Last year's WOULD YOU by Jocelyn was one of my favorite books of 2009. When I saw the cover for FOLLY (Wendy Lamb Books 2010), I knew this was a very different book. And then my colleague and friend and booktalking buddy, Rosemary Chance, talked about it at the state library conference and I knew I had to read it. Yesterday was finally the day that gave me the time to sit down and read the book slowly, savoring the narrative structure, the careful character development, the tone and mood (and how often do we note those as we read?) and the diction and style Jocelyn brings to this novel set in the late 1800s in London.
Multiple narrators in different years tell the story of the Foundling Hospital for "orphans" many of whom were born out of wedlock. Mary Finn is our chief protagonist. She tells of how she was basically forced out of her own home by her new stepmother. Finn finds work as a between stairs maid. She also finds love in Caden Thomas and betrayal in one of her co-workers.
James is one of the orpahns left to the Foundling Hospital. He has spent his childhood happily with a foster family, but now it is time to return to Foundling and receive training for his future. Oliver is one of the teachers at the Foundling and also one of its former occupants. The stories all exist independently but ultimately will connect.
This was a totally absorbing read in part because of the multiple narrators but more importantly because you come to care for the three people telling their stories, to cheer their victories and suffer with them their humiliations. <320>