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3.79  ·  Rating Details ·  774 Ratings  ·  58 Reviews
To the harsh domain of Rockbound -- governed by the sternly righteous and rapacious Uriah Jung --comes the youthful David Jung to claim his small share of the island. Filled with dreamy optimism and a love for the unspoken promises of the night sky, David tries to find his way in a narrow, unforgiving, and controlled world. His conflicts are both internal and external, loc ...more
Paperback, 326 pages
Published May 1st 1989 by University of Toronto Press (first published January 1st 1928)
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Life of Pi by Yann MartelRoom by Emma DonoghueThe Book of Negroes by Lawrence HillLullabies for Little Criminals by Heather O'NeillOryx and Crake by Margaret Atwood
Canada Reads 2011 - Top 40 Novels
30th out of 75 books — 132 voters
Anne of the Island by L.M. MontgomeryThe Birth House by Ami McKayAn Audience of Chairs by Joan ClarkFall on Your Knees by Ann-Marie MacDonaldRedeeming Brother Murrihy by Antony Millen
Nova Scotia
7th out of 92 books — 38 voters

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Community Reviews

(showing 1-30)
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Rockbound is the story of David, a fisherman in Canada's Nova Scotia, and his journey in becoming one of the people and fishers of Rockbound, a small island off the coast split by competing families who's hierarchies, hatreds, and actions lie at the heart of the people of Rockbound. Love, friendship, and tragedy occur in Parker Day's romantic view of the original Nova Scotian island Ironbound as the fictional character David faces his Goliath, and makes a place for himself on the cold, unforgivi ...more
May 25, 2015 Krista rated it really liked it
Shelves: can-con, 2015, maritimes

“An’ what might ye be wantin?” said the old man, the king of Rockbound.
“I wants fur to be yur sharesman,” answered David.
“Us works here on Rockbound.”
“I knows how to work.”
“Knows how to work an’ brung up on de Outposts!” jeered Uriah. “Us has half a day’s work done ’fore de Outposters rub sleep out o’ dere eyes, ain’t it!”
“I knows how to work,” repeated the boy stubbornly.
“Where’s yur gear an’ clothes at?”
“I’se got all my gear an’clothes on me,” said David, grinning down at his buttonles
Shirley Schwartz
I love CanLit. It's one of my favourite genres, and I am so proud of our numerous very talented authors in this country. This book is a classic and a fitting winner of the Canada Reads award. The book was written in 1928 by Frank Parker Day, who was born in Nova Scotia. He was schooled in Oxford and in Berlin and came back to North America at the beginning of the Great War. He taught in the States for a while, but came back to Cape Breton to live out the rest of his life. All of Day's experience ...more
Nathaniel Smith
Jun 27, 2012 Nathaniel Smith rated it it was amazing
This was a perfect book to discover on the shelf of my family's place in Maine. Written in 1928, the language is smooths and masterful, and the story is both classic and original at the same time. The tragedies so well known to fishing communities like the fictional Rockbound of Nova Scotia are not glossed over in this book, but the author also acknowledges the culture and great spirit that those communities had as well. This was a thrilling sea yarn, educational treatise on fishing methods, and ...more
Jennifer D.
originally published in 1928, 'rockbound' never made much of a splash with book sales, but the novel crops up in CanLit courses across the country. in 2005, the novel was included in Canada Reads - and ended up winning. this was cool because it brought a whole new audience to the book!

set on an island off nova scotia's south shore, the story well depicts the hardships of rural and fishing life, and the challenges of a community almost completely connected as family. the settings are evocative an
Jan 11, 2008 Donna rated it it was amazing
Shelves: canlit
My best read so far this year. Day's descriptions drew me right into
the story, and every page was a gem, right from beginning to end. Clear
and poignant evocation of setting, characters, community, tradition..
Voted as the book all of Canada should read in 2005 by CBC Canada Reads
program. I'm not sure that I would agree with that lofty opinion, but
loved it all the same. Excellent read. Highly recommended.

QUOTE: “Life was like the sea that began the destruction of an island as soon as it had made i
Chantal Saville
Jan 12, 2014 Chantal Saville rated it really liked it

Part of what is wonderful about reading a book is the escapism. You can immerse yourself in the characters and the places of another world. Frank Day Parker’s book, Rockbound, provides just such an escape. Selected as one of the CBC “Canada Reads” texts for 2005, it has experienced a re-birth. This novel, originally published in 1928, has been brought back and thank goodness that it has.

It is the story of David, an out port fisherman who has gone to Rockbound to claim his share of the family lan
A well written book, that did a fantastic job at exploring the lives of a fishing colony on a small island in Nova Scotia. I can see why it won the Canada Reads award, it may not have been completely gripping for me, but the writing and development was well done, and I can definitely see a lot of readers enjoying the story.

