mother's urging, has purchased a book store at Folly Beach, South Carolina. There her story intersects with that of Lulu and her now dead sister Maggie who owned the store during WWII. The author skillfully weaves history, drama, espionage, love, and loss into a simmering pot of page-turning pleasure. This is a great "escape book" for those times when you just need to get your mind off of your other worries.

Examples of the author's writing I find rich and poignant:

Emmy has just moved from the midwest to Folly Beach, South Carolina, and is seeing the ocean for the first time: "She's seen oceans in movies, and in her mother's photographs, but now, standing in front of the great Atlantic, she felt the pulsing of the waves, felt the power and breadth of the water as it bled out into the horizon, endless and liquid like the earth's lifeblood. It made her feel alive, unlike anything she'd felt under the broad flat skies of home. As she stared out at the dark blue vastness, her veins seemed to pump with the ancient rhythm of the waves, giving her kinship to every person who'd ever lived by the water, yet at the same time making her feel very, very insignificant." If you're a lover of the beach, this captures some of the mystery and powerful appeal.

Later, her mother visits the beach after being gone for decades, still mourning the loss of infant sons years ago, but finally able to travel with her husband: "...it's been...reviving. I know that's an odd word, but that's how it feels. Like I've been taking shallow breaths for years and finally learned how to fill my lungs."

This was back to the caliber of White's first book The Memory of Water.
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