Anita Shreve – "Fortune’s Rock"

9 Sep


GENRE: Historical fiction
PUBLISHED: Abacus Book; 2000 (different cover than the one used here)


The back blurb:
“It is the summer of 1899, and Olympia Biddeford and her parents have retired from the heat of Boston to the coastal resort of Fortune’s Rocks. When the celebrated essayist John Haskell is invited to stay, no one foresees the affair that is to follow. What begins as the briefest of silences becomes a relationship that is both passionate and destructive, six short weeks that will shape the rest of their lives …”


What a wonderful and beautifully written novel.

Fortune’s Rock is Olympia’s story. I didn’t see this novel as a love story more as a coming-of-age story. The love story alluded to on the back cover is the catalyst for the coming-of-age story and not the main concern. Olympia starts out as a young and privileged girl. Everything is possible for her and she’s self-centered. She doesn’t take into account how her behaviour might affect other people. This combination ends in catastrophe and influences or even changes a lot of lives. The rest of the novel shows how Olympia copes and recovers from this until she faces a situation that basically asks the same question which the situation at the start (the one which ended in a catastrophe) of the novel also asked: Is it right to do as I want without considering other people? I liked this coming-full-circle and, IMO, it fits my view that Fortune’s Rock is basically a coming-of-age story.

This also is visible in the way the other characters are portrayed in the novel. Compared to Olympia, their characterization suffers. The other characters seem to be hardly more than shadows, even her father and her lover. Again, it helped to keep the focus on Olympia and I didn’t mind.

Anita Shreve’s Fortune’s Rock is one of the rare novels which leave me afraid to pick up another novel after finishing because I was totally “wowed.”


Would I recommend this novel? Yes.

Would I read this novel again? Yes.

Grade: 5 / 5


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