Folly focuses on several characters who are somehow connected; Mary, Eliza, James, and Oliver. You follow them through Victorian London and get a glimpse at their lives. There are two plots in this book; Eliza and Mary are together, as co workers working as maids. Then there’s James and Oliver; James being a Foundling and Oliver being his teacher. How these two storylines are connected is up to the reader to find out, but once revealed, Folly shows a dramatic story filled with love, and a melancholy (yet hopeful) ending.
It took me a while to get into this story. It’s a bit slow paced, but I thought Mary was such a great character in this novel, that she prevented the story from becoming dry and boring. The descriptions of Victorian London was well written and well done, especially done through the eyes of James, who has never before been to London, and seeing things through a child’s eyes makes the descriptions clear and very easy to picture.
Eliza, as a character was such a mean spiteful harpy you almost wanted to tell Mary to punch her in the face for what she’s done to her. You really do sympathize with Mary, and as her situation does worsen later in the book you can’t help but feel more sorry for her. I admire her strength and determination throughout her ordeal though, and her persistence does pay off (in one way or another). Especially in an age where women don’t really have much rights, Mary does well on her own and it’s nice to see this despite her ordeals.
I’d have to say that once Caden arrived in the picture, it became a little predictable as to what was going to happen. Yet at the end, I was close to wondering what in the heck does James and Oliver have to do with Mary and Eliza, and then it clicked in during the last few chapters. It was then that I realized, this book wasn’t so bad after all. It’s not a really happy tale, but a more somber one. Yet the ending gives an inkling feeling of hope and although it’s hopeful, it’s also melancholy. That being said, this book may not be for everyone.
Overall, I rather liked it. One of the few novels I’ve read about Victorian London that doesn’t romanticize the period. It’s serious, yet accurate plot makes it a good one to read. It’s a short book, (less than 300 pages) so don’t hesitate to pick this one up. Be patient with the slow start. It’s really Mary point of view you’re reading for.
I give it a 7 out of 10.