ON FOLLY BEACH

Karen White

To most people, Folly Beach, South Carolina, is simply the last barrier island before the Atlantic. To some, it’s a sanctuary, which is why Janie Hamilton’s mother encourages her to buy the local book store, Folly’s Finds, hoping it will distract Janie from the loss of her husband in Afghanistan.

Janie is at first resistant, but intrigued after finding love letters and an image of a beautiful bottle tree in a box of used books from Folly’s Finds, and decides to take the plunge. The store’s seller insists on one condition: Janie must allow Lulu,

more …

To most people, Folly Beach, South Carolina, is simply the last barrier island before the Atlantic. To some, it’s a sanctuary, which is why Janie Hamilton’s mother encourages her to buy the local book store, Folly’s Finds, hoping it will distract Janie from the loss of her husband in Afghanistan.

Janie is at first resistant, but intrigued after finding love letters and an image of a beautiful bottle tree in a box of used books from Folly’s Finds, and decides to take the plunge. The store’s seller insists on one condition: Janie must allow Lulu, the late owner’s elderly sister, to continue selling her bottle trees from its back yard. Historically, bottle trees were brought by African slaves to the American South, and Janie had grown up with one in her backyard, and it has always been a symbol of refuge to her.

Janie generally ignores Lulu as she sifts through the love letters, wanting to learn more. But the more she discovers of the letters’ authors, the closer she feels to Lulu. As details of a possible murder and a mysterious disappearance during World War II are revealed, the two women discover that circumstances beyond their control, sixty years apart, have brought them together, here on Folly Beach. And it is here that their war-ravaged hearts can find hope for a second chance…

less …
  • NAL
  • Paperback
  • May 2010
  • 416 Pages
  • 9780451229212

Buy the Book

$15.00

indies Bookstore indies Bookstore

About Karen White

Karen White knew she wanted to be a writer after playing hooky one day in the seventh grade to read Gone With the Wind—or become Scarlett O’Hara. In spite of these aspirations, Karen pursued a degree in business and graduated cum laude with a BS in Management from Tulane University. Ten years later, after leaving the business world, she fulfilled her dream of becoming a writer and wrote her first book. In the Shadow of the Moon was published in August, 2000. This book was nominated for the prestigious RITA award in 2001 in two separate categories. Her books have since been nominated for numerous national contests including another RITA, the Georgia Author of the Year Award and in 2008 won the National Readers’ Choice Award for Learning to Breathe.

Karen currently writes what she refers to as ‘grit lit’—southern women’s fiction—and has recently expanded her horizons into writing a mystery series set in Charleston.

Karen hails from a long line of Southerners but spent most of her growing up years in London, England and is a graduate of the American School in London. She currently lives near Atlanta, Georgia with her husband and two teenage children, and a spoiled Havanese dog (who appears in several of her books), Quincy. When not writing, she spends her time reading, singing, playing piano, chauffeuring children and avoiding cooking.

Discussion Questions

Please note that some of the following questions reveal important plot points. Readers who have not finished the novel may want to stop at this point and return afterward.

Although Folly Beach, South Carolina, is a real place, “folly” also describes some of the mistakes the characters make throughout the story. What are some of these follies?

The story of the planned Nazi invasion of the East Coast is based on historical fact—is this something you already knew about before reading On Folly Beach?

Did you find Lulu a sympathetic character despite her habit of spying as a child and her abrasiveness as an adult?

Do you think Lulu can be held responsible for Peter’s death?

Despite Peter being a Nazi spy and a murderer, do you think he deserved to die? Was he truly a “bad” man?

Why do you think Maggie refused to evacuate her home before Hurricane Hugo hit?

Were Lulu and Robert wrong to not tell Maggie the truth about Peter being a Nazi spy for so many years? Do you think Maggie suspected the truth since she never wanted to go to the Atlantic House restaurant?

How many times did Lulu misinterpret what she observed, or do you think she was always correct in her interpretation?

Do you think Cat seduced Peter, or did Peter seduce Cat to not betray his secret?

Do you think Peter really loved Maggie? Do you think Maggie would have still left with Peter if she had known the truth about him?

Why do you think Lulu finally decided to tell the truth about the past to Emmy and her family?

Emmy and Lulu are linked with two different wars, and the effects of war on the homefront. What are some of the similarities between what they experienced because of war?