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Folly [Paperback]

Laurie R. King
4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (32 customer reviews)
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Book Description

May 28 2002
An acclaimed master of suspense creates a heroine you will never forget in this superbly chilling novel of a woman who begins a desperate undertaking that may transform her life--or end it.

WHAT HAPPENS IF YOUR WORST FEARS AREN’T ALL IN YOUR MIND?

Rae Newborn is a woman on the edge: on the edge of sanity, on the edge of tragedy, and now on the edge of the world. She has moved to an island at the far reaches of the continent to restore the house of an equally haunted figure, her mysterious great-uncle; but as her life begins to rebuild itself along with the house, his story starts to wrap around hers. Powerful forces are stirring, but Rae cannot see where her reality leaves off and his fate begins.

Fifty-two years old, Rae must battle the feelings that have long tormented her--panic, melancholy, and a skin-crawling sense of watchers behind the trees. Before she came here, she believed that most of the things she feared existed only in her mind. And who can say, as disturbing incidents multiply, if any of the watchers on Folly Island might be real? Is Rae paranoid, as her family and the police believe, or is the threat real? Is the island alive with promise--or with dangers?

With Folly, award-winning author LAURIE R. KING once again powerfully redefines psychological suspense on a sophisticated and harrowing new level, and proves why legions of readers and reviewers have named her a master of the genre.

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From Amazon

"The thing about madness was, it just took so damn much energy, and it was so thoroughly tedious in the meantime." Master woodworker Rae Newborn knows madness intimately, with every bone, every pore, every particle of her being. At 52, with three suicide attempts, extended hospitalizations, the death of her husband and daughter, and a vicious attack behind her, Rae has come to Folly Island, far out in the Straits of Juan de Fuca, to rebuild her life by building a house:
She would pull herself together, she would go and rebuild Desmond's house, she would lift his walls and dwell within them quietly all the rest of her days. Everything that House was lay there waiting for her to take it up: House as shelter, House as permanence, House as a continuation and a legacy, comfort and challenge, safety and beauty, symbol and reality joined as one.
Bequeathed to Rae by Desmond Newborn, a great-uncle she never met, Folly Island is lovely indeed. But when Rae discovers Desmond's journal in the 70-year-old ruins of his house, she learns that Desmond had his own internal horrors to confront on the island. As she labors in solitude, her prickly nature deterring all but the most determined of her would-be neighbors, it's not just her well-being that's at stake. Rae must prove herself sane if she is to have any contact with her beloved granddaughter Petra. So when the "skin-crawling feeling of being watched" doesn't fade, she does her best to ignore it. But does paranoia have its roots in reality? And is Rae doomed to repeat her ancestor's tragic end?

So effectively does King weave together past and present--the shrouded history of Desmond's life and death on Folly, and the tense, dusty, exhilaratingly panicky account of Rae's wrestling with old demons and new timber--that the future seems less important than the author might have wished. In other words, the eventual unmasking of Rae's watcher pales in comparison to the gradual revelation of Rae herself within King's haunted and haunting narrative. But with such a strong character and such moodily lovely prose, readers shouldn't miss the denouement-driven trappings of standard suspense. --Kelly Flynn --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.

From Publishers Weekly

Beautiful prose and intriguing characters can't quite save the confusing, and at times needlessly complicated, plot of this challenging psychological thriller, set on a fictional addition to the San Juan Island chain in Washington state, from Edgar-winner King. Talented, 52-year-old wood artist Rae Newborn suffers from severe depression, having survived several suicide attempts, as well as the death of her beloved second husband and their young daughter in a car crash. After being mugged by two strangers near her mainland home, Rae decides to wwork for healing by rebuilding the house called Folly that her great uncle, Desmond Newborn, constructed in the '20s as a way of mending his own war-wounded psyche. She capriciously dumps all her medications into Puget Sound, then lives in a tent while she digs and saws and chisels her way to bringing Folly and herself back to life. In uncovering and solving one murder, she works toward regaining sanity and--perhaps--love. While King skillfully portrays psychological illness, the book's sheer complexity of detail is overwhelming. There's more mass than the average mind can keep straight, and the passages about rebuilding Folly, especially, have a tendency to bog down. The denouement is a bit hokey, though definitely more attention-grabbing than all the rest put together. (Feb. 27)Forecast: Fans of King's Mary Russell and Kate Martinelli series will ensure strong initial sales, as will some serious ad/promo and a preview in each paperback copy of Night Work, currently on sale. This is far from King's best work, though, and may turn off some of her fans, leading to poor word of mouth and a weakening of sales down the road.

