Tuesday, October 4, 2016

BOOK REVIEW + GUEST POST: "Folly Cove" by Holly Robinson

The ties of family bind us forever—no matter how far we may go to escape them... 
The Bradford sisters are famous in Rockport, Massachusetts: for their beauty, their singing voices, their legendary ancestors, and their elegant mother, Sarah, who has run the historic Folly Cove Inn alone ever since her husband disappeared. 
The two youngest sisters, Anne and Elly, fled Folly Cove as soon as they could to pursue their dreams and escape the Bradford name, while Laura stayed and created a seemingly picture perfect life. After a series of bad decisions, Anne has no choice but to come home and face her critical mother and oldest sister, reluctantly followed by Elly, another Bradford woman who’s hiding something. 
As the three sisters plan a grand celebration for their mother’s birthday, they struggle to maintain the illusions about their lives that they’ve so carefully crafted. But when painful old wounds reopen and startling family secrets are revealed, they soon discover that even the seemingly unbreakable bonds of sisterhood can be tested... 

I received an ARC  from the publicist in exchange for an honest review.

I've read one of Ms. Robinson's books before (also very family-based), and was ecstatic when I was approached to be an advance reviewer of this book. From the first page I was completely enveloped in this story. It's multi-dimensional, multi-generational, and truly brilliant. Each character is so unique, so well-rounded, so full of surprises. I really loved Elly because I could relate to her, especially her broken heart and running away from not making it in her dream job. But Anne is a wonderful character, too, and it was her POV I loved reading the most.
I admit I felt so sorry for Laura and her issues with her husband, but hers was something I could not relate to, but I am sure others will. One thing I want to mention is WHY Laura has issues with her husband. I despised him with a passion for the first half of the book until I found out his truth, his story. It's something a LOT of readers will be shocked over, but it was something I wanted to reach out and hug Ms. Robinson for writing. It was unexpected, it was modern, and it was perfect. Thank you, Ms. Robinson, for giving us a character development like this. What he did is something many people like him struggle to do every single day.
Sarah...ah, Sarah. I didn't like her, even by the end of the book. But that's okay, because I LOVE reading a book where I dislike characters but the story is still so great I just kept reading it anyway. She has great depth of character, and while I disliked her, her story was the most interesting by far.
This is the right way to do women's fiction: it's different, it's emotional, it's honest, it's raw. It drew me in and these characters will stay with me forever.

5/5--just brilliant!

Folly Cove will be available October 4th everywhere books are sold.


GUEST POST from Holly Robinson:

The Challenges of Describing the Equestrian World to Non-Riders
Holly Robinson
As a child, my biggest passion was horse books. If there was a horse on the cover of a book, you can bet that book was on my shelf, from Black Beauty to The Black Stallion, from My Friend Flicka to Misty of Chincoteague. The next best thing were books that weren't specifically about horses, but featured characters who rode them, like those in the Trixie Belden “girl detective” series.
Naturally, reading about horses led me to want one. I lived a rich fantasy life filled with mounts of every description, even pretending my pink bicycle was a horse, and paced the hallways of our house as if I were leading a headstrong Mustang.
Eventually, my parents caved and bought me a real horse when I was eleven. I named my chubby gray mare “Ladybug” because of the red freckles on her coat. She threw me off twenty times the first month I had her, but I was so besotted with Ladybug that I wore a picture of her in a locket around my neck. (You can imagine how popular I must have been in junior high.)
I rode hunt seat and showed Ladybug and other horses through the years. My mother, who had grown up with horses, ran a stable when my dad retired. I was her helper and assistant instructor.
Eventually, I went to college and became a writer, freelancing for newspapers and magazines as I forged a career as a novelist. It dawned on me only as I started writing my newest book, Folly Cove, that I could finally write a novel of my own with a horse on the cover. I didn't want to write a novel about horses, because I write what one reviewer called “emotional family mysteries.” But I did want to convey to non-riders what it's really like to love horses and live in the equestrian world.
The first step was easy: I created a main character, Laura, who owns a stable where she boards other people's horses for money and gives riding lessons. But, as I started writing about Laura's life, I ran into trouble. She's a better rider than I was; Laura was on the show circuit until she got pregnant in college. But non-riders probably weren't going to want to read about horse shows or wade through any hardcore horse jargon. (Rule #1 of writing: “Don't bore people.”)
No, I needed to convey to non-riders the deeper reasons why people love horses enough to pour countless hours of time and buckets of money into this particular passion. I started mulling over my own adolescence and realized that horses saved my life. When I was hurting after my sister's death and my parents' divorce, horses offered unconditional love and an escape. I could canter around a ring and take jumps and feel powerful. Better yet, I could fling myself onto a horse and gallop along the trails with the exhilarating feel of a magnificent animal carrying me far, far away.
So I created my character, Laura, as a woman on the edge. Her daughter may have an eating disorder, her family's money problems are huge, and Laura thinks her youngest sister slept with her husband. I wanted my readers—even those who have never been near a horse—to relate to Laura's conflicts, and to understand how being in the riding stable gives her a sanctuary as she does daily barn chores like mucking out stalls.
Then I realized most readers would probably empathize even more with Laura's obsession with horses if they went on a ride with her. I gave Laura a gelding named Star and had her take him out on the trails:
When Star relaxed, she used her calves to urge him into a trot. Finally they reached the straightaway and she signaled him to canter. Laura leaned low against the horse’s neck as the animal flattened into a smooth gallop. The wind made her eyes tear as the landscape blurred by in yellows and reds and golds. The speed let her empty her mind. There was nothing but this moment, this animal beneath her, the landscape whipping by, the sharp sting of salty air on her face. She was blissfully free.
Isn't that what we're all looking for, in the end? Some way to engage so completely in the moment, that we feel “blissfully free?”
That's what horses have always done for me. I hope they'll do the same for readers of Folly Cove.

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