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The Rocks: A Novel Paperback – May 31, 2016
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“If you can’t summer in sunbaked Mallorca, console yourself with this irresistible tale that moves back in time through 50-odd years and three generations of gorgeous, gifted expatriates and bohemians. . . You’ll feel transported.” —People
“The Rocks seems on the face of things to be an irresistibly sunny beach book. Most of it is set in the brightly lit Mediterranean, amid old olive groves and sexual intrigue, music and wine and beautiful women. But this sparkling surface glides and washes over. . . a tragic double romance, told in reverse. . . Nichols has a firm grasp of the chronology and a clear sense of control over the novel's trajectory and purpose: to illuminate the wreckage of romantic love and the end of a marriage, and, finally, to reveal the mystery at the heart of its death. . . Propulsive.” —The New York Times Book Review
“[What] smart, sexy summer lit is invariably made of. . . The Rocks has all the requisite romance and intrigue of good melodrama— and its settings are so postcard-gorgeous you can almost taste the sea spray and cold horchata— but there’s real wit and substance in his storytelling. Think of it as a beach read you’ll respect in the morning.” —Entertainment Weekly
“This page-turner will transport readers to the sunny community of expats at a glamorous seaside resort, where mystery, love, and family legacy are all fiercely intertwined.” —Harper's Bazaar
“Mr. Nichols takes the reader on a 400-page odyssey that includes a crooked real-estate deal, a hair-raising drug run in Morocco and enough sexual encounters to keep the summer beach reader breathlessly turning the page. Throughout it all, Mr. Nichols’s writing is witty and erudite.” —The Wall Street Journal
“A Mediterranean escape in the form of a novel, [prepare to] get swept away.” —Cosmopolitan
“[The Rocks is a book] to pack no matter where you’re going.” —Marie Claire
“[The Rocks is] constructed to keep the reader guessing. . . So we keep turning the pages not to discover what will happen, but to find out what has already occurred. Along the way, there are sumptuous lunches served on yachts, exotic couples met while traveling in Morocco, older women seducing much younger men. . . In other words, this is the perfect book for pretending it’s already beach season.” —O, The Oprah Magazine
“A sexy saga set in the Mediterranean.” —Good Housekeeping
“We hear the rueful hum of real life, full of possibilities seized but mostly missed. And we grow wealthier by the page.” —USA Today
“Not all beach reads bring to mind the serene atmosphere of a languid resort town. . . But Nichols's novel, set in Mallorca, a sleepy Mediterranean spot, is a perfect escape.” —Huffington Post
“If you won’t be vacationing on the Mediterranean, here’s the next best thing: a sweeping, romantic novel set on the sunny island of Mallorca.” —Newsday
“Glamorous. . . A riveting mystery and a decades-long love story.” —Travel & Leisure
“[With its] cinematic setting, lovably flawed characters and dry wit, [The Rocks is] a literary love story and captivating family saga.” —Bustle
“Peter Nichols's The Rocks is a novel with two love stories that move backward in time, both set in the beautiful Mediterranean and built around a seaside resort and its endearing expatriate community.” —PopSugar
“Pack this one for your beach bag.” –PureWow
“It’s the perfect beach read, with romance, mystery, humor, and drama all set on a tiny island in the Mediterranean Sea.” –The Boston Globe
“Wonderfully atmospheric.” –San Francisco Chronicle
“[The Rocks] is precisely the sort of novel you think of as a summer read. A Mediterranean island the gorgeous and glamorous Mallorca, graces the cover– after one glance, you’ll start planning your next vacation. The image promises heat and romance and sex, as well as intrigue, and The Rocks delivers.” –The Miami Herald
“A marvelous journey. . . Readers can bask vicariously in the gorgeous setting and the descriptions of delicious food.” –The Christian Science Monitor
“The Rocks by Peter Nichols is set in a glamorous resort on the Spanish island and makes full use of the lush Mediterranean landscape.” –Tampa Bay Times
“Ambitious in its structure, with its vivid island setting and a cast of eclectic and compelling characters, The Rocks is a novel that examines the fallout and lasting echoes, across generations even, of a single, consequential moment.” —Paste
“Perfect beach read. . . Bonus points for most vacation-aspirational cover.” —Health
“Vacation-worthy.” – The Columbus Dispatch
“Everything you’d hope for in a great beach read… The Rocks feels a bit like the literary equivalent of a good Netflix binge; a guilty pleasure well-crafted enough that you don’t actually have to feel guilty about it.” —BookPage
“Nichols deftly melds comedy and compassion, and his rendering of his Mediterranean setting will have readers packing their bags.” —Booklist (starred review)
