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Fortune's Rocks

(Fortune's Rocks #1)

3.89  ·  Rating details ·  29,977 ratings  ·  1,536 reviews
A meditation on the erotic life of women, an exploration of class prejudices, and most of all a portrayal of the thoughts and actions of an unforgettable young woman.

A stunning new work from Anita Shreve, the author of the acclaimed bestsellers The Pilot's Wife and The Weight of Water, Fortune's Rocks is a profound and moving story about unwise love and the choices that tr
Paperback, 528 pages
Published November 1st 2002 by Little, Brown and Company (first published November 21st 1999)
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Average rating 3.89  · 
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 ·  29,977 ratings  ·  1,536 reviews

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May 23, 2008 rated it it was amazing
I have read and re-read this book literally dozens of times. Every time I take away from it something new. It's a coming-of-age story in the loosest sense of the word, because it's so much more than that.
Shreve's writing just sings in this book. The opening scene, in which the 15-year-old main character makes her way across a beach as men gawk at her, is simply stunning. I can hear lines from this book in my head, they're so well written. Perhaps this book resonates particularly strongly becaus
Jul 24, 2007 rated it really liked it
Shelves: lightreading
I like to read Anita Shreve when I am tired out on "literary" novels but am not quite at the point where something by, say, Sophie Kinesella sounds appealing. Shreve's novels are usually romances of two kinds; ones that build to a tragic emotional climax, or ones that are centered around lost love or an event in the protagonist's past that gets revealed over the course of the novel. I like to call them "trashy reads," but in truth, I think Shreve usually brings quite a bit of quality to her work ...more
May 21, 2007 rated it really liked it
Ok friends, I know Shreve's books can be a little questionable which is why I've only read one other, but this one is the winner. She got it together this time.
I love this book...a reluctant admittance. The story of forbidden love is wrong, right, sad, joyful, and just utterly romantic even in its sheer destruction. I think my feelings for this book may also be biased by things in my personal life around the time that really made me feel and understand all of the characters quite deeply. Anyway,
David Abrams
Sep 27, 2010 rated it did not like it
Open the pages of Fortune’s Rocks by Anita Shreve and you’ll think you’ve stepped into the world of Edith Wharton, Kate Chopin or any number of other turn-of-the-century women writers whose novels were set in refined, confining Victorian society.

Do not be fooled for an instant. Shreve’s novel is a pale imitation of those Grande Dames of Literature.

Oh sure, Fortune’s Rocks—much like Wharton’s The Age of Innocence—is filled with scenes that would startle modern readers with their conservatism. An
Jun 16, 2009 rated it it was amazing
This is definitely the best Shreve book I've read so far. From the first page, writing in the literary style of the Victorians, you have no doubt that this story is not a modern one. In 1899, Olympia Biddeford is nearing 16 years of age and vacationing at the family cottage at Fortune's Rocks. She lives a privileged, educated existence; an only child who seems rather lonely but quite mature for her years. There she meets a married man with 4 children, a friend of her father's nearly 3 times her ...more
Aug 13, 2010 rated it liked it
Guess what happens when a 15-year-old girl "falls in love" with a 41-year-old married man who can't keep his "passion" in his pants ? Hmmm. Basically, this is a nicely written Victorian-era romance novel, telling the age-old story of a grown man who can't control his impulses and desires, and a teenage girl who feels that she's a grown woman. Bad choices all around, but hey, I guess we've all either seen or heard it before, or done it ourselves. It's a good "beach book" with some troubling theme ...more
Nov 05, 2008 rated it liked it
I think I'm one of the ones in the minority here. I had a difficult time getting into the book at first -- perhaps if Olympia had been a couple of years older at least. A 40+ year old man and a 15 year old girl. Ew. That said, I just didn't see any real chemistry between the two, outside of the sexual attraction for this life long supposed great love. I almost gave up when they started writing those long letters to each other, then it picked up around page 200 into her exile and attempt to regai ...more
Jan 07, 2009 rated it did not like it
This is on my list of top 3 hated books. It is about an affair between a 16 year old girl and a 40-something married man. Shreve tries to make this sound like a romance, but I just thought that this man was a child predator/molester/rapist and the whole thing turned my stomach. It is surprising that a woman would write this sort of garbage--it seems like some man writing his perverted fantasy.
Mar 25, 2008 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
I can't really say that I liked this book, but I was interested enough in what happens to Olympia to finish. The story seemed to spend to much time on one period in Olympias life and felt jumpy when it skipped to the next. The setting and storyline was intriging enough right off the bat but it soon began to feel like a dime store romance. Had I ever read a dime store romance, I would guess that the authors use of language was somewhat better, but the smutiness was the same. I think that Olympia ...more
Kathleen Dixon
Jul 13, 2008 rated it really liked it
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Jul 22, 2013 rated it really liked it