Copyright 2001 Cahners Business Information, Inc.

--This text refers to the Hardcover edition.

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Customer Reviews

Most helpful customer reviews
4.0 out of 5 stars Fresh As A Daisy Aug. 4 2003
Format:Paperback
I found this to be a compelling book of renewal, both material and spiritual. We join the story as 52 year old Rae newborn is waving goodbye to her family after being dropped off on a deserted island. On this island she plans to rebuild a house that had originally been built by her great uncle. She also hopes to rebuild herself after fighting her way through severe depression.
During construction of the house we learn all about Rae's past, the reasons behind her depression and her fears. We also learn about her great uncle Desmond and the mystery surrounding his life and death.
But while everything appears to be progressing well, we get a sense that something is not quite right. Someone appears to be trying to find her and she continues to get the feeling she is being watched, but is never sure whether that's part of her mental problems or that it's actually happening.
Suspense builds steadily with some remarkable discoveries taking place. I found the last 100 pages or so were filled with unexpected twists and revelations. This is a very enjoyable book containing a terrific story of discovery and renewal coupled with a very interesting mystery and tense finale.
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Format:Hardcover
Rae Newborn is a 50-something woman who has struggled with mental illness virtually all of her adult life. However, after she is attacked in an attempted rape a few short weeks after her beloved husband and young daughter are killed in a car accident, she goes over the edge, spending months in a mental institution. When she finally begins to emerge on the path to recovery, she makes a decision to head for an isolated, unhabited (fictional) island off the coast of Washington state. Years before, Rae's uncle had come to the same island for peace and solitude and had built himself a home; when his near-completed house burnt almost to the ground, he disappeared. Rae, formerly a well-known furniture-maker and artist, resolves to rebuild her Uncle Desmond's house despite how "crazy" this might seem to others, including her grown daughter. The book mostly details Rae's thoughts and reflections as she works on her house in solitude, although she receives occasional visits from her supply boat, the local sheriff, and a female park ranger. Interspersed throughout the story are selections from Rae's own journal as well as that of her Uncle Desmond, which she uncovers in the course of her labors. The theme is that of a woman building her future (literally) while still recovering from her traumatic past. There's a few surprising twists thown in at the end, although the climatic conflict of the book was over quickly and a little too neatly. Other than that, however, the book was an enjoyable and engaging read.
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Format:Paperback
"What does it mean to lose one's mind? Where does it go? What is sane when the world is mad by contrast?" So reads a 1918 entry in the diary of Rae Newborn's Great-Uncle Desmond, the first builder of the "Folly" or great house on a lonely 150 acre island in the San Juan chain in the Pacific Northwest.
Rae, an internationally known expert in wordworking, plans to recreate Uncle Desmond's house using only a picture taken 70 years ago. Subject to depression her whole life, and recovering from a complete breakdown after a drunken driver killed her husband and 9 year old daughter, Rae comes to Folly Island after a year in a mental institution. Rae's journey to Folly has come to mirror Desmond's--an effort to rebuild his house in an attempt to rebuild her life.
Desmond, considered a misfit after physical and psychological injuries sustained in World War I, escapes from the Newborn's oppressive Boston household to the freedom of the beautiful Sanctuary Islan, which was renamed Folly Island after Desmond's building attempt. Desmond's history comes out during Rae's stay on the island and she is particularly troubled with what seems to be a family history of madness.
