Join BookBrowse today and get access to free books, our twice monthly digital magazine, and more.

Reading guide for Fortune's Rocks by Anita Shreve

Summary |  Excerpt |  Reading Guide |  Reviews |  Read-Alikes |  Genres & Themes |  Author Bio

Fortune's Rocks

A Novel

by Anita Shreve

Fortune's Rocks by Anita Shreve X
Fortune's Rocks by Anita Shreve
  • Critics' Opinion:

    Readers' Opinion:

  • First Published:
    Dec 1999, 435 pages

    Paperback:
    Jan 2001, 464 pages

    Genres

  • Rate this book


Buy This Book

About this Book

Reading Guide Questions Print Excerpt

Please be aware that this discussion guide will contain spoilers!

In a summer community on the coast of New Hampshire at the turn of the last century, a girl is drawn into a passionate affair with a man nearly three times her age. Fortune's Rocks is the story of Olympia Biddeford — privileged, well educated, and mature beyond her years — and her affair with John Haskell, who is married with three children. Drawn together on the night of the summer solstice, the pair set in motion a series of events with far-reaching consequences for all involved. This is a haunting novel about an unforgettable young woman and the tragic consequences of reckless love.


Questions for Discussion
  1. Is Olympia's innocence in the opening scene believable?

  2. How did the absence of strong female role models affect Olympia's emotional development?

  3. Olympia evolves into a passionate woman in a rigid society. Does her isolated upbringing as an only child who is home-schooled contribute to this? How?

  4. How does Shreve foreshadow future events? Do these scenes help to explain Olympia's decisions later in the book?

  5. Was Zachariah Coates's action justifiable? Was it purely malicious? Did he have ulterior motives?

  6. "It seemed the most elemental gesture to take a child from a man," says Olympia (p. 441). Discuss the various instances in which Olympia takes a child from John's hands.

  7. Olympia is a mature teenager, and she accepts responsibility for her situation. As a fifteen year-old, though, can she be blamed for the affair and the pregnancy?

  8. If John was not married and a father of four children, would you feel differently about his relationship with Olympia? At the beginning, did he love Olympia, or just feel tremendous desire for her?

  9. If you were in Olympia's shoes, could you have made the decision she made regarding her son? Was it the right decision for the child? For her?

  10. Discuss the theme of possession. Olympia says that she never "possessed" either John (p. 208) or her son (p. 436). Is it ever possible for a person to possess another?

  11. What issues are raised at the trial regarding class? Could these be raised in a court of law today? Are they valid?


Reproduced with the permission of the publisher, Little, Brown & Co. All rights reserved.

Unless otherwise stated, this discussion guide is reprinted with the permission of Back Bay Books. Any page references refer to a USA edition of the book, usually the trade paperback version, and may vary in other editions.

Membership Advantages
  • Reviews
  • "Beyond the Book" articles
  • 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 $45 for 12 months or $15 for 3 months.
  • More about membership!

Support BookBrowse

Join our inner reading circle, go ad-free and get way more!

Find out more


Top Picks

  • Book Jacket: The Demon of Unrest
    The Demon of Unrest
    by Erik Larson
    In the aftermath of the 1860 presidential election, the divided United States began to collapse as ...
  • Book Jacket: Daughters of Shandong
    Daughters of Shandong
    by Eve J. Chung
    Daughters of Shandong is the debut novel of Eve J. Chung, a human rights lawyer living in New York. ...
  • Book Jacket: Anita de Monte Laughs Last
    Anita de Monte Laughs Last
    by Xochitl Gonzalez
    Brooklyn-based novelist Xochitl Gonzalez is an inspiring writer to follow. At forty, she decided to ...
  • Book Jacket: Icarus
    Icarus
    by K. Ancrum
    The titular protagonist of K. Ancrum's young adult novel Icarus lives a double life that mixes the ...

BookBrowse Book Club

Book Jacket
The Familiar
by Leigh Bardugo
From the #1 New York Times bestselling author Leigh Bardugo comes a spellbinding novel set in the Spanish Golden Age.

Members Recommend

  • Book Jacket

    This Strange Eventful History
    by Claire Messud

    An immersive, masterful story of a family born on the wrong side of history.

  • Book Jacket

    Daughters of Shandong
    by Eve J. Chung

    Eve J. Chung's debut novel recounts a family's flight to Taiwan during China's Communist revolution.

Win This Book
Win Only the Brave

Only the Brave by Danielle Steel

A powerful, sweeping historical novel about a courageous woman in World War II Germany.

Enter

Wordplay

Solve this clue:

F T a T

and be entered to win..

Your guide toexceptional          books

BookBrowse seeks out and recommends the best in contemporary fiction and nonfiction—books that not only engage and entertain but also deepen our understanding of ourselves and the world around us.