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(Folly Island #1)

4.03  ·  Rating details ·  3,618 ratings  ·  423 reviews
An acclaimed master of suspense creates a heroine you will never forget in this superbly chilling novel of a woman who begins a desperate undertaking that may transform her life--or end it.


Rae Newborn is a woman on the edge: on the edge of sanity, on the edge of tragedy, and now on the edge of the world. She has move
Paperback, 523 pages
Published 2002 by HarperCollins (first published 2001)
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Heidi This might not be exactly what you are looking for (as it's primarily dystopian), but I think you might enjoy The Dog Stars by Peter Heller. There are…moreThis might not be exactly what you are looking for (as it's primarily dystopian), but I think you might enjoy The Dog Stars by Peter Heller. There are elements of isolation, wilderness, hands-on work and mystery. I'm only just starting Folly, so I can't say for sure how similar the stories are, but The Dog Stars is certainly one of my favorites and I highly recommend it either way.(less)

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Average rating 4.03  · 
Rating details
 ·  3,618 ratings  ·  423 reviews

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Aug 22, 2007 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: 2007
I don't normally watch movies or read books about mental illness of my own volition (I went to go see A Beautiful Mind without really knowing what it was about; that's been it in recent years.) I've danced with the devil a few times (though never as dramatically as Rae) and I usually prefer other subject matter for my pleasure reading/movie consumption. But, I love and respect LRK's writing (and really, would read her grocery list at this point) and knew that if there was anyone who could handle ...more
FOLLY (Mys/Novel-Rae Newborn-Washington State-Cont) – Ex
King, Laurie R. – Standalone
Bantam, 2001, US Hardcover – ISBN: 0553111035

First Sentence: The gray-haired woman stood with her boots planted on the rocky promontory and watched what was left of her family pull away.

Rae Newborn is a woodworker whose work appears in galleries and museums. She is also a woman who has known tragedy, severe depression and attempted suicide more than once. Working to put her life back on track, Rae has come to Sal
Lisha Adela
Feb 22, 2009 rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: Everyone
This book took my breath away. It was a mystery that was resolved in the casual and not so casual conversations of a woman coming to terms with loss and grief in a malevolent environment. It was about rebuilding literally a house on a made up San Juan Island in the Pacific Northwest and in the process resolving many clues about her family. The writing was superb almost poetic and yet the plot and character development was complex and the action required a careful read. Highly recommended to ever ...more
Dec 08, 2008 rated it it was ok
This book was recommended to me by a friend. It was 400 pages long. I had gotten to page 200 and still didn't know why it was so wonderful! The book is about a 52 year old woman who has lost her husband and daughter in an accident. She was attacked and raped, was put into a psychiatric facility and is now trying to heal. To do so, she decides to go to an island that she inherited from a great uncle. It is a small island which serves now as a bird sanctuary and no one lives there. The main charac ...more
Sep 22, 2008 rated it it was amazing
I loved Folly! I liked the way Laurie R King develops the connection between rebuilding a life that is in shambles and rebuilding a house from the foundation up.
I had a bit of trouble getting out to do chores outside and getting to bed at a decent hour until I finished listening.
Great read/listen.

