Excerpt from Fortune's Rocks by Anita Shreve, plus links to reviews, author biography & more

Summary |  Excerpt |  Reading Guide |  Reviews |  Readalikes |  Genres & Themes |  Author Bio

Fortune's Rocks

A Novel

by Anita Shreve

Fortune's Rocks
  • Critics' Opinion:

    Readers' Opinion:

  • First Published:
    Dec 1999, 435 pages
    Paperback:
    Jan 2001, 464 pages

  • Rate this book


Buy This Book

About this Book

Print Excerpt


Outside the house and below the porches are massive tangles of hydrangea bushes. A front lawn spills down to the seawall, which is little more than a rocky barricade against the ocean and which is covered at this time of year with masses of beach roses. Thus, the view from the porch is one of emerald leaves with blots of pink against a blue so sparkling it is not so much a color as the experience of light. To the west of the lawn are orchards of Sheep's Nose and Black Gilliflower apples, and to the north is the beach which stretches two miles along the coast. Fortune's Rocks is the name not only for the horseshoe of land that cradles this beach, but also for the gathering of summer houses, of which the Biddefords' is but one, on its dunes and rocks.

"Olympia, I called to you," her father says when she, with her wet hem, climbs up to the rock on which he is standing. She expects him to be cross with her. In her impatience to feel the sea on her feet, she inadvertently went to the beach during the men's bathing hours, an activity that might be acceptable in a girl, but is not in a young woman. Olympia explains as best she can that she is sorry; she simply forgot about the men's bathing hours, and she was not able to hear him call to her because of the wind. But as she draws nearer to her father and looks up at his face and observes the manner in which he glances quickly away from her—this is not like him—she realizes that he must have witnessed her bare-legged walk from the seawall to the ocean's edge. His eyes are watering some in the wind, and he seems momentarily puzzled, even bewildered, by her physical presence.

"Josiah has prepared a tray of bread and pastes," her father says, turning back to her and regaining the slight loss of his composure. "He has taken it to your mother's room so that you both might have something to eat after the long journey." He blinks once and bends to his watch. "My God, Olympia, what a shambles," he adds.

He means, of course, the house.

"Josiah seems to be handling the crisis well enough," she offers.

"Everything should have been prepared for our arrival. We should have had the cook by now."

Her father wears his frock coat still. His boots are heavy and black and covered with dust, and she thinks he must be extraordinarily hot and uncomfortable. Clearly, he dressed that day with some indecision—trailing Boston behind him even as he was anticipating the sea.

In the bright sunlight, Olympia can see her father's face more clearly than she has all winter. It is a strong face, one that suggests character, a face he inherited from his father before him and then later, through his own behavior, has come to deserve. His most striking feature is the navy of his eyes, a blue so vivid that his eyes alone, even with the flecks of rust in the irises, suggest moral rectitude. A fan of wrinkles, however, as well as folds of skin at the lids, soften the suggested righteousness. His hair is graying at the sides and thinning at the front, but he has high color and has not yet begun to grow pale as is so often the fate of ginger-haired men in their middle age. Olympia is not sure if she has ever thought about her father's height, nor can she accurately say how tall he is—only that he is taller than her mother and herself, which seems in keeping with the proper order of the universe. His face is elongated, as Olympia's will one day be, although neither of them is precisely thin.

"When you have finished your tea, I should like to see you in my study," her father says in the ordinary manner in which he is accustomed to speak to her, though even she can see that something between them has changed. The sun etches imperfections in his skin, and there are, in that unforgiving light, tiny glints of silver and ginger spread along his jaw line. He squints in the glare.

© 1999 by Anita Shreve

Membership Advantages
  • Reviews
  • "Beyond the Book" backstories
  • Free books to read and review (US only)
  • Find books by time period, setting & theme
  • Read-alike suggestions by book and author
  • Book club discussions
  • and much more!
  • Just $10 for 3 months or $35 for a year
  • More about membership!

Support BookBrowse

Become a Member
and discover your next great read!

Join Today!

Book Discussion
Book Jacket
The Opposite of Everyone
by Joshilyn Jackson

"Quirky and appealing characters, an engaging story, and honest dialogue make this a great book!"
- BookBrowse

About the book
Join the discussion!

Award Winners

  • Book Jacket: A Great Reckoning
    A Great Reckoning
    by Louise Penny
    Canadian author Louise Penny is back with her twelfth entry in the Chief Inspector Armand Gamache ...
  • Book Jacket: Homegoing
    Homegoing
    by Yaa Gyasi
    It's all very well to challenge people to be the masters of their own destiny, but when you&#...
  • Book Jacket: When Breath Becomes Air
    When Breath Becomes Air
    by Paul Kalanithi
    When Breath Becomes Air is the autobiography of Paul Kalanithi, written in the time period between ...

First Impressions

  • Book Jacket

    Victoria
    by Daisy Goodwin

    Daisy Goodwin breathes new life into Victoria's story, and does so with sensitivity, verve, and wit." - Amanda Foreman

    Read Member Reviews

Who Said...

It is among the commonplaces of education that we often first cut off the living root and then try to replace its ...

Click Here to find out who said this, as well as discovering other famous literary quotes!

Word Play

The Big Holiday Wordplay:
$400+ in Prizes

Enter Now

Books that     
entertain,
     engage

 & enlighten

Visitors can view some of BookBrowse for free. Full access is for members only.

Join Today!

Your guide toexceptional          books

BookBrowse seeks out and recommends books that we believe to be best in class. Books that will whisk you to faraway places and times, that will expand your mind and challenge you -- the kinds of books you just can't wait to tell your friends about.