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4.1 6
by Marthe Jocelyn

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Three fates intertwine in this moving and passionate love story set in Victorian London. 

Mary Finn: country girl, maid to a lord in London

Caden Tucker: liar, scoundrel, and heart's delight

James Nelligan: age six, tossed into a herd of boys

When Mary Finn falls into the arms of handsome Caden Tucker, their frolic changes the course of her


Three fates intertwine in this moving and passionate love story set in Victorian London. 

Mary Finn: country girl, maid to a lord in London

Caden Tucker: liar, scoundrel, and heart's delight

James Nelligan: age six, tossed into a herd of boys

When Mary Finn falls into the arms of handsome Caden Tucker, their frolic changes the course of her life. What possesses her? She's been a girl of common sense until now. Mary's tale alternates with that of young James Nelligan, a new boy in an enormous foundling home.

In Folly, Marthe Jocelyn's breathtaking command of language, detail, and character brings Victorian London to life on every page, while the deep emotions that illuminate this fascinating novel about life-changing moments are as current as today's news.

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
Inspired by the story of her grandfather and his mother, who gave him up to London's Foundling Hospital, Jocelyn (Would You) intimately reimagines and fictionalizes their lives in alternating chapters and in different time periods. In 1876, 15-year-old Mary must leave home, not long after her mother dies, for a job as a scullery maid in London. A conniving co-worker, Eliza, encourages Mary to meet a young man in order to keep her away from an admiring butler; soon Mary finds herself in trouble after a passionate encounter that she herself deems unladylike, “but a lady were never what I got up in the morning to be.” Meanwhile, in 1884, six-year-old James must leave his beloved foster mother to return to the Foundling Hospital for an education. Told in third person (as are Eliza's chapters and those of an instructor at the Hospital), James's story is perhaps the most affecting, as he is alternately despondent and intrepid in seeking familial connections. The novel skillfully illustrates how the lives of those who resided “belowstairs” in Victorian England were at the mercy of those with means. Ages 14-up. (May)
Children's Literature - Jennifer Lehmann
Although its cover may fit with current offerings from young adult fantasy, this work of historical fiction dives into the world of the lower classes in the London of the late 1800s. Two alternating stories are told. Mary Finn is a country girl who has been serving as mother to her four younger siblings when her father remarries. James Nelligan is a six-year old foundling who has been raised by a foster family, but must now return to the Foundling Hospital for his education. These characters and the London of their time are richly developed. Mary falls in love with a soldier and finds herself in trouble and thrown out of her position. James works hard to adjust to his new life, reminiscent of the London painted by Dickens. Both are characters of strength and perseverance. Two additional voices add insight and details to the lives that unfold, although having four narrators is cumbersome in some places. The stories unite wonderfully, with a twist that is not obvious, but for which the groundwork has been carefully laid. Reviewer: Jennifer Lehmann
Kirkus Reviews
Alternating narratives weave a tale of fatalistic misfortune set in Victorian England with an unexpected note of hope striking the final chord. A girl cast out of her home by her stepmother finds a place as a kitchen servant, falls in love with a charming young soldier and is soon terrified to find herself pregnant. Meanwhile, a boy raised in a loving foster family reaches the age at which he must leave them and return to the foundling home of his birth. Careful readers will guess the connection between the two early on, but this will not lessen the impact of this poignant story, which lays bare the ravages of the era's poverty and social stratification while tempering the tone with mischievous humor. Nicely realized secondary characters, particularly a kindly teacher and a jealous maid, add dimension, and the author's note relating her own family history will further create empathy. A thoughtful, accessible and richly detailed read that moves along at a satisfying clip-this will appeal beyond just already-established fans of historical fiction. (Historical fiction. 14 & up)
From the Publisher
"It is difficult to overstate the brilliance of Would You...."
The Globe and Mail

"...[an] exquisitely honed novel...."
— Starred Review, Publishers Weekly

"The narrative's strength is in its candor.... A realistic and very credible account of how one family's life is inexplicably and unexpectedly shattered."
— Kirkus Review

School Library Journal
Gr 9 Up—Mary Finn is unmarried and pregnant. Her baby's father has disappeared and she's been dismissed from her domestic position. A kindhearted woman takes her in, but then dies after the baby is born, and Mary is homeless again. She realizes that her son's only hope for survival is to be raised in the Foundling Hospital. Six-year-old James has been happy in his foster home, but now he must return to the hospital, where he was placed by his mother as a baby, so he can receive his education. His third-person narrative, which takes place in 1884, alternates with Mary's first-person account, which is set between 1877 and 1878. This alternating point of view may be a bit confusing for teens at first, but the story will quickly pull them in. Jocelyn's characters are richly drawn and fully developed, and the setting of late-1800s London is vividly detailed. The climactic scenes between Mary and Eliza, another maid, are funny and sad at the same time. The novel has a melancholy feel to it, but readers will care very much for these characters as they experience first love and sex, physical pain, jealousy, homelessness, hunger, shame, desertion, and heart-wrenching decisions. Teens will find Folly historically enlightening as well as rewarding.—Wendy Scalfaro, G. Ray Bodley High School, Fulton, NY

