It's 1917 when we are introduced to Lilian Eliot, a Beacon Hill Bostonian and the book ends when she is in her 40's. Lillian met Walter Vail just as she was coming of age, fell in love, only to be left for someone else. Decades later Walter returns and she chooses to confront her feelings about what is more important - continuing to hold feelings for a man she really doesn't know or return to her comfortable but terribly routine life. Folly is written with elegant prose. Dialogue is not abundant in this book and yet the author does an excellent job of detailing the roles and conveying the hidden thoughts and feelings women of this era likely had.
An interesting and beautifully writen story of societal relations that spanned decades.
From Publishers Weekly
Minot earned high praise for her first novel, Monkeys . Here she again displays a brilliant gift for loading frugal prose with emotion and innuendo. Folly penetrates a staid upper-class scene in the WW I years, centering on pretty Lilian Eliot, well-behaved and square-chinned, "a regular girl from Boston." Schooled in the numbing restraints of caste and gender, Lilian discovers her own romantic ardors and falls in love with an unreliable charmer, New Yorker Walter Vail. From overseas service Walter writes one offhand letter about the war's havoc, and stays on to marry a Frenchwoman. Lilian accepts the muffled role society prescribes for her; she marries big, slow-moving Gilbert Finch, whose endearing nature turns out to mask grave defects. Soon a mother of three, Lilian sees her life as "airtight, all the seams sewn up," and endures the genteel descent down the years in a round of weddings, lunches, and shopping, a life sometimes illuminated by painful glimmers of self-knowledge as hope becomes a memory. Then one day Walter returns, unencumbered. The novel's cautionary characters who stray from the norm include Lilian's suicidal friend Irene, her parasitic brother Arthur--a writer--and her free-spirited old Aunt Tizzy, rouged and eccentric. Chapter headings--e.g., "Some shocking news," or "A guilt between them"--evoke the fictional style of the period; Minot's terse purity of voice achieves a canny, ironic distancing, yet manages seductively engages the reader in her heroine's quandary.