by Marthe Jocelyn
2010 Tundra Books
Hardcover Edition; 250 Pages
Genre: Young Adult
Source: Review Copy from Tundra Books
Release Date: May 11, 2010
3 / 5 Stars
It is the late 1800s, and a few moments of folly lock together the destinies of four people. Mary, who begins "exceeding ignorant" (apart from what a girl can learn from family mayhem, a dead mother, and a grim stepmother), but who learns more than she'd like to about lust and betrayal in the fine London house where she works as a servant. Eliza, another maid, is Mary's nemesis - but who is the betrayer and who betrayed? A teacher named Oliver avoids feeling anything, while knowing too well what matters. And then there's the fostered boy, James, torn away from the only family who cares for him to grow up in the stern confines of a foundling home. What chance does he have without knowing his roots?
One of the things that first intrigued me about this book was the cover. I'm not usually a cover person, but I found it really interesting and somewhat disturbing at the same time and I wanted to read the book Folly to see what it was all about. To be perfectly honest, I still find the cover somewhat more interesting than the actual storyline. I don't mean to imply that I didn't like the story, I just found it predictable and definitely not what I thought it would be.
The novel is told through the points of view of four characters. There is Mary Finn, Eliza (a maid), James Nelligan (an orphan boy), and Oliver (a teacher at the orphanage). This is one of the strengths of this novel as I found the viewpoints of the different characters to be interesting and unique; but I don't usually mind books that do this kind of thing. I did have a difficult time connecting with most of the characters in this novel however, and especially took a dislike to Eliza whom I didn't understand at all. I found her to be conniving, immature, and just plain silly. I really liked James Nelligan though, and could have hugged him if I could. The scene where his foster mother drops him off at the foundling home just tore at my heart and I felt my heart wrench for all those poor children who had to go through such a difficult time. One of the main themes in this novel was to bring attention to the amazing work of the foundling home establishment and the lives they saved over the years. This part of the novel I truly enjoyed learning about.
One of the things that caused confusion in this novel was the lack of detail. I found the events were choppy and important details were left out of the narrative. It was a little confusing as to how the characters just ended up at one place from another and I really wanted to know the story about how they got there and what happened. This was disconcerting to say the least and I didn't enjoy this aspect of the plot development at all. There were some good moments in this novel, but unfortunately they were clouded over by moments of confusion for the reader.
This was a quick read, and although I thought the story was fine, I would have liked more character and plot development and definitely a lot more emotion in the characters. I need to feel connected to the characters and unfortunately I didn't feel that connection in this novel. The interesting descriptions of the life of children in an early foundling home however, do make this novel one to read; it certainly makes you think about how unwed mothers and their babies were treated during these unstable times.