Product Details

Random House Children's Books
Publication date:
Product dimensions:
5.80(w) x 8.40(h) x 1.00(d)
850L (what's this?)
Age Range:
14 Years

Read an Excerpt


By Marthe Jocelyn

Wendy Lamb Books

Copyright © 2010 Marthe Jocelyn
All right reserved.

ISBN: 9780385907316

MARY 1893  


I began exceeding ignorant, apart from what a girl can learn through family mayhem, a dead mother, a grim stepmother, and a sorrowful parting from home. But none of that is useful when it comes to being a servant, is it? And nothing to ready me either, for the other surprises a girl might stumble over. Let no one doubt that I've learned my lesson and plenty more besides.  

Imagine me back then, not knowing how silverware is to be laid out on a table, nor how to swill a stone floor or slice up the oddness of a pineapple; I did not know that tossing old tea leaves on the carpet works wonders toward collecting up the dust, nor how bluing keeps your white things white; I did not know how to write a letter and I had never had one come for me; I did not know what a man and a girl might do on a gravestone when they are crazy for each other; I did not know the heart were like a china teacup hanging in the cupboard from a single hook, that it could chip and crack and finally smash to the ground under a boot heel. And I did not know that even smithereens could reassemble into a heart. I did not know any of this.  

This leads to that, Mam used to say. The trick is knowing where this begins and which that it might be leading to.   The kiss may not have been the start of things, but it led straight on to the rest of it, me without the slightest idea--well, maybe the slightest--of where it could end up. But one thing is certain; I were as ready for that first kiss as a girl can be. My hair were clean, my neck were washed, and my heart were banging away like a baby's fist on a pile of dirt.    

That's jumping ahead of things, so I'll go back and tell what I do know--before and after the kiss, since we won't be hearing anything from Mr. Caden Tucker, will we?  

Caden Tucker--scoundrel, braggart, and heart's delight. He'll never be seen again, not ever, so don't you waste your time. The officers claimed they couldn't find him and neither could I, for all I looked till my bosom would split with holding the ache. He'd have nothing to tell you that I can't, that I promise. He were cocky, but he weren't one to rely on for a true story, as it turned out.  

I'll confess there were a part of me that shone bright in the sunshine cast by Caden Tucker as it never did elsewhere. A part of me that were me, the true Mary Finn, when I were walking out with him.        

MARY 1876  

Telling About Home in Pinchbeck, Lincolnshire    

Our dad had his vegetables, grown for market or trade, or else he planted others' gardens. Winter times, when the ground were sleeping, he'd cut firewood or dig privies or whatever were asked for. Mam were kept busy with us, and the house, but we all helped,as a family does, you know. Though I suppose you're not familiar with the workings of a family.  

We went each week to St. Bartholomew's, me taking the boys out to the graveyard when the sermon got them twitching.  

"How many now?" I'd ask, and they'd tear up and down the rows, tapping the tops of each stone, shouting out the numbers, not thinking about Sunday or stomping on bones under the grass. But then it were Mam who changed the count and the game weren't so merry anymore.  

Mam had four of us before birthing Nan, fifth and last. Mam died a week later, leaving me, just turned thirteen, to be mother as best I could. Until our dad went and found that Margaret Huckle a year after and put her in Mam's bed, thinking he were giving us a present somehow. Really it were like drowning nettles in the bottom of our tea mugs so every time we swallowed there were a sore patch, a blister, hurting deep inside in a way that couldn't be soothed.   That were the kind of talk that would have got me thrashed if anyone heard it, so it stayed quiet, right?  

It were me, then Thomas, Davy, Small John, and the baby. Tall John Finn being our dad, meaning the one named for him could only be small.  

Now, come Sundays, Dad said Thomas and Davy were big enough to stay plunked in the pew with him, so it'd be Small John and Nan in the churchyard with me. John were always coughing, not eager to run around. I devised other games for him. We picked out the letters on the stones, me knowing how to show him that much.  

"Here's an A," he'd shout. "I found a B!" And after a while he made sense of the words.  

"Crick!" he'd cry, or "M for Mason!" and I'd know he were right because Walter Crick were dead from pneumonia and Pauline Mason were the butcher's wife who died from a lump in her neck that stopped her swallowing.  

