bookspacePhoto of readermy comments
 home > bookspace > my comments > comment: fortune's rocks : a novel /
Subscribe via RSS 
Fortune's rocks : a novel
Anita Shreve
Adult Fiction SHREVE

Comments  Summary  Excerpt  Reviews  Author Notes

From Publishers' Weekly:

In what surely will be a milestone in her career, Shreve has produced a literary novel with enormous commercial appeal. It's a scandalous love story told with dignity and integrity, and a finely etched portrait of American society at the turn of the last century, a narrative that accurately reflects vanished manners and mores, while reconfirming the universality of human emotions. Olympia Biddeford, the spirited, self-confident, highly intelligent daughter of a Boston Brahmin family who summer in Fortune's Rocks, on the New Hampshire coast, is 15 years old in June 1899, the season of her sexual awakening. Her father's friend, Dr. John Haskell, a talented essayist as well as a physician committed to helping the poor, is 26 years Olympia's senior, married and the father of four. Shreve's account of their love affair is a marvel of freshness. In what resembles an exquisitely controlled slow-motion film (one thinks of the sun-dappled sequences in Elvira Madigan), Shreve shimmeringly describes a young girl's first experience of ardent attraction, combined with her first experience of mortal sin. Both Olympia and Haskell are engaging characters who cannot resist the passion that eventually destroys several lives besides their own. The bliss of their affairÄrendered at fever pitch, but without false sentimentalityÄbuilds tension about the inevitability of their discovery. Although expected, the event comes with a staggering shock, one of many such surprises that Shreve injects in the narrativeÄimpressively so, since none of the plot twists evade credibility. Even when the baby born of the liaison is taken from Olympia, Shreve avoids excessive drama. Instead, she conveys interlocking ironies foreshadowed early in the relationship, when Olympia accompanies Haskell to a clinic in nearby Ely Falls, where she first becomes aware of the desperately poor Franco-American millworkers whose wretched lives will one day intersect with hers. The level of suspense never falters, but becomes breathtaking during a custody court battle (based on late 19th-century legal precedent) involving these factory laborers, who were once an important subculture in New England. The astounding denouement of cascading events will leave no reader unmoved. While Shreve's books always show evidence of meticulous research, her hand has never been so sure as it is here. The fabric of privileged upper-class life in the 1890s is rendered in such details as the relationships between masters and servants, the daily routine at the Biddefords' "cottage" in Fortune's Rocks and in precise descriptions of home furnishings, clothing and dining. The rigid decorum of the era is conveyed with the clarity of Edith Wharton, and reflected in the formal vocabulary and the rules governing civilized conversation, and the moral code that regarded unwed mothers as despicable outcasts denied even the most minimal consolations of the social contract. Given Shreve's popularity, and adding what will surely be fervent word-of-mouth endorsement, this book should take off like a rocket. Agent, Virginia Barber. $200,000 ad/promo; BOMC main selection; 15-city author tour. (Dec.) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved

From Library Journal:

Since Shreve's last book (The Pilot's Wife) was an Oprah pick, she's sure to have a winner with this one. But even without Oprah's help, this book is not to be missed. Fortune's Rocks takes Shreve back to her forteÄa literary novel set in a historical framework. It worked beautifully in The Weight of Water, and it does here as well. As the year 1899 moves toward 1900, Olympia Biddesford is a 15-year-old on the cusp of womanhood. Spending the summer with her family at Fortune's Rocks, a New Hampshire coastal community, she meets John Haskell, an esteemed friend of her father. Though John has a wife and four children, he and Olympia are instant soulmates. Their intense affair creates complete havoc in both of their lives. A few weeks of joy turn into years of pain and redemption, culminating in a tense, page-turning trial at the end of the book. Shreve's writing is just complex and meaty enough to portray the time period perfectly, and it's a beautifully told story. Order multiple copies, and put yourself on the holds list! This will fly off the shelves. [Previewed in Prepub Alert, LJ 9/15/99.]ÄBeth Gibbs, P.L. of Charlotte & Mecklenburg Cty., NC (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

Be the first to add a comment! Share your thoughts about this title. Would you recommend it? Why or why not?

Question about returns, requests or other account details?
 Add a Comment
Submission Guidelines

Find this title in the Library Catalog
Find this title in the Library Catalog

more titles about

main characters Olympia Biddeford
Age: 15
Upper class
Spirited; self-confident.

John Haskell
Age: 41

recent comments
hcl mobile app
Facebook Twitter Tumblr YouTube Vimeo Flickr Federal Depository Library Federal
Hennepin County Government Hennepin
© 2014  Hennepin County Library12601 Ridgedale Drive, Minnetonka, MN 55305 Comments and Feedback    |    RSS