That's an approximation of the sound effects I made in my car (on repeat) while listening to this book. The decisions made by Olympia Biddeford continually frustrated me to the point of audibly expressing myself in the car. I tried to get on board with the relationship between Olympia & Haskell. It was 1900! Women got married younger! This could be love? But then every bone in my body would be like: NO! She is 15! He is 41! I don't care what year it is - he is a
Aug 05, 2008 rated it it was amazing
Anita Shreve is one of my favorite authors, and this is an older book of hers that I've just now gotten around to reading. I usually like her books because they are very romantic, but also very literate. FORTUNE'S ROCKS may be my absolute favorite. I LOVED it. I read it in less than two days. Of course, the whole idea of a 15 year old girl and a 40+ man is pretty repulsive, but Shreve somehow makes it all work. You end up rooting for Olympia and Haskell even though you know you shouldn't. Olympi ...more
Aug 18, 2007 rated it it was amazing
An unbelievable tale of love and lose. I couldn't put this book down! I was up until 3am reading. My husband thought I was nuts. It is a tear jerker for any mother. ...more
Nov 10, 2014 rated it it was ok
It's probably not fair for me to rate this book since I am not a fan of bodice ripping romances and don't generally read them. But I read this for a book club so I am now qualified to comment. I had a really hard time getting through the first half of the book. I was bothered by the initial, overwrought paragraph about Olympia morphing from a child to an adult by a walk across the beach when she somehow realizes everyone is lusting after her - stupid. The the 15 to 41 ages aside - I get really i ...more
Jan 03, 2011 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I started this book with trepidation. I had recently read Stella Bain which was a bust for me, I was not a fan. Having read a bunch of other Shreve books and enjoying most of them, I decided to give this one a try as it had been sitting on my shelf now for several years and it was time to move it along. What I didn't realize before starting this one was that the story involved a romance between a 15 yo girl and a 41 yo man! I reluctantly started. I am not a fan of romance and I was sure this lov ...more
Oct 29, 2009 rated it really liked it
Very well written. Kept me interested all the way to the end. If there were half stars I would give it 4.5.
Jun 21, 2009 rated it it was ok
Shelves: fiction, women
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Liz Dubin
May 05, 2014 rated it did not like it
Disliked how the relationship between a 15 year old and a 40 year old was treated as healthy and normal, rather than clearly exploitative. Nor the resolution at the end.
About a 15yr old girl and a 41 yr old married man falling in love. This is a historical fiction. I went in thinking I would hate this book, but I didn’t. Liked it because they seemed like they were soulmates, they were destined to be. It also helped knowing that Brooke Shield was only 14 yrs old when she made Blue Lagoon.

With that said, if this was a true real life story, I would be appalled.


-If you’re used to romance novels, this is not a romance novel, it’s a historical fiction that’s
Ohhh-kayyyy. Where do I start? This is not my typical novel (Victorian-era romance and all) but it was on a reading list with several titles I enjoyed and was hungry for more of the same. This was not the same.

