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133 of 139 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Two stories interwoven to create one unforgettable novel!
Karen White has a talent that shines and glitters like diamond chips, upon black velvet, in the sunlight. Her writing voice is amazing and never ceases to thrill me. For me, On Folly Beach was an intricate, intriguing and delicate blend of two stories interwoven into one. There is the story of Emmy Hamilton who has lost her beloved husband, Ben, to the war in...
Published on May 7, 2010 by A. Pohren

versus
8 of 8 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Not an original plot but still a fun read
My book club listed this as an upcoming read. I found the concept interesting but the book didn't move very quickly. The author deftly moved back and forth between two different stories that take place at two different times and connects them expertly and that was the only reason I continued to read it.

The one story is set during World War II on Folly Beach,...
Published on January 8, 2011 by June Bug


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133 of 139 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Two stories interwoven to create one unforgettable novel!, May 7, 2010
By 
A. Pohren (IA United States) - See all my reviews
(VINE VOICE)    (REAL NAME)   
This review is from: On Folly Beach (Paperback)
Karen White has a talent that shines and glitters like diamond chips, upon black velvet, in the sunlight. Her writing voice is amazing and never ceases to thrill me. For me, On Folly Beach was an intricate, intriguing and delicate blend of two stories interwoven into one. There is the story of Emmy Hamilton who has lost her beloved husband, Ben, to the war in Afghanistan. With his death, comes the end of Emmy's dreams and plans for the future. It is not until Emmy's mother gives her a push (as well as the appearance of a box of books that hold mysterious and heart wrenching messages) that she ventures to buy a bookstore in Folly Beach. However, Emmy is soon to discover that with the bookstore, comes a not-so-easy-to-like elderly woman named Lulu. Enter the second story - sisters Maggie and Lulu and their story, which takes place in the early forties and during WWII. Maggie, with a heart of gold, has known heartbreak, love and patience. She is the owner of the store on Folly Beach, as well as caretaker of her little sister Lulu. With mysterious twists, turns and gripping events, the reader will fall into the lives of these women, become entranced and unable to resist continuing from page to page, until the very end.

As I mentioned, Karen White interweaves these stories and time periods together, in a seamless and perfectly timed way. Though the time periods and stories change from chapter to chapter, this is done in such a way that it is like a puzzle fitting snugly together. The past and present reflect perfectly upon one another as the story progresses. I also want to mention the slight hint of the paranormal, which Ms. White sprinkles throughout On Folly Beach, is a delightful added bonus to the story as well. Her ability to bring the South to life is breathtaking and makes reading the story of these women, all the more appealing.

Whether you are already a fan of Karen White or have yet to enter her magical world of words, On Folly Beach is an excellent read, that is sure to appeal to a vast audience. I have yet to be disappointed by one of this author's books and I am thrilled to say that this one is just as radiant as her previous works. I highly recommend On Folly Beach for anyone looking for a great story that will stick with them! I cannot wait for the next release from Karen White!
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39 of 42 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars PAST AND PRESENT INTERSECT IN THIS SUSPENSEFUL TALE..., May 9, 2010
This review is from: On Folly Beach (Paperback)
When Emmy Hamilton's husband dies in the war, she isolates herself in her hometown in Indiana, until one day, almost in an uncharacteristically unusual way, her mother pushes her to buy a bookstore in Folly Beach, South Carolina, where she herself grew up, and then offers her an additional incentive. A box of old books, shipped from the store Folly's Finds that contains a unique image of a beautiful bottle tree. Perusing the books leads to another discovery that seals the deal for Emmy.

She takes the plunge, and from the first moment that she arrives, she is catapulted into a world of beauty, strange individuals--like Lulu, whose sister Maggie was the first owner of the store, and who creates strangely beautiful bottle trees--and town customs that allow Emmy to slowly begin to immerse herself in her new environment.

As she examines more of the old books, she begins to uncover what appears to be a strange and secret correspondence between a man and a woman living in Folly Beach in the 1940s. Letters and notes on the margins of pages lead Emmy to ponder and begin to question some of the townsfolk, including Lulu. But Lulu is strangely reticent, which piques Emmy's curiosity even more.

