On Folly Beach by Karen White

When Emmy Hamilton loses her husband to the war in Afghanistan, her mother is determined to persuade Emmy to move to Folly Beach, South Carolina, and to buy the local bookstore. Emmy’s mother hopes that her daughter will be able to leave the past behind her and find some distraction in Folly Beach.

Emmy, however, doesn’t really want to leave at first, since she still grieves over her husband’s death and she doesn’t feel ready for a change. She is living in the past and is tormented by memories and shattered dreams. But when the young woman finds love letters and an image of a bottle tree in a box of used books from Folly’s bookstore, she is eager to find out more about the mysterious writers. Emmy is curious about the hidden messages and thus, she decides to move to Folly Beach and to buy the store. There, she meets Lulu, the late owner’s sister who is very difficult and grumpy. Lulu sells her bottle trees from the store’s backyard and Emmy has to deal with her quite often. Although she tries to ignore the old woman, Emmy can’t help but feel sorry for Lulu, as she senses that the old woman must have had a difficult and tragic past. Furthermore, Emmy feels that Lulu must somehow be connected to the mysterious love letters, but she doesn’t really know how and plans to find out. As the young woman digs deeper into Folly Beach’s past, she uncovers many family secrets, a mysterious disappearance during WWII and a touching love story that has affected Lulu’s family in many ways.

While Emmy learns about all these secrets, she finally begins to understand Lulu. Moreover, she has found a way to cope with her grief and slowly, Emmy realizes that she must leave the past behind and concentrate on the present. With the help of her new friends in Folly Beach, Emmy has learned that she must start living again because life is too short and one never knows when it might come to an end!

Alternating between WWII and the present, On Folly Beach tells the story of Emmy and Lulu, two women who couldn’t be more different and who don’t seem to have anything in common.   However, in the end, they discover that they were brought together by circumstances beyond their control and that they can learn a lot from each other, especially when it comes to second chances and broken hearts.

When I asked for some reading recommendations a few weeks ago, some of you mentioned this book and I am so glad that you did, because it was perfect for me! Thank you so much for telling me about it. You have no idea how much I loved this novel! For the last two days, I have been taking On Folly Beach everywhere with me and I read it whenever I had the chance to do so. I was devouring this book as I devour chocolate and I was craving more and more with every page I read. I couldn’t put it down, since I was eager to find out how it would end, but at the same time, I was sad because I knew that I would have to part with all the characters that have become so dear to me.

On Folly Beach had all the right ingredients for me – romance, suspense, literary references and engaging characters. Furthermore, the author’s writing was just beautiful and full of emotions. I loved her wonderful descriptions of Folly Beach and the unforgettable atmosphere that Karen White has created in this novel. But what I loved most about this book was the fact that it revolved around a bookstore; I loved reading about Folly Beach’s book shop and I really enjoyed reading about the secret coded messages in books. It was really intriguing to find out about these love letters and to discover how the love story would end. What I also loved was the fact that there were two stories intertwined in this book; while I liked Emmy’s story, I found Lulu’s tale more fascinating and it was her tragic and eventful past that moved me and left me feeling sad. That’s why this book was so great – it made me think about these tales after I finished reading it and it lingered in my mind for a long time. And that says a lot about this novel!

I hope you will get the chance to read this amazing book in the future and I hope you’ll enjoy it as much as I did! I highly recommend it to everyone out there who likes to read books that deal with the past and to those who are interested in WWII.

I would like to thank Penguin Group for sending me this wonderful novel!

Other reviews:

Melody’s Reading Corner

You’ve Gotta Read This

Bermudaonion’s Blog

Peeking Between the Pages

Andreea

 

Days of Grace by Catherine Hall

Alternating between WWII and the present, Days of Grace tells the story of Nora Lynch, who at the age of twelve, is sent as an evacuee to live with the Rivers family in the English countryside. Nora immediately feels welcomed and loved by Mr. and Mrs. Rivers and their daughter Grace. From the outside, the Rivers seem like the perfect family, but in reality, there are many cracks beneath the surface, and Nora is too young to understand. The young girl is just happy to have found a friend in Grace and she enjoys every minute that they spend together. However, as her feelings for Grace become stronger with each passing day, Nora realizes that she cannot suppress her passion for Grace any longer, thus, she decides to return to London. 

When a pregnant young woman enters her life fifty years later, Nora is ready to reveal the secrets that she has kept for so long, and when she does so, the reader will be very surprised!

Days of Grace is an emotional story about friendship, suppressed passions, dark secrets and jealousy. As soon as you begin reading about Nora, you cannot help but feel moved by her dramatic story. That’s why this gripping tale will linger in your mind for a long time, as you will sympathize with Nora and you will be eager to learn all of her secrets.

I must say that I normally don’t like to read books on war, but I was interested in this one because I wanted to learn more about the children who were evacuated during the war. I wanted to find out how these children felt and how they dealt with this difficult situation, since they were separated from their parents. Furthermore, I wanted to learn how they were treated by their surrogate families. That’s why I liked Days of Grace so much; it showed all of these things and even more.

Days of Grace is an engaging novel packed with beautiful writing, historical detail, drama and heart-warming characters. Overall, I was really pleased with this book and I would recommend it to everyone out there who likes to read books on war and to Sarah Waters and Daphne du Maurier fans!

Note: I would like to thank Meredith Burks from Penguin Group for sending me a copy of this book!

Andreea