Mam's stone were small next to some of the others, about the size of the church Bible, dawn-gray granite with pink flecks, traded for a year of potatoes.    

Mary Ann Boothby Finn, it said. Wife of John A Mother on Earth An Angel in Heaven b. 1843 d. 1876    

Our dad, knowing Mam's favorites, planted bluebells and lily-of-the-valley. Come springtime they flourished so lush and pretty, even after that Margaret Huckle were thistling about at home, that I know he kept tending Mam's stone, though he never said.  

I didn't go there often, not wanting to look sappy, talking to ghosts. I were leery too, of telling Mam only our miseries, so I'd wait till I had other news.  

"Thomas lost another tooth," I'd say. "He looks a right fiend, pushing his tongue through the front, with his eyeballs crossed over. And Davy, he might be one of those Chinese monkeys that came with the fair, the way he jumps on chairs and swings abouton gates. . . ."  

Then I'd come to Small John and the worries would start. "He coughs, Mam, all night sometimes, though I make a warm garlic plaster like you showed me. I don't know if . . . well, I just don't."  

My hands would go numb with me praying so hard she'd answer. I'd take a two-minute scolding if it meant she'd be there for two minutes. But the swallows would swoop, and the sun would sink, and the evening would sound hollow as an old bucket. The weight of things were on me alone. Along with our dad, of course.

From the Hardcover edition.


Excerpted from Folly by Marthe Jocelyn Copyright © 2010 by Marthe Jocelyn. Excerpted by permission.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.

Meet the Author

Marthe Jocelyn is the author of several award-winning novels and has also written and illustrated picture books. Her novels for Wendy Lamb Books include How It Happened in Peach Hill and Would You. She lives in Stratford, Ontario, Canada. You can visit her on the Web at www.marthejocelyn.com.