The author does a fantastic job at creating a very realistic atmosphere of the small fishing island in Nova Scotia. He writes about the harshness of the sea and the lives of a
Paula Dembeck
Aug 02, 2013 Paula Dembeck rated it it was amazing
David Jung, an 18 year old abysmally poor orphan, lands on Rockbound, an isolated island in the Atlantic surrounded by fog, storms and often brutal winter weather. He has nothing but the worn and tattered clothes on his back and a driving determination to make something of himself and have a better life. Uriah Jung, his great Uncle, is the acknowledged king of this small island, but David who has inherited one tenth of it from his dead mother, has come to claim his inheritance. This is the story ...more
Jun 07, 2013 Rosana rated it really liked it
My maternal grandfather was in his late teens when a woman – a teacher I imagine – taught him the sounds of letters. He then taught himself to read and write. I don’t know many details of this story, as it didn’t seem necessary to keep the details from generation to generation. But when I read about David approaching the one room school teacher Mary about learning how to read, I could not stop thinking of my own grandfather.

Here is the passage that follows, when David is sitting at his kitchen t
Jan 11, 2010 Lee-Anne rated it really liked it
Recommended to Lee-Anne by: CBC Radio Canada Reads
7 January 2010

Promises to be a David and Goliath story of mythical proportions, set on a rugged island, isolated and harsh. The evocation of Jason (of Golden Fleece fame), the Biblical David, and Fate all within the first few pages establish the universality of the story and the wheel of fortune at work. Character-driven and with a strong sense of place, the book evokes a real time and place. Looking forward to reading this book!

Not having too much difficulty with the dialect, although my husban
Nov 01, 2014 Laura rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: listened-to
I really thought that I wasn't going to like this book. Most times when I think about books about Atlantic Canada and fishing, my first thought that it is going to be depressing. Life is hard, people die to the sea, and it is just plain miserable.

I was never so happy to be proven wrong.

Rockbound is a book about David Jung who goes to the island of Rockbound as an orphan to work for his uncle Uriah, who is known as the King of Rockbound. David must work hard to prove his worth, and to try to be
Jan 28, 2014 Lorraine rated it really liked it
Such a lovely book! Really should be a classic, and I'm glad it was resurrected by U of T and Canada Reads. It follows a basic plot structure, one main likeable protagonist, some not completely evil 'villains,' drama and a bit of romance. Actually, literarily (Shakespearean) speaking, it is a romance because the devil intercedes at one point.
David is a young man with a good work ethic who strives to reclaim his land on a island, Rockbound. There are two feuding families on the island and a local
Feb 22, 2010 Shirley rated it really liked it
A reprint of a book originally released in 1928.It was a Canada Reads 2005 Winner. It is written by the now passed author Frank Parker Day. It is a fiction set in the off shore islands on the south of Nova Scotia. It has much of the dialect of the time which I found a bit difficult at first. The time is the late 1800's. This book starts out rather slowly but if you soldier on it is a most interesting read. It is a truly interesting look into the difficult lives the early fishermen of the time ha ...more
Joanne Seitz
Apr 14, 2016 Joanne Seitz rated it really liked it
This book was published in 1928 and I came across it because of its Canada Reads (2005) status. It gives a fascinating account life as a fisherman on the south shore of Nova Scotia in the early 20th century. Only thing i didn't like was too much dialogue written in strong accents. On the other hand, some people on the south shore still sound somewhat like that! Was trying to find more background on the book and found that the Rockbound island is likely drawn from the Tancook Islands, in Mahone B ...more
Sep 11, 2012 Bonny rated it it was amazing
This is a classic of life on an island of the coast of Nova Scotia. It tells of back breaking work, dependence on the sea for livlihood and the hardships of life almost cut off from the rest of civilization.

Rockbound is ruled by a cunning old man and his family who does anything and everything he can think of to make money. He is as hard atask master, some would say a slave driver as he is avaricious.

The language of the fishermen and women is very idiomatic and hard to follow at first but it is
Dec 04, 2015 Brooksie rated it really liked it
I've read this book twice now. While I enjoyed it more the first time around, it's still a fascinating look at life in a very isolated Nova Scotian community in the early 20th century. The central character, David Jung, has come to Rockbound to claim his late mother's property. David disrupts the "kingdom" of Uriah Jung, the patriarch of the island. Life is difficult for everyone in the book, and you won't be smiling much as you read, but it's still enjoyable and well-written. The dialect used b ...more
Jan 25, 2013 Heep rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Some books are nice to read - others nice to have read to you. This is in the latter category. The audiobook is very good and the narration is the perfect way to experience the story.

