‘Fortune’s Rocks,’ will not disappoint her fans

September 26, 1999
Elisabeth Sherwin -- gizmo@ dcn.davis.ca.us

Don’t even suggest that best-selling author Anita Shreve is a romantic.

“Romance is the wrong word,” she says. “I like writing about love and strong emotions and about what ordinary people do in extraordinary circumstances.”

From that interest stemmed several books with themes that seem, well, romantic. In the best possible sense of the world.

Take, for instance, her novel “The Pilot’s Wife,” which has sold 1.8 million copies to date. And watch for it on TV: CBS is making a movie version of the novel.

This novel explores the limits of intimacy. It all started when Shreve overheard a pilot at a cocktail party say: “When there’s a plane crash, the union always gets there first.”

From that chance remark came the story of Kathryn Lyons, a happily married woman who is awakened one night by a knock on her door. That’s how she receives word that her husband, Jack, was killed when the plane he was piloting exploded over the ocean near the coast of Ireland. In this state of grief and shock, she begins to learn a series of startling revelations about her husband and the nature of love. She sets out to learn who her husband really was and what she learns is as surprising as it is painful.

Shreve asks her readers to think about whether it’s ever possible to know someone definitively. She thinks not.

“It’s an interesting quandry,” she said in a recent phone interview. She now has seven novels to her credit with “Eden Close,” “The Weight of Water,” “Resistance,” “Where or When,” “Strange Fits of Passion,” “The Pilot’s Wife” and her most recent “Fortune’s Rocks,” which will be available in bookstores soon.

“Fortune’s Rocks,” is set in the late 19th century, in the same town on the New Hampshire coast and in the same house that much of the action in “The Pilot’s Wife” took place.

It took Shreve two years to complete the research needed to finish the book, she said. She especially enjoyed studying 19th century language and creating the accurate historical mood. And Shreve fans looking for romance won’t be disappointed: “Fortune’s Rocks” is the story of a love affair between a 15-year-old girl, Olympia Biddeford, and a 40-year-old husband and father, Dr. John Haskell.

Biddeford and Haskell find out that reckless love has devastating consequences not the least of which is divorce and the abandonment of a baby. But Shreve, for all her skill, makes some surprising missteps in plot. Certain scenes are painfully predictable. And the book feels like her editors insisted on a happy ending. Readers may also wonder why Biddeford’s mother, described in some detail early on, is ignored toward the end of the book (when one would think she might have something interesting to say to her wayward but awesomely bright daughter). Still, “Fortune’s Rocks” will doubtless please her fans.

Shreve was born and raised in Dedham, Mass., and today she still lives in Massachusetts with her husband and two children. Periodically she is invited to teach at nearby Amherst College, which she enjoys.

“I’ve been a writer since 1989,” she said. “The teaching is more recent, but I like it very much. I like to teach the craft of writing.”

When asked to pinpoint some of the mistakes beginning writers make, she couldn’t.

“There are as many different kinds of mistakes as there are writers,” she said. “Maybe the biggest mistake early writers make is giving up.”

In the late ‘70s , before she began writing fiction, she was a journalist and spent two years covering events in Nairobi, Kenya. She also worked as a free-lance journalist in New York City for US Magazine, the New York Times and New York Magazine.

“I always wanted to be fiction writer,” she said. So she wrote her first novel, “Eden Close,” which was published in 1989. While most people find writing and breaking into the dog-eat-dog world of publishing difficult, Shreve did not.

“I just sat down and gave it a try,” she said. “It wasn’t particularly hard. It was something I wanted to do.”

Shreve wasn’t completely untrained. She was an English major at Tufts University before becoming a journalist. That, plus her experience as a journalist, and her frankly romantic tendencies, have worked well for her.

If you’d like to meet Shreve, her book tour will bring her to the San Francisco Bay Area in January.

To inquire about ordering any of the above mentioned books from an independent bookstore,
Bogey's Books at discounted prices [ Click Here ]

[Author Menu] [Date Menu] [Genre Menu] [Printed Matter Home]
The Davis Virtual Market