Anita Shreve is the author of six previous novels, all published by Little, Brown/Abacus.
The time is the turn of the last century, the setting a rocky New Hampshire coastline resort area nicknamed "Fortune's Rocks." Olympia Biddeford, age 15, is walking the beach, feeling the first stirrings of her womanhood. The strong-willed daughter of an upstanding Boston couple, she soon "learns of desire" as she begins a passionate affair with a married writer, John Haskell, three times her age. From the moment they meet (he is a visiting friend of her father's), they experience a sexual sparkÄOlympia feels "liquid" in his presence. Soon, they fall into sinful trysting. Shreve (The Pilot's Wife) serves up these opening events with breathless immediacy. Once the plot gets a chance to developÄOlympia gets pregnant, gives up child, fights to get child backÄit settles down considerably, turning into a modernized The Scarlet Letter, a tale of a woman attaining feminist independence by living outside her period's societal mores. Reading, Brown (of TV's The Days and Nights of Molly Dodd) clearly has the most fun at the beginning, where the story's real heat and flushed excitement pours out. Listeners, too, may grow colder as the plot loses its torrid, forbidden edge. Based on the 1999 Little, Brown hardcover. (Dec.) Copyright 2000 Cahners Business Information.
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 Copyright 1999 Cahners Business Information.