5 stars, and very highly recommended.
Feb 17, 2009 rated it liked it
Shelves: reviewed, own, whodunit
Being a huge fan of Laurie R. King’s Mary Russell series, I picked this up in an attempt to branch out into some other things she’s written. When I started reading this, I was expecting a typical mystery story, and nothing more. How wrong it was to assume that! This is the saga of Rae Newborn, who at fifty-two years old has been through hell and high water. In addition to coping with severe depression, which has caused her to make numerous attempts on her own life, she is also dealing with the h ...more
Apr 21, 2012 rated it it was amazing
Laurie King's Folly is a very sympathetic portrayal of the effects of psychosis and madness on the individual. In this case it is Rae Newborn who is literally reborn from her last bout of suicidal mental illness through the solitude of an uninhabited island and the project of rebuilding a burned-out house. We join her as she leaves therapy to live on an isolated island off the coast of Washington state. Her only human contact is a weekly visit by a tatooed man called Ed who drops off her supplie ...more
Neilie J
Oct 01, 2011 rated it really liked it
I just discovered Laurie King last month when I started reading The Beekeeper's Apprentice. This book's a far cry from the light-hearted story of Sherlock Holmes and his young protege, but I was instantly sucked into it. Having struggled with some of the mental issues the protagonist of this story suffers from, I was shocked at how well the author portrays them. Her ear for dialog is spot-on and I found myself often tearful at the profound insights she'd subtly slip into the thoughts of her char ...more
Sue Seeger
Dec 16, 2008 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: thriller
Ms. King can't be satisfied with two successful series', she also has to PWN some unbelievable stand alones. (The show off) Folly's mentally fragile MC, Ray Newborn, is such a masterfully drawn character. The tension builds as she tries to conquer her phobias and resurrect what's left of her sanity alone (she thinks) on an island in the pacific northwest, but not all her fears are irrational.
Leah Weiss
May 04, 2018 rated it it was amazing
I read this book a few years ago for my book club and was prepared to dislike it. The main theme seemed to be mental illness so I wasn't prepared to be swept away by a story line that was right up my alley: single woman chooses to rebuild the old fashioned way a house on an island. The character was an artist (my hot button) who chose solitude to heal. The suspense that ensued was mesmerizing. A great read! ...more
Feb 06, 2009 rated it it was amazing
This book was recommended by someone at work who would also like to write books. I found it quite interesting. The mystery unfolds slowly, but what I really enjoyed was the protagonist's journey from deep depression to health while rebuilding her's uncle's home. Her life parallels the life of her uncle, which she reads in his diary. I am ready to read one more by King. ...more
Carol Stanley-Snow
Dec 18, 2014 rated it it was amazing
A very intimate story of one womans battle with depression. The story follows her throughout her travels to 'her' island where her lone quest to face and hopefully conquer her demons.

A story that will suck you in and keep you on the edge of your seat.

A must read.
Aug 01, 2016 rated it it was amazing
I am a big fan of Laurie King, especially her Mary Russell, Sherlock Holmes mysteries. So I picked up this book with a question mark in my mind as to whether I would like it because it is a stand alone novel. It turned out to be a gem. As usual, King's writing is superb and her characters are so well developed that she really takes you into another world. The story is about a middle aged woman, Rae who has had great tragedy, has lost her husband and daughter in a terrible accident and because of ...more
Mar 30, 2012 rated it really liked it
OK, everyone needs to calm down and stop with the negative reviews of this book. I thought it was great, and i've read the whole series. As a whole, the series has its ups and downs but this is not by any means the weakest one. For me it was one of the best; i raced through it. However .... you do have to be very familiar with Gilbert and Sullivan and especially with The Pirates of Penzance. Holmes isn't very present in this one (but this series isn't really about Holmes anyway, is it) and the m ...more
Shawna Millard
Apr 21, 2017 rated it did not like it
It felt like climbing a very steep hill. I admit it to be well written but all that remorse and introspection are too much sometimes for even the most avid fan of Ms. King. I try to avoid the books written about people with suicidal tendencies and severe depression. They may be helpful for some but for myself they truly drag me down.
Molly Maloney
Jan 01, 2021 rated it really liked it
A woman with mental illness moves to an island in the San Juans to build a house with her own hands. Seriously well-written: a compelling story, beautiful pace, and some of the best passages about the experience of mental illness that I've ever read. ...more
Aug 02, 2020 rated it really liked it
Fascinating story although somewhat disjointed, virtuous writing, a good read. I will read her sequel.
Oct 14, 2015 rated it really liked it
I almost always like Laurie King's books. One of the things I truly appreciate is her ability to have relationships within the book while not making the book feel like a Harlequin romance.
this book is NOT about the relationship - male /female- but it has a lot to do with familial relationships.
Rae Newborn is a severely depressed woman who moves to an isolated Gulf Island "Folly" which is owned by her family. She has suffered many losses in her life and the book opens with her arrival on the isla
Karen Syed
I am not sure how to describe my feelings on this book. On one hand, I liked it. The story keep me listening and wanting to find out the truth. On the other hand, I found it a little hard to get into, and up until about 2/3 of the way through the book, I wondered why I kept listening.

There were a few scenes where I felt like the characters involved were contrived simply to resolve someting, but that they didn't really do all that much to move the stor along.