The reader is treated to the story told in the past (1940s) and in the present (2009), in alternating sequence, and this method of revealing the story slowly amps up the mystery even more.

It took a couple of chapters before I became totally invested in the story, but by then, I was so intrigued that I couldn't wait to find out more.

On Folly Beach, by Karen White, is another wonderfully compelling read by an author whose work I have grown to enjoy. I am now excited to read her next one.
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38 of 41 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Solid piece of spectacular story telling!, May 13, 2010
This review is from: On Folly Beach (Paperback)
This book has so much going for it...Southern location, bookstores, Nancy Drew, book lovers, loss loves, broken hearts, an intriguing mystery and strong family connections. There wasn't a page that I didn't enjoy reading and even though I wanted desperately to see how Emmy and Lulu's stories would end, I truly didn't want this book to run out of pages!!! I love how White took historical facts and weaved them into her story. It really made everything come alive and I could visualize each character, smell the ocean, and feel the heartbreak.

For me a good book not only entertains, but also can help expand my knowledge of history and folklore. I've never heard of bottle trees nor had any idea about the stories behind them. Slaves from Africa thought that you could capture evil spirits within the bottles, thus keeping you safe from harm. When the sun rose the next day, the spirits were then destroyed.

She headed down the street without glancing back, hearing again the sound of the wind crying into the necks of open bottles, afraid of what she might see if she did.
p.180

Add to this, the time period of World War II,German U-boats off the eastern coastline, Foreign spies and you really have an interesting history lesson going on. History came alive within this book and I felt connected to each time period and to all of the characters. Even the ones that I didn't like so much on a personal level. I feel that she told Emmy and Lulu's story with incredible insight and she made you understand that even though they're separated by years in age, that when you lose someone you love during wartime, the loss and the feelings experienced are universal. I could easily see myself re-reading this one at some point and I normally don't re-read anything! Looks like I'm going to have to visit Folly Beach and bring this book with me! Maybe I'll come home with a bottle tree too!!!!
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8 of 8 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Not an original plot but still a fun read, January 8, 2011
By 
This review is from: On Folly Beach (Paperback)
My book club listed this as an upcoming read. I found the concept interesting but the book didn't move very quickly. The author deftly moved back and forth between two different stories that take place at two different times and connects them expertly and that was the only reason I continued to read it.

The one story is set during World War II on Folly Beach, SC. Though a small summer tourist spot, it becomes important as a strategic military outpost due to its proximity to other key ports. Two cousins battle over the love of first one man and eventually another and the story unwinds as the impact of their desire plays out in pain they sustain as a result of the stress this places on their relationship and that of their immediate family. I found this much more engaging than the other story line (even though it was necessary). In the present day, a young woman must rally herself from her depression after the loss of her husband in the Afghanistan conflict. Her purchase of the bookstore at Folly Beach leads her to uncover a love affair and ultimately a family secret, thus connecting us to the cousins from the 40's.

The author spends a great deal of time on the bottle tree (an object of art made from metal and resembling a tree with bottles at the end by which messages are sent). However, this isn't really clear at first, though we soon realize its importance to the plot. It also introduces some light paranormal elements into the the mystery of past secrets and facilitates some present day interaction. However, I felt the emphasis was overdone and a bit redundant. I personally anticipated the resolution of the "secrets" half way into the book, I think before the author intended, it seemed a little bit formulaic to me. I kept thinking okay, wrap it up already. Eventually the author did and suffice to say, everyone for the most part lived happily ever after. I felt a little dissatisfied with that ending, since life doesn't work like that, and essentially the reader wasn't really respected as a result. If you are looking for an easy, relaxing read then you probably won't be so picky and rate it higher than I. I thought the author could have made her point sooner and didn't necessarily have to give us the trite ending and the predictability of some of the characters.
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8 of 8 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Now I want a bottle tree...., December 20, 2010
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This review is from: On Folly Beach (Paperback)
What a great historical mystery novel set in South Carolina. This was my first Karen White book, but it won't be my last.

