Written by Marthe Jocelyn
Published May, 2010 by Wendy Lamb Books
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Three fates intertwine in this moving and passionate love story set in Victorian London. Mary Finn: country girl, maid to a lord in London. Caden Tucker: liar, scoundrel, and heart’s delight. James Nelligan: age six, tossed into a herd of boys
When Mary Finn falls into the arms of handsome Caden Tucker, their frolic changes the course of her life. What possesses her? She’s been a girl of common sense until now. Mary’s tale alternates with that of young James Nelligan, a new boy in an enormous foundling home.
What I expected from Folly and what I got were two very different things. Constantly alternating points of view do little to keep hold of your interest, but create a nice surprise when coming full-circle in the end.
The alternating perspectives throughout the novel really irked me. Out of the four that take place (Mary, James, Eliza and Oliver) only two really had reason to. I felt that Eliza’s point of view was completely unecessary, and were often short and abrupt, and Oliver’s just felt out of place. For instance I think the character of Caden Tucker would have held more sway over the reader in his standing as a narrator. But, though he was sort of integral to the story (moreso than Oliver and Eliza, at least) he didn’t narrate at all. The synopsis suggests otherwise.
What initially got me stumbling over this book was the language used. I find historical reads a little slow to get into, but Folly really took the cake in that argument. There was absolutely no modernization of the language or the themes explored. Reading Folly is exactly like being thrust into the time period – which can either be a blessing or a curse, depending on your reading preferences.
The first half of the story was, to put it mildly, an excruciating read for me. I read only 27 pages or so and then had to put it down. It was a shame because I’d been waiting on reading this one for quite some time after reading the synopsis. I started up again the next day (today) and found that the reader before me had only gotten around to the 40 page mark, as there was a bookmark left in the page. It seemed I wasn’t the only reader with dwindling interest.
However, eager to press on and give the book a chance, I read on and managed to finish it. It’s quite a short book, but the language and the bland lives of the characters make it feel a lot longer. Folly isn’t a book I’ll be re-reading – or even recommending – but I am glad I did finish it, if only to see how the characters of Mary and James became intertwined.
I have to say, though, Folly isn’t a ‘passionate love story’ in the slightest! If anything it’s a cautionary tale of what can happen when a ‘smart’ girl gets swept away by love. If you’re going to go into reading this one, keep that in mind.
Recommended to: I suppose lovers of Victorian-set fiction will enjoy this one well enough. I have a bit of varied taste in the genre, but this wasn’t all what I was expecting. It chronicles mainly the day-to-day life of servants, etc. There is drama, but it’s not all that eventful.