She struggles to overcome her own panic and fears on the island, all the while feeling someone is watching her. Her lawyer gets a message to her that someone paid thugs to attack her two years ago--the final event that triggered her breakdown. She also is told the her greedy son-in-law is trying to declare her mentally incompetent, so he can get control of her sizable fortune. Then things begin to disappear around her camp, disrupting the stability her almost finished house has given her. Her past and present family mystery deepens when she finds the 70 year old skeleton of Desmond in a cave near the house.
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1.0 out of 5 stars Wake Me Up When It's Over. July 6 2002
Format:Paperback
If I had been given this book to read without knowing the author's name, and when finished, was told that she was Laurie R. King, I would not have believed it. I've experienced and appreciated her immense talent and versatility across several genres, but I can hear her brilliantly and deftly rendered Holmes snapping, "Good God, Russell, are you daft? Put that book down before it renders you unconscious!" In short, this was one of the most boring books I've ever read. Details are important in getting to know a character and what makes them tick, their passions, eccentricities, their psychology, and there is some of that, but not enough. Instead, Ms. King spends seemingly endless pages focusing closer and closer on the main character's craft of woodworking/sculpting-cum-housebuilding. After getting a little tidbit of character insight, the reader is then forced to read detailed descriptions of tools: what they are, their history, what they look like, how they feel, what they sound like, what they look like hanging from a belt, and so on. This method of extrapolation is extended to all aspects of whatever can be done with tools, guns, camping equipment, and even severe depression, on and on and on, until you get to the next tiny piece of succinct but well written detail that makes you think, "At last, we get to the real reason for being here!". This doesn't happen, at least for me. Taking a cue from the author's thanks to some "courageous individuals", whose struggles with mental illness she apparently tapped, her attempts to convey what it's like to be severely depressed sounds exactly as if she's writing, or rewriting, what someone tried to convey. Read more ›
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Most recent customer reviews
4.0 out of 5 stars different but better
I have read the first two of the Mary Russel series before I read this one. I like this one much better. The Mary Russel series is good. Read more
Published on July 4 2004 by Happy Yeah
5.0 out of 5 stars Should be on Oprah's List!
WOW! I love the way the story slowly unfolds, increasing in depth and mystery. I've visited the San Juans twice and envied Rae's sojurn there, although not during winter or... Read more
Published on March 5 2004
5.0 out of 5 stars Just because you're paranoid....
Rae Newborn, an internationally famous woodworker, moves to a remote island to rebuild her great-uncle's house. Read more
Published on Nov. 5 2003 by Debra Hamel
5.0 out of 5 stars Completely absorbing
This is one of the best books I've read in recent months. I was absorbed about the story of a woman recovering from a breakdown who goes to live on an island and rebuild the house... Read more
Published on May 13 2003 by Kay L. Robart
5.0 out of 5 stars One of King's best efforts!
Having read and loved both the Mary Russell and Kate Martinelli series' by King, I expected a similar read with Folly, but I was surprised and pleased to see her go in an entirely... Read more
Published on June 18 2002 by Cathy Wright
5.0 out of 5 stars A MUST READ
I enjoyed this book so much, and I was so sad when it ended. I found myself putting the book down, because I was coming to the end, and I wasn't ready to let go of the characters... Read more
Published on June 17 2002 by N. Gargano
4.0 out of 5 stars Laurie King
Laurie King continues to deliver quality in her most recent Folly. Rae Newborn escapes to the San Juan Islands in the Pacific northwest after a family tragedy that culminates in... Read more
Published on March 2 2002 by V. B. Earle
3.0 out of 5 stars sherylval@aol.com
Right off the bat, I must say that I am a tremendous fan of Laurie King's Kate Martinelli Series. Based on that series alone I would buy any of her books. Read more
Published on Dec 13 2001 by Sheryl Valentine
5.0 out of 5 stars ANOTHER WONDERFUL LAURIE R. KING BOOK
I HAVE LOVED READING THIS BOOK. RAE NEWBORN IS A WOMAN WHO COULD BE ANYONE OF US. HER CHALLENGES, TRIUMPHS AND OH SO HUMAN RESPONSES STRIKE CHORDS OF EMPATHY OVER AND OVER AGAIN. Read more
Published on Dec 9 2001 by Ellae Elinwood
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