Author: Marthe Jocelyn
Publication Year: 256
Genre: Fiction, Young Adult
Source: Received from LibraryThing Early Reviewers program
From the cover:
A love story, a social history, and an act that echoes through generations.
Set in the late 1800’s, Marthe Jocelyn’s stunning new novel is told in the voices of four people whose lives and destinies intertwine. There’s Mary, who begins “exceeding ignorant” (apart from what a girl can learn from family mayhem, a dead mother, and a grim stepmother) and winds up encountering lust and betrayal when she becomes a servant in a fine house in London. Mary’s nemesis is another maid in the household, Eliza. Eliza also knows lust and betrayal, but she doesn’t know who is betraying who.
Mary’s and Eliza’s actions will intersect with a foundling home in London, where Oliver is a teacher who tries to avoid feeling anything that will perhaps make him live a real life. And then there’s the foundling boy, James. Who will he grow up to be if he doesn’t know where he comes from?
In the chaotic way of every life, where the past, present, and future collide, Marthe Jocelyn has traced a story that is heartbreaking and unforgettable.
A few months ago, I saw this book making its way through the book blogs, and I was always mesmerized by the cover. It was so beautiful, and the girl looked so sad! I had so much else to read, though, that it wasn’t really on my immediate radar. In May, though, I won a copy through the Early Reviewer program, and it sat on my shelf until a few days ago when the cover once again caught my eye.
I’m sad that it took me this long to get around to reading it.
Folly is told from four different perspectives, which alternate for each of the short chapters. The chapters also change time period depending on who is speaking, though I didn’t figure this out right away for some reason – apparently I just skimmed over the date stamps. Mary and Eliza tell their stories from a few years earlier than James and Oliver tell theirs; as the narrative goes on, it becomes more and more obvious that the stories will eventually intertwine, and you can predict how they might do that, which makes you feel even more sympathy towards the characters. Even though you can see what’s coming, Folly keeps you interested, because you want to know exactly what happens to get these characters where they are. There are also some surprises along the way, even with all of the foreshadowing.
Jocelyn does a great job of re-creating the time period in the mind of the reader. Each of the characters is fleshed out through their narrative, painting a clear picture of who they are through their words. Mary in particular is realistically created like this, with her attitude that of a woman reminiscing on her past, complete with the dialect of a poor, uneducated girl from the countryside in England during this time period. At first, her narration is a bit jarring, but it soon pulls the reader into the cadence and becomes rather … soothing, I think. It really helped me to put myself into the setting, to think back to 19th century British society and understand the trials and tribulations that the characters were experiencing.
Definitely an interesting read, and a great piece of historical fiction for teenagers.