Rae Newborn has struggled with depression for decades. The death a year ago of her second husband and their young daughter drove her to attempt suicide. Now she’s moved to Folly, a small island in the San Juans that she inherited from Desmond Newborn, her grandfather’s brother.
Desmond went off to the First World War and came back broken by shell shock. He bought Folly in the 1920s and built a house with his own hands, then disappeared after the house burned down.
All alone on Folly, Rae starts rebuilding the house and finds herself retracing the events of Desmond’s life. The parallels become stronger when she finds his skeleton in a cave and reads his journal.
As we learn her story, we find that she has reason to be fearful. It’s not just in her head; there really is someone out to hurt her. The construction is therapeutic: as she rebuilds the house, she begins to rebuild her life. She starts to repair the relationship with her long-estranged elder daughter and draws closer to her beloved granddaughter.
The ending was a little too neat and pat for my liking, but otherwise I greatly enjoyed this book.