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Folly Paperback – May 10, 2011

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Editorial Reviews

From School Library Journal

Grade 9 Up Mary Finn is unmarried and pregnant. Her baby's father has disappeared and she's been dismissed from her domestic position. A kindhearted woman takes her in, but then dies after the baby is born, and Mary is homeless again. She realizes that her son's only hope for survival is to be raised in the Foundling Hospital. Six-year-old James has been happy in his foster home, but now he must return to the hospital, where he was placed by his mother as a baby, so he can receive his education. His third-person narrative, which takes place in 1884, alternates with Mary's first-person account, which is set between 1877 and 1878. This alternating point of view may be a bit confusing for teens at first, but the story will quickly pull them in. Jocelyn's characters are richly drawn and fully developed, and the setting of late-1800s London is vividly detailed. The climactic scenes between Mary and Eliza, another maid, are funny and sad at the same time. The novel has a melancholy feel to it, but readers will care very much for these characters as they experience first love and sex, physical pain, jealousy, homelessness, hunger, shame, desertion, and heart-wrenching decisions. Teens will find Folly historically enlightening as well as rewarding. Wendy Scalfaro, G. Ray Bodley High School, Fulton, NY
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From Booklist

When author Jocelyn learned her grandfather had been born out of wedlock and raised at London's Foundling Hospital, her curiosity was piqued. Research led to names and places and a “sentimental” hope that the woman who gave up her baby also had romance in her life. Here, Jocelyn reshapes family history into the story of Mary Finn, living in Victorian England. A new stepmother leads to a move to London, and an encounter with a handsome soldier eventually leads to a baby. Mary's story, told in a clear-sighted, sometimes rueful voice, alternates with that of six-year-old James Nelligan, fostered during his early years and now back at the Foundling Hospital, where he tries to make a life for himself. Jocelyn sharply draws both Mary and James; her keen ear for dialect gives all her characters dimension, while her eye for detail makes her settings real and rich. The story stumbles a bit when other characters take over the narration, but readers will be caught up in the dual tales and revel in the promising ending. Grades 8-12. --Ilene Cooper --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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Product Details

  • Age Range: 12 and up
  • Grade Level: 7 and up
  • Paperback: 256 pages
  • Publisher: Ember; Reprint edition (May 10, 2011)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0375855432
  • ISBN-13: 978-0375855436
  • Product Dimensions: 6.1 x 0.6 x 8.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 8 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (14 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #8,202,174 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Adriana on May 21, 2010
Format: Hardcover
What drew me to this book when I first saw it, was the cover. It looks so haunting and tragic. Then on to the summary and it sounds so simple, yet I was curious about this Caden Tucker and what exactly made him a liar and a scoundrel. I also love the whole Victorian London setting which was probably the biggest factor as to why I chose to read this book. It really sounded like something I would thoroughly enjoy. Unfortunately, it wasn't what I hoped it would be.

The whole story is really predictable which I'm hoping that's what it was going for, but there was very little detail or action that went on. It was just a lot of "telling" as quite a few of the chapters were rightfully named. The book is told through four pov's one being first person Mary Finn starting in 1876, as well as Eliza told in third person also set in 1876. Then there's foundling James Nelligan and his teacher Oliver who was also a foundling there pov's start off in 1884. A lot of the story seemed really rushed and there was quite a bit I would have liked to know more of, which unfortunately didn't happen.

The characters didn't really stand out to me other than James who was an interesting young boy and I absolutely loved him. Mary Finn is a 14 year old girl who is sent to be maid for a family after her father remarries a few months after the death of Mary's mother. There she becomes the envy of a fellow worker Eliza. I normally find something positive about the mean and conniving girls and try to figure out why they are that way, but with Eliza I just couldn't stand her. She just came off really fake, pretentious, impulsive, and just really dumb. Oliver Chester was a likable character.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By TeensReadToo on April 10, 2011
Format: Hardcover
Mary Finn is only fourteen years old when she's forced out of her home in rural Lincolnshire at the behest of her new stepmother to act as a servant for the woman's sister at her roadside inn. Sixty-seven days later, Mary flees to London as nanny to Lucilla Allyn's infant son, only to discover the position is unavailable upon arrival.

Despite her lack of domestic skills, Mary is able to secure employment as maid in the Allyn household and soon becomes ensconced in her new life. It's not long before she meets the dashing, young Caden Tucker - a British soldier who steals Mary's heart and leaves her in far more dire straights than she ever could have imagined.

Inter cut with Mary's narrative is the story of six-year-old James Nelligan, to whom we're introduced on the day he must leave his foster home and return to the Foundling Hospital. Life as a foundling is brutal, and it will take all of James's resources just to survive, but thanks to his mischievous nature and innate cleverness, he manages to garner a few allies along the way.

I'm reluctant to admit this, but I cried several times while reading FOLLY. Whether it was a scene depicting the grinding misery of Mary's early childhood, the gut-wrenching ache of families ripped apart, or the deplorable conditions and inherent coldness of the Foundling Hospital, Marthe Jocelyn draws an unflinching eye to the harsh realities faced by so many during the Victorian Era.

That's not to say the book is without moments of joy; in fact, the closing sentiment is one of hope, which makes the book, in its entirety, all the more powerful.

Reviewed by: Cat
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Brittany Moore VINE VOICE on June 29, 2010
Format: Hardcover
Mary Finn is a girl from the country, sent away after her mother died and her father remarried. She gets a job as a maid in London, but soon some of her choices threaten her job and her virtue.
James Nelligan is an orphan who was taken in by a nice family until he was six. When he turned six he had to return to a home for foundlings. There he learns many things as he comes of age though the one thing he really wants to know(who his parents are) my soon be closer than he realizes.

This was a nice historical fiction novel told from four alternating viewpoints. I really enjoyed reading about Mary and James and how there lives were led. At times some of the characters acted or sounded a bit more modern than I thought they should, but the overall tone of the novel was quite 1800s. It was nice discovering the little mysteries and trying to find out how the four people may or may not be connected. Mary has to take care of her(very young) other siblings after her mother dies, so it was disheartening to see her driven from her home by(yet another) wicked stepmother. Also, I do wish more had happened with Oliver. He seemed very nice, but not a lot happens to anyone in this novel I suppose. Not to say that the characters aren't developed, they just could have been developed further. Mary and James seem to be much more developed than the other two narrators Oliver and Eliza. This was a nice read and if you enjoy historical fiction then you should try it out. It was a very brief read, but it was an enjoyable one nonetheless.

First Line:
"I began exceeding ignorant, apart from what a girl can learn through family mayhem, a dead mother, a grim stepmother and a sorrowful parting from home."

Favorite Line:
"I woke up blinding dizzy, with some quick and wily rodent darting about my belly."

(really I just love the word wily... wily wily wily ;)
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