“As intoxicating as a long afternoon sitting at the bar at The Rocks. . . All of it is absolutely riveting, leaving the reader desperate to depart immediately for swoony Mallorca. . . Nichols' expertise on everything from the Odyssey to olive oil to classic movies enriches the story, as does his profound understanding of his screwed-up cast of characters. . . A literary island vacation with a worldly, wonderfully salacious storyteller.” —Kirkus (starred review)
“Nichols has conjured the perfect beach read. . . The two central stories engage the readers’ sympathies and emotions, while Nichols colors in the background with the indelible imagery of the wind-swept Mediterranean.” —Publishers Weekly (starred review)
"A beautifully crafted love story set against an idyllic backdrop of ocean breezes and lemon groves. Nichols expertly weaves a tale that stretches across decades and generations, giving us a unique and unforgettable cast of characters." —J. Courtney Sullivan, author of Maine
“A wondrous novel. The Rocks is clearly the odyssey Peter Nichols was born to undertake.” —Richard Russo
“A Mediterranean idyll, a family saga, a mystery. A love story that’s as weird as real life, as rich and surprising and tender and affecting. The Rocks is all these things. Like Beautiful Ruins, it reminds me of all the reasons I read novels.” —Jennifer Haigh, Pen/Hemmingway Award-winning author of Faith
From the Hardcover edition.
About the Author
Peter Nichols has worked in advertising and as a screenwriter, and a shepherd in Wales, and he has sailed alone across the Atlantic. He divides his time between Europe and the United States.
Top customer reviews
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The Rocks begins with a confrontation. Lulu and Gerald were married for a very brief time in 1948. And although both have lived on the island of Mallorca for years, Lulu in particular goes out of her way to avoid Gerald at every turn. Yet when the two run into each other nearly 60 years later, the anger, hurt, and resentment is still tremendously intense, leading to a tragedy.
What happened on Lulu and Gerald's honeymoon all of those years ago that could still generate so much hurt and animosity? How has what transpired shaped their lives and their other relationships, yet allowed them to (reasonably) peacefully coexist on the same island?
The Rocks is a story told in reverse. It starts in 2005 with the confrontation, and travels back, a decade or so at a time, until that fateful day in 1948. With each section you see how Lulu and Gerald's lives progressed, their happy moments and their tragedies, and how their lives intersected again with the Romeo and Juliet-like relationship of their children, Lulu's son Luc, and Gerald's son Aegina, which, too, ends abruptly. Their stories are full of adventure, hope, anger, loneliness, and a love of Mallorca and those they care about.
I'll admit that what first attracted me to this book was that the cover reminded of Jess Walter's Beautiful Ruins, which I loved unabashedly (despite a very different setting than Mallorca). I enjoyed this book and in many ways liked its narrative structure, although it got to the point toward the end of the book where I just wanted to know what happened back in 1948. Peter Nichols is a talented writer, and I could just visualize Mallorca's beauty so many times throughout the book, and he also infused his story with a lot of emotion.
I thought the book moved really slowly at times, and yet at times I wanted more explanation of what happened with the characters at a particular juncture of the story. And while I found the characters fascinating, Lulu's behavior throughout the book really irked me, until I realized why she was the way she was.
I would recommend you read this book while you're on vacation somewhere sunny and beautiful, because this is a book that deserves a sun-drenched setting. It's well written and compelling, and I think it would make a really interesting movie.
The book tells the story of a small group of people on the island of Mallorica, off the coast of Spain. The novel opens with a tragic scene, and then works backwards by various time frames (about a decade each) to flesh out the story. I characterize the writing style as "dense", because the author uses complicated wording, and has a lot of (interesting) details about the geography and culture of the area. It was not a fast read; it was a rich read, the sort of novel to be savored. That doesn't mean the book was hard to read - just slow to read. I still didn't want to put the book down - the plot simply draws the reader on and on.
The characters are exceptionally well developed, and the plot is well done. It takes a bit of skill to move backwards along a story line as this one does, without getting boring. But this volume delivers exceptionally well. I found myself involved with the two main characters so much that it practically hurt. That is very good writing! Part way through the book I was frustrated at the relationships, but in the end the author at least provided some hope for the future.
This book has a very European view about sex, and there are some graphic portions of the book. All in context, and all of it supporting the story, but nevertheless I would not recommend it for less than High School age.
Summary: A rich reading experience; if you like a love story and Spanish culture, or just a good book, this is a great choice. Highly recommended.