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Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Fortune’s Rock – A Novel by Anita Shreve

With as sick as I’ve been feeling, I’m spending plenty of time with good books.  I just finished another book I picked up at the thrift store;  Fortune’s Rock by Anita Shreve.
Taking place in the 19th century, this beautifully written book rings true of its Victorian narrative.  At times, Shreve's writing is like dark chocolate, rich and smooth, making me wonder, “How long can Ms. Shreve keep up with such enthralling language?”  
But, she does throughout the entire book.  Perhaps, you’ve heard of Anita Shreve, her most popular book The Pilot’s Wife.  She never ceases to amaze with far-reaching story lines and come-to-life characters.

Fortune’s Rock follows Olympia, a young 16 year-old girl just on the cusp of womanhood.  While vacationing on the coastline in Maine with her well-to-do parents, Olympia meets John Haskell, a 41 year-old doctor and journalist.  Going against her strict upbringing, she allows her feelings for Haskell to grow.  She offers to go into the poor community city with him on his doctor rounds and sees things a woman of her upbringing should not.  She assists Haskell in a birth, where he saves a woman and her breech baby.   This experience has a profound affect on Olympia and her feelings for Haskell grow.  Their love affair erupts and all is lost, when Olympia discovers she’s pregnant.  She too, will have to birth a child into the world, but not before her father forbids Haskell to ever return to Fortune’s Rock.  Olympia’s newborn son is taken from her at birth, but at the age of 20, Olympia seeks to find her baby and her forbidden lover. 

The book took a surprising turn at the end, showing that no matter what the circumstances of our lives, something good can always come of tragedy.  Olympia takes her greatest heartache and uses it to help others.
I couldn’t put this book down and I hoped in the end love would find a way.  Love always does and that’s why I loved Fortune’s Rock.

Fortune’s Rock would make a great movie, with gorgeous costumes and breath-taking scenery.  Many of the scenes take place at the coastline of Maine, with vacationers dressed in full body swimsuits, holding white-laced umbrellas and girls in their petticoats.   Every scene is in such vivid detail, I can feel the cool breeze rolling over me.  When the Maine winter sets in and Olympia turns the kitchen into her bedroom just to keep warm by the oven, I didn’t begrudge the 115 degrees of the day.  I’d much rather have the heat then the extreme cold. 

Either way, I’m glad my heart didn’t fall into the hands of someone double my age, someone who my parent’s forbid I see, because when love gets as complicated as Olympia and John Haskell’s, it makes for a challenging time. 

So, does Olympia eventually find her baby?

I won’t tell, but let’s just say a mother’s love puts Olympia in a position where she has to pick what’s best for her and what’s best for her son, and a selfless decision does she make.  This choice opens up a world where she can love again and use her past to help those in need.

1 comment:

  1. I read that book a long time ago and loved it her sea glass is set in the same period.
    hope you feel better soon.