53 of 58 people found the following review helpful
When Good People Do Bad Things,
By A Customer
This review is from: Fortune's Rocks: A Novel (Hardcover)
As I began Anita Shreve's Fortune's Rocks, only to find that the novel's premise was the development and consequences of a turn of the century affair between a 41-year old man and a 15-year old girl, I thought "here we go again", a chick book filled with despicable male characters. After finishing The Pilot's Wife, Shreve's previous work, in which the pilot is found to have lived a secret life in another country, complete with second wife and family, my reaction was that the depth of such evil and deceit, while plausible in the plot of a novel, was a little fantastic for most to consider. And now in Fortune's Rocks, we face another quite improbable scenario.
But I kept reading, almost helpless to stop. Anita Shreve is a fine storyteller and as a native of the New Hampshire coast, I am a sucker for novels set there. I think she does a fine job of getting it right. It was also easy to picture the fictitious textile mill town and its immigrant population just miles from the coast that plays a major role in the story.
It was more than the landscape of Fortune's Rocks, however, that kept me hooked. A novel centered on an inappropriate and tragic affair is populated with very likable, even normal characters (save one, almost comically obsequious dweeb). And when these likable people step off the edge with disastrous consequences, readers, at least this one, ponder their own edges walked each day...maybe a secret friendship hidden from a spouse, or power exerted over an employee or family member that goes a little beyond appropriate, or a deceitful business relationship, or...? What is it that keeps most of us on the safe side of the edge? And how safe is that safe side?
In Fortune's Rocks, Anita Shreve moves freely into this reader's discomfort zone, yet this move seems somehow non-intrusive. There seems to be a way out. Her characters seem to do all the right things after the catastrophic event. And should any of us fall off that edge, it may be too much to expect that almost everything turn out so right at the end. For life is not a novel.
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Initial post: Oct 25, 2008 3:51:33 PM PDT
Can we please stop referring to women as chicks - or any other type of sub-human animal? Can we also stop refering to books and movies about relationships between men and women as chick books and chick flicks or even women's books and women's movies as they are also about men and their relationships?!
Posted on Apr 23, 2009 5:37:33 AM PDT
J. A Bowen says:
I appreciated reading this thoughtful review. It went a step beyond the usual re-telling of the tale or gushing rave that I usually find on Amazon reader reviews. I especially liked the writer's musings on the line we all walk every day...what keeps us from going over the edge? I saw Haskell as a man drowning in lust, trying to save himself, and being pushed over the edge by a young girl just experiencing her own budding sexuality. Some readers compared this book to "Emmeline" by Judith Rossner. But I saw Emmeline as a true innocent being exploited by a lonely older man, whereas Olympia is a sensual, headstrong young girl eager to experience all that life has to offer.
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