Author Peter Nichols has written a wonderful novel that takes us to the coast of Spain with vivid, intertwined characters, romance, secrets, and deception. Nichols weaves a unique story in The Rocks that is captivating and hard to put down. He methodically leads us back through time as the deftly structured story is slowly revealed.
We begin with Lulu and Gerald who once had a relationship, but have not spoken in over fifty years despite living in the same Spanish town. They hold a secret to their disdain that remains a mystery until the end. While unfolding the lives of Lulu, Gerald, their children and those around them, Nichols’ setting is a beautiful seaside resort called "The Rocks", which Lulu has run since the 1950’s. The Rocks attracts a colorful cast of English expats - a reformed criminal, failed writer, and other regulars all loyal to Lulu and her welcoming hospitality. The retreat is a sexually charged place where friends and family come for comfort and escape, with the resort’s bar at its vortex for meals, chess, conversation, and lots of misbehavior.
Also central to the narrative are the children of Lulu and Gerald - Luc and Aegina respectively. Their separate dramas and shared thorny past provide another layer of tension and provides its own mystery, divulged over decades. Their parents and their own unusual relationship contributes to the dark, decades long family saga.
The characters in The Rocks are loved and scorned, but Nichols makes it so alluring I could sense the ocean breezes, walks through the lemon groves, and feel of a boat at sea. Nichols doesn’t deliver his story on a silver platter - he makes us think about the facts presented and leaves it to us to put the pieces together with great anticipation as he reveals the past to us. The Rocks is an intelligent, romantic, disturbing page turner - very high on my summer favorites list.
Publisher: Riverhead Books
Vickie’s rating: 4 stars