On Folly Beach by Karen White

Emmy has just lost her husband and is at loose ends trying to figure out what she plans to do with the rest of her life. Her mother, Paige, realizes the trouble that Emmy is in and recommends that she leave town, start over somewhere else.  Though their relationship has always been fraught with tension, mom has been nice enough to pick out where Emmy should go – Paige’s hometown of Folly Beach, South Carolina.  Even though she has more than a few misgivings, Emmy buys an old bookstore on Folly Beach and moves there to start rebuilding a life that is her own.

My introduction to Karen White came through the Tradd Street Series – The House on Tradd Street and The Girl on Legare, both were fun ghost stories tinged with romance, similarly set in South Carolina.  While I enjoyed those novels, I was enchanted by this one.  Dipping into World War II for a parallel story about Lulu, the older woman who comes as a package deal with the store Emmy purchases, and her star crossed sister Maggie, is a tense and intriguing mystery that plays a role in the present day.  I empathized with Emmy’s grief and her struggle to understand how and if she would be able to move on, and watched gleefully as she became embroiled in solving the clues left in books in the house she rents from the mysterious man with the broken engagement.

Let me say that this particular novel is a book lover’s dream with plenty of literary references, and intriguing interchanges facilitated by books.  Woo! White does a wonderful job navigating between the past and the present, though I have to admit that my attention wandered a little in the present, and  I favored the past because of the mystery that is unfolding there.  I was trying to piece together what happens!  The characters in this novel were well considered, warm and sympathetic and trying to guess their stories and their drive kept me invested in this satisfying tale.  My mom can’t wait to wrest it from my hands, and all you mystery lovers interested in World War II should be trying to hunt up a copy as well!

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