Folly

Folly

by Susan Minot
     
 

View All Available Formats & Editions

Susan Minot's first works of fiction, Monkeys and Lust & Other Stories, sent the news of her extraordinary talent around the world. Now, with her critically acclaimed novel Folly, she enters the rooms furnished by Edith Wharton and E.M. Forster... and asserts her own clear claim to the premises.

It is 1917 when we first meet Lilian Eliot -

…  See more details below

Overview

Susan Minot's first works of fiction, Monkeys and Lust & Other Stories, sent the news of her extraordinary talent around the world. Now, with her critically acclaimed novel Folly, she enters the rooms furnished by Edith Wharton and E.M. Forster... and asserts her own clear claim to the premises.

It is 1917 when we first meet Lilian Eliot - immureed in her father's solid Beacon Hill home, coming of age among friends and retainers she has known forever. Life is Copley Square, letters written by shadowy light, and tea properly poured. But Lilian senses something more, and is "amazed by the amount of feeling sloshing about inside her. If she let it out there would be a terrible flood..."

Suddenly, into her highly polished world strolls Walter Vail, who says and does the unexpected, shattering the fine and consensual order. Lilian, the least foolish of girls, feels compelled to follow. But when Walter Vail goes to war - and marries abroad - Lilian must consider her life from a new, tinged perspective. She marries Gilbert Finch, a rumpled birdwatcher whose main virtue is that he is not a fool, and her life assumes a steadiness like "the balanced hour, half light, half shadow" before darkness sets in. Her children grow, her marriage tightens around her, she watches her own parents age. And then, as suddenly as he departed, Walter Vail returns...

Read More

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.

Read More

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780792715665
Publisher:
Chivers North America
Publication date:
06/28/1993
Pages:
308
Product dimensions:
5.25(w) x 8.50(h) x (d)

Customer Reviews

Average Review:

Write a Review

and post it to your social network

     

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

See all customer reviews >