The Rocks by Peter Nichols

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Out of the stunning beauty of the Mediterranean, on the isle of Mallorca, grows the story of Lulu and Gerald, whose marriage years ago, that was cut short by tragedy, has a lingering effect on everything and everyone that comes afterwards.  Lulu has moved on, to marry and divorce again, but to have given birth to Luc, to whom she is sometimes neglectful and sometimes movingly devoted. Most importantly, she is now running the successful resort, called “The Rocks,” where much of the story takes place.  Gerald, too, has moved on, to marry and have a beautiful daughter, Aegina, whose life also intersects with Luc’s.

It is the telling of the story, though, that is unique.  It is told by peeling off layer by layer of time in reverse order, almost in vignettes or short stories, but still clearly interconnecting.  As each layer is uncloaked, we learn more and more about each character — in the way a psychologist would, by digging deeper and deeper into one’s chronology to find the root of a behavior.   In these layers  are hidden some very deeply disturbing events, told so subtly that the full impact seems to hit in a delayed fashion.  The whole effect is actually quite powerful and the more I think about the story, the more I appreciate it.

There is a lot that is sad about this book, but there is beauty and culture as well.  An excellent read!

 

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