Two wars.

Two widows.

Seamlessly interwoven stories.

Lulu--a Nancy Drew wannabe--the character that ties past to present.

Bottle Trees--An African slave tradition to ward off evil spirits--central to both stories.

A brilliant blending of history and mystery...

Secret messages written in book margins...

A wonderful story of bravery, grief, redemption, love, forgiveness, and...learning when to move on.

Not a predictable, mushy, romance novel.

Read it on the beach or in front of a crackling fire...just read it.

I'm very tempted to put a bottle tree in my yard.

I bet you will be, too.
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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Something for everyone - mystery, history, romance, May 20, 2010
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This review is from: On Folly Beach (Paperback)
After Emmy's husband was killed in Afghanistan, she struggles with her sadness and finds herself at loose ends. At her mother's urging, she buys a bookstore in Folly Beach, South Carolina, leaving her native Indiana behind. When she gets to Folly Beach, she finds that, as part of the purchase agreement, she must continue to allow cranky Lulu (the former owner's sister) to sell her bottle trees out of the store.

As Emmy goes through boxes of old books she finds in the house she rents and in the store, she discovers some cryptic messages in the margins of many of the books. Her curiosity is aroused, so she searches through every book and logs the messages she finds into her computer. Between the notes and some information she gets from Lulu, Emmy begins to piece together a mystery from the 1940's. Lulu has diligently kept the mystery a secret for over 60 years, so she initially resists its coming to light, only to discover that the revelation gives her a sense of peace and relief.

On Folly Beach was my first experience with Karen White`s work and I was captivated right from the start. The book is written as two parallel stories - one set in 1942 and the other set in the present time. The 1940's story slowly reveals the mystery that Emmy is trying to solve in the present day.

I enjoyed so many elements of this story - the great characters, the setting (South Carolina's lowcountry!), the mystery and the history. I think most readers will enjoy the bookstore setting and the literary references throughout the book.

The characters in this story are well developed and believable. None of them are perfect, and I couldn't help but like them in spite of their flaws. I found myself rooting for Emmy - I wanted her to find some peace so she could move forward with her life. I even found myself caring about crusty Lulu, because I knew she had a softer side somewhere.

I don't want to give them away, since they're a part of the mystery, but I found the historical aspects of the story to be fascinating and after reading the author's note in the back, I found myself doing a little research after I read On Folly Beach. I love books that pique my curiosity like that! There's also a nice interview with Karen White and some discussion questions at the back of this book. This wonderful book would make a good bookclub read.
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Not perfect, but a still a very good read, July 14, 2010
This review is from: On Folly Beach (Paperback)
Karen White is an author that keeps popping up on my Amazon "you might like this" lists. After seeing her name so many times and finding out that part of the story is set in Noblesville, Indiana (which is in my neck of the woods) I decided this would be a good time to give one of her novels a try.

Emmy Hamilton is a young widow drowning in her grief over the loss of her husband in the war in Afghanistan. She is living with her parents and working at the bookstore they own while trying to come to terms with his death. Emmy's mother grew up on Folly Beach, South Carolina and has always felt the pull of the beach and the ocean. When Emmy doesn't seem to be able to move on with her life, her mother puts things in motion for Emmy to buy the bookstore on Folly Beach and to give her a fresh start in a new location.

There are lots of back stories here - the struggles Emmy has had in her relationship with her mother, the history of Folly Beach, WWII, and the damage tragedies can inflict emotionally on both adults and children. A lot of content here along with a good story and a great setting.

The story was a bit slow to start for me and I had trouble getting into it until around page 50 or so but then the story took over and became engrossing. Also, there were a couple of problems with the novel that keeps it from being a 5-star for me but I hesitate to go into them since they would give the storyline away and that's not fair for the reader.

