Fifteen year-old Olympia Biddleford is destined to live a life of privilege and prestige in Boston society. Everything changed in 1899. While staying her parents' summer home on the New Hampshire coast, Olympia falls in love. Unfortunately, the man of her dreams is the married friend of her father. Dr. John Haskell loves Olympia in return and the two begin a secret affair.
Olympia is wise beyond her years, but her maturity isn't enough to prepare for the repercussions of her actions. The great scandal that rocks the Biddleford family is the subject of Fortune's Rocks.
Anita Shreve's compelling tale easily divides into three parts. Olympia's discovery of her feelings for Haskell and the subsequent romance are drawn out in the first third of the novel. The consequences of Olympia's actions speed up the pace and drive the middle of the story. The dramatic final portion is meant to tug at readers' heartstrings and concludes with a uninspired ending.
The vivid descriptions of the harsh physical landscape are the most memorable aspects of Fortune's Rocks. Olympia and the cast are formed well, but they have few unique attributes. Shreve has created better characters in The Last Time They Met and Sea Glass.
Anita Shreve is a talented author and creator of memorable tales. I liked Fortune's Rocks, but it won't stand out as one of her best. The time frame is great, but the story takes a path I've seen one too many times. Sentimentalists should enjoy the romance in a setting used again in Sea Glass. For a stand out work of fiction, try The Last Time They Met. It's Shreve at her best.