It is the tale of a fishing community in Nova Scotia. There are storms, shipwrecks, epic courtships, fish harvests, fights, boozing and more, largely told in local vernacular. I do not know if it is at all true to life (as it was long ago) but it seems so authentic - it is how many of us imagine it to be.

It is a ro
Aug 27, 2009 Deanna rated it it was amazing
As someone who grew up on the prairies and have only lived in Western Canada I have very little knowledge of the history, stories and traditions that emerge from Atlantic Canada. This book inspires me to learn more.

Day depicts the lives of a group of men who depend on fishing for their livelihood. The women do not play a major role in the story except as plot devices. The real struggle is between the men and the ocean as they try to eke out a living on small isolated island on Nova Scotia's Sout
Sep 25, 2015 Al rated it it was amazing
Beautifully written period piece, about life on an island in Maritime Canada. Written in 1928, Day does a great job of painting the life through story of a remote fishing community, describing the hard life they lived in a natural style that makes this story easy to read, despite the colloquial dialogue of the time which once you get into its rhythm becomes easy and enjoyable to follow. Best read while listening to The Waterboy's Fisherman's Blues on repeat and enjoying a rum or two at the same ...more
Sep 27, 2009 Carrie rated it really liked it
Life on a half-mile wide island off the coast of Nova Scotia in the very early 1900s. The twenty or so inhabitants are tough and hard-working, earn a tenuous living from the sea, and mostly hate each other. The author weaves good quasi-love-story out of the setting though- the characters are memorable and the dialogue (though difficult to read at first b/c of the thick vernacular)is entertaining. Enjoyed it!
This book is considered a classic of Nova Scotia literature. I enjoyed it, but I found the east coast dialect difficult to get used to and to understand. It worked for me as a novel that portrayed what life was like for isolated fisher families. I did not feel that I really got to know the main character well, but I could easily picture a stereotype of him. I must confess to skimming all the sailing lingo as it meant nothing to land-bound me.
Apr 10, 2012 Yvonne rated it it was amazing
Rockbound by Frank Parker Day helped me to understand the culture of Eastern Canada. When speaking to recent residents of Newfoundland I discovered that the book, altho' written over 70 years ago is still true to form. The characters, the life, the story of love and loss, misunderstanding and renewal all made we love this book. Read first in 2005 (thank you CBC Canada Reads) and reread in 2011 Go Canada!
Oct 29, 2014 Tracy rated it it was ok
This book wasn't only hard to get into story line wise, the garbled written speech was also a challenge to get around (and I speak with a NS Accent).
No gripping characters to be tied down to this book for me.
A better novel for NS fisherman themes - if someone was interested would be 'Lobster Kings'
I'm not 100% sure why I loved this book, but I did. The historical perspective of life in a hard-scrabble Nova Scotian fishing village, the heart-breaking trials of David Jung, the feuds and fights of the residents of Rockbound, altogether made for a great story.

I would especially recommend to anyone with a romantic ideal of life on the East Coast (but who has a tolerance for rough dialect).
Ellen Au
May 18, 2014 Ellen Au rated it did not like it
tried this as the 1st book of a new book club & could not get into it. flipped to the end to learn. the main protagonist makes a better life for himself, nice ending. unfortunately the
"authentic" local dialect style of dialogue threw me off completely & I could not focus on picking up the storyline
April Mcleod
Nov 21, 2013 April Mcleod rated it it was amazing
Another favourite Canada reads book. At first I found the east coast dialect difficult but soon settled in and found I was reading it with an ease that surprised me. I typically give books away preferring to share than hoard - however this book is on my bookshelf to Re-read again another time.
George Ilsley
Aug 18, 2014 George Ilsley rated it liked it
Shelves: fiction, canada
The residents of Ironbound were upset by this novel, which was loosely based on the two main families on the island. The novel itself is hard to judge: what was life actually like in 1910 in a Nova Scotia south shore fishing village?
Jan 29, 2010 Dawn rated it it was ok
Since this book was set in the same part of Nova Scotia that my family is from, it felt like a look back into my family history. My grandfather and great-grandfather were fishermen on the South Shore; their lives were likely quite a bit like this.
Paul Demetre
Nov 25, 2014 Paul Demetre rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Set on a fishing island off Nova Scotia it is the story of disenfranchised David Jung and his Uncle Uriah Jung, the 'King of Rockbound'.

With all of the classic themes of love, hate, greed, envy, inheritance, rivalry, nature, struggle, longing and loss, this novel has it all.
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