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Folly 4.2 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 6 reviews.
bookittyblog More than 1 year ago
Folly was a different book. Not exactly my type of book but good anyways. This book was written from 4 different perspective and jumps back and fort between years. To me the author made every voice unique in the book and that way I knew who's perspective I was reading at the time. I grew fond of James quickly. We see him grow throughout the book and there is no way you can't help to care for him. Folly is sad and realistic because it describe how things were in the past.This book shows how the misinterpretations of events and actions of one person can change completely the faith of another and how little control we have of our own destiny. It also makes you think how different things were back in the 1800s and how now everything it's so easy to accomplish. I recommend Folly to people that like realistic books and are not easily intimidated by difficult vocabulary.
TeensReadToo More than 1 year ago
Mary Finn is only fourteen years old when she's forced out of her home in rural Lincolnshire at the behest of her new stepmother to act as a servant for the woman's sister at her roadside inn. Sixty-seven days later, Mary flees to London as nanny to Lucilla Allyn's infant son, only to discover the position is unavailable upon arrival. Despite her lack of domestic skills, Mary is able to secure employment as maid in the Allyn household and soon becomes ensconced in her new life. It's not long before she meets the dashing, young Caden Tucker - a British soldier who steals Mary's heart and leaves her in far more dire straights than she ever could have imagined. Inter cut with Mary's narrative is the story of six-year-old James Nelligan, to whom we're introduced on the day he must leave his foster home and return to the Foundling Hospital. Life as a foundling is brutal, and it will take all of James's resources just to survive, but thanks to his mischievous nature and innate cleverness, he manages to garner a few allies along the way. I'm reluctant to admit this, but I cried several times while reading FOLLY. Whether it was a scene depicting the grinding misery of Mary's early childhood, the gut-wrenching ache of families ripped apart, or the deplorable conditions and inherent coldness of the Foundling Hospital, Marthe Jocelyn draws an unflinching eye to the harsh realities faced by so many during the Victorian Era. That's not to say the book is without moments of joy; in fact, the closing sentiment is one of hope, which makes the book, in its entirety, all the more powerful.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Sensitivemuse More than 1 year ago
It took me a while to get into this story. It's a bit slow paced, but I thought Mary was such a great character in this novel, that she prevented the story from becoming dry and boring. The descriptions of Victorian London was well written and well done, especially done through the eyes of James, who has never before been to London, and seeing things through a child's eyes makes the descriptions clear and very easy to picture. Eliza, as a character was such a mean spiteful harpy you almost wanted to tell Mary to punch her in the face for what she's done to her. You really do sympathize with Mary, and as her situation does worsen later in the book you can't help but feel more sorry for her. I admire her strength and determination throughout her ordeal though, and her persistence does pay off (in one way or another). Especially in an age where women don't really have much rights, Mary does well on her own and it's nice to see this despite her ordeals. I'd have to say that once Caden arrived in the picture, it became a little predictable as to what was going to happen. Yet at the end, I was close to wondering what in the heck does James and Oliver have to do with Mary and Eliza, and then it clicked in during the last few chapters. It was then that I realized, this book wasn't so bad after all. It's not a really happy tale, but a more somber one. Yet the ending gives an inkling feeling of hope and although it's hopeful, it's also melancholy. That being said, this book may not be for everyone. Overall, I rather liked it. One of the few novels I've read about Victorian London that doesn't romanticize the period. It's serious, yet accurate plot makes it a good one to read. It's a short book, (less than 300 pages) so don't hesitate to pick this one up. Be patient with the slow start. It's really Mary point of view you're reading for.
Bookventures More than 1 year ago
Have you read Folly yet? If not then you have no idea that you are missing out on. This historical fiction by Marthe Jocelyn has all the elements of a great story; a strong cast of characters, great story line and plot that is not to obvious and the story is really well paced. But more importantly, it has a real message behind the story. By the time you get into this book, you would not want this story to end. Folly is about a young woman Mary, who leaves her comfort zone in the country side to work in London. The move is orchestrated by her 'evil step mother'. Her new position in the Allyn house brings not only a new opportunity for her but it also brings jealously, intrigue and love. For those of us who judge a book by its cover, the front cover of this book doesn't accurately prepare you for the story that you are about to read. It's the first paragraph in the book that grips you and sets up the tone for the remainder of the book. Jocelyn uses four point-of-views to help tell the story of Mary and James. These characters live in different time periods ie Mary (1878) and James (1888). I thought it was a great idea to not only get the perspective of the two main characters but to also get the perspective of other people who are closely related to the story. Without even knowing it, those four points-of-view is what ultimately builds the story. It is evident that Marthe's book belongs in the young adult genre. There are many issues in the story that would resonate well with that age bracket. Jocelyn is also really good at tapping into the emotions of teens and young adults no matter what period in time they live in. I guess you can call folly a great coming of age story as well since in the beginning, Mary's tone starts off as a teenager but ends as an adult. Somehow, Jocelyn's writing allows Mary to mature right in front of your eyes. You especially notice it in her tone coming to the end of the book. I think that adults will also appreciate this story since Mary grapples with very adult issues. You cannot help but feel for Mary in her situation. Speaking of the lead character, I really really liked her and I wished all women could be like her. Mary is funny, witting and so headstrong. She stands up for what she believes in even if that appears to be going against the established status quo in nineteenth century England. James on the other hand is so youthful, brave and extremely smart. It was a joy to get to know him. This is a light, funny story with real issues and Jocelyn is a great author who, even though she remains relatively unknown, should be on everyone's reading list.
KaydenceCA More than 1 year ago
Product Details * Pub. Date: May 11, 2010 * Publisher:Random House Children's Books * Format: Hardcover, 256pp * Sales Rank: 432,074 * Age Range: Young Adult * ISBN-13: 9780385738460 * ISBN: 0385738463 ?Folly by Marthe Jocelyn is a historical fiction journey through Victorian England told through the eyes of four separate characters. The first character that we meet is Mary. Mary's mother died and she was forced to take care of her younger siblings until her father remarried. The woman he remarried did not care for Mary and sent her away for an "opportunity." That opportunity actually landed her a position that took her to London where she was hoping to be a help to a baby, but ended up as a scullery maid. From that position she meets Bates, a scoundrel that works with her and seems to have an eye for the ladies, Eliza, who becomes Mary's tutor for domestic service, bunkmate, and ultimate enemy, and some young army men that change her life forever. Eliza is another character that the reader sees through the eyes of. Eliza is a bit more vindictive and only has her heart set on Bates. She is the catalyst for many problems that Mary faces even if she doesn't quite know it. The other two narrators are speaking from ten years ahead of Mary and Eliza's tale. The first is James. James is an orphan who is sent to the Foundling, a place where disadvantaged children are taught to be contributing members of society. He is a naughty little boy whose only goal is to be with his foster-mother again. The last narrator is Oliver. Oliver is a teacher at the Foundling. He sympathizes with the boys because he was once in their shoes. His role is a mentor to James. I have been on a historical fiction kick lately, so this book fit in with the rest of what I have been reading. I enjoyed seeing bits of history directly from the character's point of view. I think that altogether this story was more about the characters and their insights than anything else. My favorite narrator was Mary. She is such a passionate character that literally gets caught up in some good and bad luck. I believe that following her tale was very moving. The only thing that I did not particularly like about this novel was that I knew what was going to happen at the end long before it happened. I am pretty good at predicting stories, but I think that the ending was rather played out. It is something that has been done a lot and I'm certain even my students would know exactly what was going to happen. Also, there is a sex scene that is a little racy for a younger audience. 4/5 stars