On Folly Beach by Karen White, 416 pages. Available in paperback.
On Folly Beach is the story of Emmy Hamilton as she searches for a new beginning while uncovering another family's past. After her soldier husband is killed in Afghanistan, Emmy moves to the barrier island of Folly Beach, South Carolina. She purchases the local bookstore, Folly's Finds, with the agreement the previous owner's older sister Lulu will remain to sell her bottle trees.(Bottle trees were said to have been brought to the American south by African slaves, as part of a tradition to ward off evil.)
Not only does Emmy inherit Lulu, but also a mystery found in the margins of books stashed in the attic of the old shop. These secret messages from World War II compel Emmy to uncover more about the author's identity while dealing with her grief.
As with all Karen White's novels, I really enjoyed On Folly Beach. I loved that Emmy owned a bookstore, and the mystery element with the old books. I am a big fan of southern fiction with the eccentric characters and gorgeous scenery and was not disappointed. Emmy came from Indiana and I appreciated the description the first time she saw the ocean.
"She'd 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 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." (pg.130-131)
Melanie adds: I had never heard of bottle trees, and appreciated their history and significance in the story. Here is a link to pictures and a store that sell these unique sculptures - Bottle Tree Store. If you are interested, I encourage you to search further...and if you buy one send me a picture!