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4.3 out of 5 stars
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4.3 out of 5 stars
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on 17 April 2017
brilliant, first class service
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This is a well-crafted and lyrically written narrative, evocative of an era gone by. It tells the story of Olympia Biddleford, the unusually erudite and well educated fifteen year old daughter of a Boston Brahmin. One hot and steamy summer in turn of the century New Hampshire, she falls passionately and utterly in love with her father's friend, forty one year old John Haskell, a physician and man of letters, who has a wife and four children. Captivated by his intelligence and crusade on behalf of exploited mill workers, she and he, drawn to her youth, intelligence and beauty, leave all thought of propriety behind. Breaking every moral and social taboo of the time, they enter into a forbidden, illicit love affair, which is ultimately doomed, with cataclysmic ramifications for all whom the affair touches.
The book explores how this young woman copes with the loss of her life in a larger social milieu, once the affair enters into the public domain, through the machinations of another. She and the doctor, as well as their respective families, are tainted with scandal and presented with the fruit of that illicit love. The book explores how Olympia must reconstruct the tatters of her life into one in which she is finally able to expiate her youthful indiscretion within the context of the mores of the time. In doing so, she goes on a voyage of
self-discovery. Yet, through it all, she never once renounces her devotion to the man who introduced her to the throes of a passion so deep and profound that she gave herself over to it, body and soul. How these star-crossed lovers finally come to terms with their grand passion is a story that the author seamlessly weaves into a book that will hold the reader in its thrall.
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on 6 June 2005
I found the book "Fortunes Rock" completely absorbing... once I started reading it I couldn't put it down. I read it all through math, social studies, English and Spanish! Olympia's and Haskell's love for each other is captivating. It's the kind of love everyone longs for. Though society and age threatens to keep them apart they will do anything for the love they have... all this mixed in with a girls coming of age and a mothers fight for her son....its a must read! I am now working my way through all of Anita Shreve's books.
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on 15 December 2005
This was the first Anita Shreve book that I read and have since read all the others and bought Fortune's Rocks for all of my friends. It's fantastic in every way - from the wonderfully descriptive style of her writing to the great characters and content, the book contains real passion and I thoroughly enjoyed reading it - as did all my friends. Took me a little while to get into it, but was really glad that I did as I got completely absorbed and was sad to finish it!
0Comment| 6 people found this helpful. Was this review helpful to you?YesNoReport abuse
This is a well crafted and lyrically written narrative, evocative of an era gone by. It tells the story of Olympia Biddleford, the unusually erudite and well educated fifteen year old daughter of a Boston Brahmin. One hot and steamy summer in turn of the century New Hampshire, she falls passionately and utterly in love with her father's friend, forty one year old John Haskell, a physician and man of letters, who has a wife and four children. Captivated by his intelligence and crusade on behalf of exploited mill workers, she and he, drawn to her youth, intelligence and beauty, leave all thought of propriety behind and, breaking every moral and social taboo of the time, enter into a forbidden, illicit love affair, that is ultimately doomed, with cataclysmic ramifications for all whom the affair touches.
The book explores how this young woman copes with the loss of her life in a larger social milieu, once the affair enters into the public domain through the machinations of another. She, the doctor, and their respective families are tainted with scandal and presented with the fruit of that illicit love. The book explores how Olympia must reconstruct the tatters of her life into one in which she is finally able to expiate her youthful indiscretion within the context of the mores of the time. In doing so, she goes on a voyage of self discovery. Yet, through it all, she never once renounces her devotion to the man who introduced her to the throes of a passion so deep and profound that she gave herself over to it, body and soul. How these star crossed lovers finally come to terms with their grand passion is a story which the author seamlessly weaves into a book that will hold the reader in its thrall.
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on 23 January 2002
I have to say, I just loved this. I never read anything by Shreve before, but after finishing Fortune's Rocks, I went out and bought another few titles by her.
On saying that, one of the main reasons I loved Fortune's Rocks was its splendid turn-of-the-century setting, so it remains to be seen if her more contemporary novels prove as alluring.
There's no point dressing it up as high literature FR is a very well-written bodice ripper, and the best form of escapism. The constraints of the social mores of that time, only serve to heighten the tension and passion that Olympia and Haskell share.
Admittedly, the novel changes tack about halfway through, and moves on to the aftermath and consequences of their forbidden affair, and I was unsure if I'd find the rest of the novel as compelling. But I did. Olympia's exile is a compulsive and heartbreaking tale, but there is redemption and a (too-convenient, i wonder?) happy ending.
Overall, this is one of the most enjoyable novels I've read in recent years.
I withold the fifth star, because I thought that, as a literary hero, Haskell was somewhat wet!
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TOP 1000 REVIEWERon 25 February 2007
I think I'm one of the ones in the minority here. I had a difficult time getting into the book at first -- perhaps if Olympia had been a couple of years older at least. A 40+ year old man and a 15 year old girl. Ew. That said, I just didn't see any real chemistry between the two, outside of the sexual attraction for this life long supposed great love.

I almost gave up when they started writing those long letters to each other, then it picked up around page 200 into her exile and attempt to regain her son.

The writing style was a little different than most I've seen, an unusual tense to take, but the prose was pleasant and lyrical. Nothing that had me so taken with the book that I lost sleep over, but I didn't end up throwing it against the wall either.
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on 7 June 2004
This was my first Anita Shreve book and I am so so glad that I've discovered her writing (and thus have lots more of her books to read now!). I devoured the book in a weekend. The descriptive prose is amazing - the house by the sea, the descriptions of people on the beach, the way Olympia feels emotionally - all of it takes you in and makes you want to be there. The story is also one which captivates you, urging you on to find out what happens next. Loved it.
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on 11 September 2003
I've read several of Anita shreve's novels and I've enjoyed them all, Fortune's Rocks being no exception. This particular novel is set around 1900 and tells of the illicit affair between 15 year old Olympia Biddeford and John Haskell, a man almost 3 times her age. However, John Haskell is a married man with 2 children. Olympia first meets him at a dinner party given by her father, where they are instantly attracted to each other and fall in love. Finding it increasingly difficult to keep away from each other, the couple are driven to taking greater risks, which ultimately leads to devastating consequences. The author writes in such a way that, even when events take a turn for the worse, the reader is soothed by her style of writing which de-stresses the situation without losing any of the book's suspense or interest. Once I had begun this book, I found it almost impossible to put down.
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HALL OF FAMEon 26 May 2002
I'd never read anything by Anita Shreve before and I was a bit doubtful as to whether I'd actually enjoy Fortune's Rocks when I was about 50 pages into the book and it seemed to be going off in several different directions. But I'm happy that I stuck with it as it turned out to be a thoroughly enjoyable story that I found hard to put down. There are moral dilemmas aplenty and I was glad to see that Ms Shreve doesn't try to lecture us in any way, she allows us to read the story and judge for ourselves what we think of Olympia and Dr Haskell. The characterisation was incredible, as were the descriptions of the various places, enough to get the mind painting pictures but not so much as to make it tedious. My only complaint would be that there isn't really need for the happy ending. It would have been fun to fantasise about what happened next, but it was nevertheless great to see that things turned out the way I hoped they would.
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