I did enjoy the book. I might listen t
Jul 14, 2008 rated it really liked it
I checked this book out when the next Mary Russell book wasn't available at the library for a few weeks. It is written by the same author, Laurie King. I almost turned it back in after reading the first chapter or two, because I didn't think I was going to like it. I got hooked, and ended up being glued to the book until I finished it several days later. This book tells the story about a woman who decides to go to an island her uncle left to her, and rebuild his cabin that had been destroyed dec ...more
Jun 27, 2008 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: lrk
This is a spellbinding tale about a fascinating women and her unique way of putting back the broken pieces of herself. Two different mysteries are presented, intertwined and solved. I 'read' the audio book performed by Frank Muller. My sister thought the book should have been read by a woman, because it is mostly about a women, but I disagree in this case. Frank is excellent at telling a tale in a tense & suspenseful way and this is a tense and suspenseful story.

One reader I know said on
Oct 20, 2008 rated it it was ok
Very disappointed in this book. The premise was great, (what if the voices in your head really are there?)I loved the setting, the tie-in with family history, and I was excited for a good mystery, but things just kept going well for the heroine. I did like the hammer scene, but wanted more suspense overall.

I agree with this review:

Beautiful prose and intriguing characters can't quite save the confusing, and at times needlessly complicated, plot of this challenging psychological thriller, set on
Jun 18, 2014 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I didn't think I would want to read a book about a 52 year old woman with mental health issues building a house on an island.Not even, if they were the beautiful Washington State San Juan Islands.A place I have longed to visit but never will.The island of Folly is a figment of the writer's skillful imagination. This was my first time reading King but not my last. A wonderful story and I so related to 52 year old Rae Newborn. ...more
Jul 03, 2015 rated it liked it
A lot of blah, blah, blah.....before the heart of the story!
Jul 02, 2017 rated it it was ok
Shelves: houses-homes
I picked this up since I just blazed through most of the Mary Russell novels and am developing an interest in woodworking and house construction. It was an interesting read given that the protagonist is a middle-aged widow with mental illness -- certainly not your typical heroine. And it was pretty interesting to read about rebuilding a house, learning about framing, different types of wood, etc.

But the main plotlines about Rae's enemies, her daughter's family drama, and her relationships with t
Franny V.
Jun 22, 2019 rated it really liked it
Really good and really scary. I think I'll go back to Mary Russel and Sherlock Holmes' adventures where the mysteries feel further away not just because of an ocean and a century between us. This murder mystery doesn't reveal much until the final two chapters except for a lot of trauma. It was honestly difficult to read, but its positives include a strong female lead, descriptions of Pacific Northwest islands, and detailed directions for building a house. I don't recommend reading this when you' ...more
Crystal Hiatt
Jul 09, 2019 rated it it was amazing
'Folly' is a deeply felt and thought provoking. This is a transformative novel in which we see the psychological and spiritual development of the main character. I drew strong comparisons between this book and 'The Shack.' Whereas 'The Shack' deals with grief resulting from the loss of a loved one, 'Folly' deals with the grief of losing ones identity to tragedy and the loss of trust and faith in humanity. Those are to powerful things to grieve and ones that are hard to overcome (if they ever are ...more
Setting this aside for now as Folly was not the right choice for a plane ride. It was dragging for me and I would likely enjoy it more if read in a different setting. I'm a huge fan of Laurie R. King and outdoor adventures so it was all about the timing. Will review and rate when I tackle this again. ...more
Aug 14, 2020 rated it it was amazing
"Silence is not an absence of noise, and it was an actual thing, a creature with weight and bulk."

This was my first ARC. I received it in 2001 when you gave your feedback directly to the publisher. It is my most favorite book. It came at a time when I was newly diagnosed with PTSD after 5 years of wandering lost with no diagnosis. King gave me Rae, a woman who was so much more than just a shared name. While Rae struggled with a different diagnosis than me, we both struggled together. It gave
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Edgar-winning mystery writer Laurie R. King writes series and standalone novels. Her official forum is
THE LRK VIRTUAL BOOK CLUB here on Goodreads--please join us for book-discussing fun.

King's 2018 novel, Island of the Mad, sees Mary Russell and Sherlock Holmes travel from London's Bedlam to the glitter of Venice's Lido,where Young Things and the friends of Cole Porter pass Mussolini's Blackshi

Other books in the series

Folly Island (2 books)
  • Keeping Watch (Folly Island, #2)

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