The first half of Fortune’s Rocks explores the relationship between 15 year old Olympia and 40-something John Haskell. If that isn’t saucy enough, he is also “happily” married with four young children (the oldest being 12). But what really turned me off was the fact that Shreve focuses on
May 26, 2012 rated it it was amazing
Epic!! I thought this book was so very good!! The first half made my upper lip sweat and I was reminded what it was like to be young and in love for the first time. The author describes the feelings, the thought process, the intensity so well that you are really remembering it all. Shreve does not smut love up nor does she describe the sexual act. She hints at it thereby also keeping true to the time period...early 1900s. The entire book is a love story but one so layered, involved, and all enco ...more
Sep 27, 2014 rated it it was amazing
When a book keeps me up at night and I become obsessed with it and can't do anything else until I finish it, then I know it's a good one. This was a good one! ...more
Barbara H
Oct 23, 2021 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This novel is described by many as a Romance, but I feel that is oversimplifying its contents. Anita Shreve has skillfully penned a sharply analytical story which is the meditation of the actions of a intelligent, yet youthful, young lady. Although the premise of a romance between a nearly sixteen year old and a 40-something year old man is rather difficult to conceive, the author was able to develop this relationship with aplomb and sensitivity. Her narrative was powerful, probing and profound. ...more
Oct 22, 2009 rated it did not like it
I can't believe I was actually bored enough to read this shit. In my defense, it was free at a yard sale.

Ok, let me elaborate. This book is in every way the literary counterpart to the Lifetime channel. I loathe Lifetime and am utterly insulted that they actually call the channel "television for women."
Nov 21, 2008 rated it it was amazing
I love everything written by Anita Shreve before 2004. Great relationship books, great mystery about them, complex characters, unpredictable....not necessarily happy.
Jennifer Louden
Nov 24, 2018 rated it it was amazing
I loved this story. I loved her writing, I loved the characters, I just loved everything about this book.
Kara Hansen
3.5 stars. I seem to be on an Anita Shreve run of books lately. Fortune’s Rocks is unique in that it’s setting is the same house that her book The Pilot’s Wife takes place. However, this story is set in 1899, as the century is about to turn. The wealthy Biddeford family is central in this story. Olympia Biddeford, only child and daughter meets John Haskell, physician and married man. They soon begin an illicit and daring affair. Shreve writes with her signature style of elegant prose and tense l ...more
Sep 12, 2008 rated it liked it
Shelves: general-novels
I'm not sure how to review this book. First of all, I didn't like it being written from the third person view. The author missed an amazing opportunity to delve into the intense feelings that must have been going on inside or Olympia. Maybe she couldn't write about them because she's never experienced them to the level Olympia did. I have been there,so I know what the writer couldn't express.
Let's see, what else? Haskell and Olympia are two people who experience that "connection" so many people
Sandra Keyser
Sep 02, 2009 rated it it was ok
15-year-old Olympia, at the cusp of womanhood, has an affair with a 41-year-old married man (who by the way already has 4 children) in the name of love.

This was the first Anita Shreve book I've read since "The Last Time They Met" from about 6 years ago which was gorgeously written, and I had hopes that despite my slight aversion to plots centered around affairs, this plot, if well-composed, could be acceptable...

...but by the end of the novel, I was still convinced that John Haskell, the marrie
Oct 10, 2007 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I loved this book - definitely my favorite Shreve book to date. I loved the setting and the characters. It is a wonderful love story - maybe a bit over the edge romance novelish in the details but the story saved it. In today's world Olympia wouldn't be so believable but for a turn-of-the-century female, only child, raised in a world of wealth and educated by her adoring father, I believed her character and her actions. Olympia & Haskell understood the consequences & they truly loved the people ...more
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Anita Shreve was an American writer, chiefly known for her novels. Shreve's novels have sold millions of copies worldwide. She attended Tufts University and began writing while working as a high school teacher. One of her first published stories, Past the Island, Drifting, (published in 1975) was awarded an O. Henry Prize in 1976. Among other jobs, Shreve spent three years working as a journalist ...more

Other books in the series

Fortune's Rocks (4 books)
  • Sea Glass (Fortune's Rocks Quartet, #2)
  • The Pilot's Wife (Fortune's Rocks Quartet, #3)
  • Body Surfing (Fortune's Rocks Quartet, #4)

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