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Thursday, August 12, 2010

Virtual Book Club Officially Open: On Folly Beach!!

Are you ready for Virtual Book Club? (By the way, I just saw a mash-up of Jane Austen’s books and the movie, Fight Club, called Jane Austen's Fight Club. Pretty hilarious if you want to take a look.)

August is Beach Book Month, and for anyone new, we’re going to be discussing On Folly Beach. I’ll start us off with a few big ideas from the Discussion Guide, but please feel free to comment on any aspect of the book you choose.

Also, I’m looking ahead to September as possible Young Adult Month, so if you have any suggestions or recommendations for YA reads, I’d love to hear them! A few I had in mind are Suzanne Collins' The Hunger Games and Gayle Forman's If I Stay.

Okay, shall we get started with our On Folly Beach discussion? Some ideas to talk about:

1.    Setting: What did you think of Folly Beach as a setting? The author’s descriptions? The name “Folly Beach” and its significance?

2.    Characters: Who was your favorite? Anyone you didn’t like? Why? Anyone you had trouble wrapping your head around?

3.    Perspectives: Did you like that the story was told from the third person, but switched back and forth between WWII era and present day? Did you find yourself looking forward to reading one part over the other? Why?

4.    Mystery: If you’re finished, you know there’s quite a shocker toward the end. Did you see it coming? Feelings about it?

5.    Romance: There are several romantic relationships described in the book. Did one ring more true than another? Were they satisfying?

6.    English teacher question: Comment on a symbol, such as the bottle trees.

Remember, you don’t have to answer all questions, and you can talk about whatever you like. The discussion will no doubt be more lively if you read other people's comments first and respond to what’s already been said, as well as provide your own insights. We hope to hear from you soon!!


Eve Marie Mont said...

I'll get us started with a few general comments. I loved all the research involved and the literary references! It took me a little time to get into the book at first and to warm up to Emma who seemed a bit cold, but I think that was the point. She was grieving and closed off to the world, so the characterization seemed realistic.

The book got really good for me around p. 100 when Emma meets Lulu and Abigail, and we are introduced to Folly's Finds. I wish I had a bookstore like that near me! And oh, the description of Heath coming out of the ocean with his dog didn't hurt at all!

By p. 160 (I took notes), I was beginning to see similarities to books like Possession and Atonement, both of which I loved! That was the point at which I became more interested in the WWII plot and the drama going on between Maggie and Cat. When Cat opened Maggie's copy of The Great Gatsby, I wanted to kill her.

Okay, I'll stop there for now...

Jill D. said...

Okay, I'll chime in since I finished the book yesterday, and very much enjoyed it. As a school librarian, book and beach lover, there was much for me to identify with in this book. I had to chuckle when Jolene entered the house Emmy is renting and says, "I love what you've done with the place. What is this- early librarian?" Of course Folly's Finds, both in the past and present times holds great appeal for me.

I recently read THE FORGOTTEN GARDEN which also moved back and forth between past and present. I found I really enjoyed the mystery that developed in both stories moving back and forth in the different time periods, trying to figure out what events in the past led to events in the present. I also thought of THE GUERNSEY LITERARY AND POTATO PEEL PIE SOCIETY in terms of the WWII and literary themes. I'd recommend both of those books to anybody who enjoyed ON FOLLY BEACH.

The setting of the book was quite appealing to me, in fact I'm planning on looking it up on the web to learn more about the area as it is today.
Thanks to Eve for suggesting this book and trying out the virtual book club. I hadn't heard of this book before so this was a great way to read a new recommendation and share it with others.
Great idea!

Anna said...

I really enjoyed this book, especially the WWII aspect of the story and all the bookish references. I thought Emma was a bit nosy, but I liked her anyway. Here's the link to my review:


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Marie said...

I really liked this book. I was drawn in by the title and surprised to learn that there really is such a place. I’m wondering if the name could be associated with an old-fashioned meaning of “folly” meaning not so much “foolishness” as “impracticality” or “whimsicality”. Rich people used to build “follies’ on their estates - costly little buildings, sometimes like a miniature castle, with no practical use other than fun or a good time.

I like the way the book interwove stories of several women, almost 70 years apart, all of whom have lost someone beloved because of war. For me, 1942 was more compelling, because of the urgency of the war-time situation. (I was not aware that the German U-boat presence along the Atlantic coastline was so extensive - things you never learned in school). I think I found 2009 more enjoyable, though - the descriptions were so real that I felt as though I were there.

The various characters were well delineated. I found it interesting that Emma had the psychic gift of “the knowing” since at first she seemed so closed to everything, It was good to see her open up. Cat certainly was easy to hate, but also has a vulnerability because of all the tragic things she had already experienced in her young life. For this reason neither Maggie nor Lulu can give up on her. Interestingly, Lulu becomes an advocate for Jolene, another unlovable character, because she reminds Lulu of Cat, with her spunk and her power over men.

Of course, I love the descriptions of the town, the beach, and especially the bookstore with its little boutique and bottle-tree yard. Heath’s house is gorgeous, all glass, and its marsh came alive with all its biodiversity and colors and smells and textures - the wonderful “pluff mud”. Emma never was able to go past the end of the little boardwalk of the dock until, after placing a final note to Ben inside the bottle-tree, she was ready to climb into Heath’s kayak to explore the marsh. A great ending for the book - I wouldn’t mind a sequel.