Even with some of the issues I had with the book that didn't make it a "perfect" read for me, it still is a VERY good narrative and well worth the time to read and enjoy. If you are looking for a beach/summer read but want something of substance rather than fluff, this would be a great choice.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars An Intriguing Story, May 24, 2010
This review is from: On Folly Beach (Paperback)
I am so impressed with this book! I can not wait to read more of Karen White's novels. This story is so intricately woven between life on Folly Beach during WWII and 2009. I have not finished it as yet but am close and can hardly put it down. A great story about love, love lost, yearning, and putting lives together from the past to the future.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars As Always, a Phenomenal Read!, May 20, 2010
This review is from: On Folly Beach (Paperback)
Emmy Hamilton is a recent widow; her husband, a soldier, was killed in Afghanistan. As to be expected, she's having a difficult time getting over his death. Her mother, Paige, insists that he would have wanted her to do more with her life other than stay in their small town in Indiana and work at Paige's bookstore. She encourages Emmy go to Folly Beach, a sanctuary for many, and buy the small town's bookstore, Folly's Finds.

Emmy is reluctant at first; she's perfectly fine with staying where she is. However, when her mother buys a box of books from Folly's Finds, Emmy discovers that several of the books have messages written in them. She's always had a special "sense" about certain things, and when she touches a few of the books they send tingles up her spine.

She arrives in Folly Beach and meets Abigail, the current owner, and Abigail's aunt Lulu. Lulu is quite the interesting character; she's not exactly pleased to see Emmy there. Emmy purchases the bookstore, with the condition that Lulu will be allowed to remain as an employee of Folly's Finds and continue to sell her very interesting bottle trees.

As she renovates the bookstore, Emmy continues to find old books with messages written in them. They appear to be love notes written by a young man and woman during World War II. She eventually finds out more about the history of Folly Beach and of the couple who communicated via the old books from an initially reluctant Lulu. She learns that it wasn't merely a young love that was kept secret between the pages, she also discovers a possible murder & mysterious disappearance.

Karen White's writing never ceases to amaze me. I've read all of her previous work and have enjoyed each of them tremendously. In On Folly Beach, White intricately weaves together two stories of love and loss. The chapters shift between the 1940s and present day and this is done in a very fluid manner. Each chapter reveals a new piece to the puzzle. I instantly became invested in the storyline and the characters. White added a bit of history and folklore to the story, really enhancing the already powerful story.

Lulu's bottle trees intrigued me. African slaves brought the tradition of the bottle tree to the United States in the 18th century. The bottles on the trees ward off evil spirits; spirits who get caught in the bottles are unable to escape.

In the story, a young Lulu also uses the bottle trees to communicate with loved ones who have gone away.

In case you haven't realized it yet, I highly recommend these books. The Southern setting, the mystery, the characters all come together to form a phenomenal read!
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Ghosts from the past become real-life inspiration for finding love in the future., May 12, 2010
This review is from: On Folly Beach (Paperback)
This book is a gem in disguise. On the surface, it is an story about women, the men they love (and lost), and finding forgiveness for others and ultimately for themselves. The story is told in flashback style, with a glimpse of Folly beach in the 1940's (war time) and also more currently in the year 2009. in the flashback story, Maggie and Lulu are parentless sisters, living with their cousin Cat (who is more than a bit flirtatious with the boys). Their live on Folly Beach is typical of lives during war time, but it is tenderly mixed with the stories of the men they met and loved, and what became of those relationships.

The contemporary story centers on Emmy, as she faces a sorrowful loss of her own. She tries to move on, and during a twist of fate, finds that she is moving to Folly Beach herself to manage the job of "finding herself." There she runs into some of the ghosts and real-life people who were featured in the flashback story.

Often, stories told in flashback are confusing to read, as they shift from the past actions to current events, the readers sometimes have difficulty keeping it all straight. Not so with this story. The author keeps the names, circumstances and events so clearly easy to follow, that the reader will absolutely enjoy the anticipation of reading from past events and then caching up to what is happening in the future sections.

This book is a love story that will inspire anyone who has lost a love, or who is in love for the first time. I recommend it to anyone of any age, it is skillfully written and was a joy to read.
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On Folly Beach
On Folly Beach by Karen White
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