Hey y’all, another AAD author amongst us! As you see it’s Tilly Greene! I’ve also got no closing because she covers it – so read on!
A Passionate Folly
The word folly means a lack of good sense, foolish, and an architectural folly is a “costly, generally nonfunctional building that was erected to enhance a natural landscape.”1 In the late 16th/early 17th century, the latter were structures added to English gardens as a means to bring a decorative element. In the 18th century the buildings more often than not contained elements of other cultures.
The whimsicality surrounding the elaborate garden ornamentation was dramatically enhanced by how accurately they copy architecture from around the world. Today, if you walked through a large park, drove by a grand estate or even rode a bike down a road to nowhere, in Great Britain you could find yourself passing by a Greek temple or Chinese pagoda.
They were so well constructed, many remain standing. There were architects and master builders attached to the projects. One of the more interesting elements to follies is that they appeared then and today to be useful, even habitable, but they weren’t and remain empty shells.
I love follies!
Fountains Abbey and Studley Royal Water Garden in Ripon, England. There are follies dotted around the extensive grounds right alongside ruins and a multitude inhabitable and useable buildings. The structure in the picture is the very well preserved Temple of Piety. It can be seen from a distance and always tempts me for further inspections. When up close, the windows are easy to peak through and sometimes the door is left open. I can’t help but think about all the years this building stood and what might have taken place within its walls.
Now, to those of you who don’t know me personally, I should take a moment to tell you that my brain tends to see the romantic potential in the oddest ways and then plot bunnies are bred. With that confession shared, it shouldn’t surprise anyone to know with my previously stated affection for follies, I’ve managed to put them into stories. The hero of Highland Heat, Hamish Buchanan, owns an estate with extensive grounds in the Highlands that actually has three follies on it. Grace Strachan, the heroine who is a successful milliner, grew up and lives in the city, and this is how she views her man’s extensive property:
Maybe she should change things around for womankind and have one built for her man. Laughing out loud and not caring if anyone heard her, she continued trying to find her way around the main house. With all the wings and floors, the place was a true maze.
©Highland Heat, Tilly Greene, December 2008
While I may have been introduced to the joy of follies in the United Kingdom, it’s interesting to know they can be found in a variety of countries. Ireland, France and Russia are a few other countries that have produced these types of structures since the eighteenth century. I believe the historical aspect plays a part in how I view them and my interest grows in how they reflect the times and culture in which they were built. Culture along with the erotic aspects of the story helped shape how I first used follies in a story.
Pleased with where her musing had led her, she looked up to the hill and its green roofed pavilion and wanted to investigate it further. With her heart lightened, she giggled and jogged the last few yards. How could she have guessed she’d be walking naked around a private piece of paradise, when just yesterday she’d been terrified for her life?
As she stepped between the red pillars, she froze. The ceiling had been painted with clouds and cleansing rain, the Yin and Yang symbols used to represent the joining of man and woman. A thick swath of blue fabric hung from a hook. Her gaze went to the surrounding panels, each of the dozen or so paintings depicted a different ancient Chinese erotic vignette.
Her jaw dropped, this was not a place to rest or escape the sun. This was a place created for only one purpose…to enjoy sex.
“So, what do you think?”
Turning around, she found Yi standing behind her, naked and grinning. He’d followed her, had been right behind her, even though she hadn’t heard a thing.
“Not what you’d expected?”
“No, it isn’t.” It was difficult, but she looked away from the intense heat riding his dark eyes to finish taking in all the folly’s details. She noticed a ledge placed between some pillars and what appeared to be drawers beneath it. Stepping closer, she opened the first one and was shocked at what she saw inside. Glancing over her shoulder Jia looked at the grinning, nude hunk. She lifted an eyebrow in question and waited for him to answer.
“I told you this pavilion was built for you—your pleasure. The drawers are full of toys to give you delightful satisfaction.”
“You are naughty.”
“It’s because you bring out the best in me.”
©An Invitation to the World: China, Tilly Greene, July 2007
When the structures were built, they weren’t intended to be anything other than frivolous decoration, and they certainly entertained me. There are so many different types of follies and ways they could be used and would surely be fun to have a historically accurate structure hanging about for use. So share your dreams for a bit of folly fun. What would you design and build? A classical Greek inspired temple for the dog, a colonial with a little porch under a tree as your special reading room, maybe brightly colored Russian domes to hide your trash and recycle cans, or what about a medieval tower attached to a garage for the kids to play in?
Okay, time to spill, what type of follie would you put up and how would you use it?
Thank you, Limecello, for giving me space to share my love for follies – I enjoyed sharing and hopefully hooked a few more converts. I’ll be at Authors After Dark readers conference in New Orleans this August, so if you see me on a panel, walking the halls or signing books, stop me and say hi!
1. Encyclopædia Britannica. Encyclopædia Britannica Online. Encyclopædia Britannica Inc., 2012. Web. 16 Mar. 2012.