Folly

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If there was one thing Lilian Eliot might have said about herself, it was that she knew her own mind. She was not a flighty girl; no one in Boston in 1917 would have said that about her. She wrote her thank-you notes promptly and had some wit which saved her from being too prim. No great misfortune had darkened her eighteen years—in the distance now was the war—but otherwise there was no reason for her life not to be full and prosperous and happy. But how does happiness come? As her sophisticated aunt says, even ...
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1994 Trade paperback Original ed. New. No dust jacket as issued. New book, fast shipping... Trade paperback (US). Glued binding. 292 p. Audience: General/trade.

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Folly

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Overview

If there was one thing Lilian Eliot might have said about herself, it was that she knew her own mind. She was not a flighty girl; no one in Boston in 1917 would have said that about her. She wrote her thank-you notes promptly and had some wit which saved her from being too prim. No great misfortune had darkened her eighteen years—in the distance now was the war—but otherwise there was no reason for her life not to be full and prosperous and happy. But how does happiness come? As her sophisticated aunt says, even a girl who is not an idiot can behave like one, given the right situation and the right boy. When Walter Vail, an enlisted man from New York, descends upon her, dazzling her, and then disappears, Lilian feels she will never marry. But years later she develops an interest in Gilbert Finch, an old Bostonian like herself, solitary and apart, who promises something she understands, and can love. And Walter Vail reappears. "Folly" is the story of a conventional girl with unconventional stirrings and of the two men in her life who represent different possibilities. In Lilian Eliot's world, from Beacon Hill to summers in Maine to Grand Tours in Europe between the two world wars, it is the choosing of a husband that determines a woman's life. Susan Minot has created a society and a way of life in the tradition of Edith Wharton.

The author of the national bestseller Monkeys has written a new novel that will appeal to fans of The Age of Innocence. Set in 1917 New England, it is the story of a conventional girl with unconventional stirrings, in a world where the choosing of a husband determines a woman's life.

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
A coming-of-age story set in turn-of-the-century Boston from the author of Monkeys .
Library Journal
Lillian Eliot is the product of Brahmin Boston, whose traditions and socially correct attitudes have been instilled in her. She has been cast in the mold. Yet at times she longs to break free, to be someone different. Lillian sees that her choice of a husband will determine her future, but she finds herself most comfortable with what is familiar and marries accordingly. Later in life she is again faced with the choice--to break free or stay. In making her choice, Lillian finally discovers herself. This is a book of the inner workings of the heart and the mind. In elegant, eloquent prose, Minot captures the essence and the impact of life's decisions. Previewed in Prepub Alert, LJ 6/1/92.-- Joanna M. Burkhardt, Univ. of Rhode Island Coll. of Continuing Education Lib., Providence
Donna Seaman
Minot, author of Monkeys , is a writer of great charm, empathy, and awareness. Her second novel ushers us back to the eve of World War I. Lilian Eliot is a typical young Boston Brahmin, attending the appropriate parties and conforming to the proper social mores, but she wonders about the storms of longing that batter her mind and swell her heart. She marvels at the glossy veneer maintained by her straight-backed family and friends, certain that these storms, or something like them, rage behind their carefully composed faces as they do behind hers. While none of the men of her acquaintance arouse her interest, a stranger from New York about to go off to war instantly enchants her. Lilian pushes the very limits of propriety to be alone with Walter Vail, but he's a flirt, and their attraction recedes into nostalgic fantasy as Lilian waits stoically for another romantic awakening. Her eventual marriage to Gilbert Finch settles abruptly into an ossified routine, and Lilian soon loses her sense of herself, feeling dulled and padded. The story evolves into an exploration of the sacrifices and torments of passionless marriage. Minot's precise, poised prose is almost stately, recalling the fine art of Edith Wharton and Kate Chopin, but with a wholly original spin and keenness. She animates each scene effortlessly, perfectly rendering the mischief of squabbling and the fleetness of banter and gossip while expressing various modes of emotion with gentle, resonant eloquence.
Kirkus Reviews
Minot (Monkeys; Lust) is a curious writer: hardly a particle of her work is original, but she writes brilliantly in the tone, manner, and style of past writers—Fitzgerald, Hemingway, James, Cather, Woolf, even Marquand and Evan Connell—the flavor and energies of whose work she seems to have absorbed like blotting paper. This, her first novel, is the story of Lilian Eliot, daughter of upper-class Boston parents, who in 1917 is swept off her feet by a handsome young man about to depart for the war. He proves something of a cad, staying in Europe after 1918 to marry there, leaving the sensitive Lilian to make what she can of her privileged but emptiness-threatened life in Boston. Not until she's 26 and the Jazz Age has arrived does Lilian meet and marry one Gilbert Finch, a quiet young man of the proper class who also fought in Europe and now enjoys bird-watching. Gilbert will provide Lilian with three children, will recover from a nervous breakdown that's rivetingly and beautifully described, and over time will give his wife—as the 1920's end and the 1930's begin sifting through the hourglass—stability and order but not passion. The handsome young cad from 1917—Walter Vail—will reappear, giving Lilian occasion once and all to reckon up her life. Throughout, Minot offers exquisitely crafted narrative bouquets in these pages of tone-perfect and tireless garnerings from the subjects and spirit of the masters. Her eye for the acute detail is flawless, period flavor is impeccable, character is drawn with conciseness, and style is repeatedly lovely, with seldom a clumsy step. Expert, often poignantly moving prose about life in a past time and place.Rich with pleasures from start to end, so long as you don't mind their being mainly secondhand.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780671749514
  • Publisher: Pocket Books
  • Publication date: 6/1/1994
  • Pages: 288
  • Product dimensions: 6.26 (w) x 8.60 (h) x 0.76 (d)

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