Van has finished reading…the Rocks by Peter Nichols

2 Jun

The Rocks is a family history told from finish to start. Spry, gutter-mouthed, somewhat malicious (at least where Gerald is concerned) and yet strangely endearing Lulu and raddled, bone-stricken and wheezing Gerald together meet their end. There is history between them, cryptic words at the last, and accusations. When their children from separate marriages meet to gather their last effects those words are echoed. There’s a mystery somewhere back there. But there’s clearly choppy water betwixt Luc (Lulu’s son) and Aegina (Gerald’s daughter) too. And they’re weary, coloured by this mystery that separated Lulu and Gerald, yet seemed to hold them too in proximity on the small holiday isle.

The Rocks is an engaging read. It took me a little while to settle into the story and get to grips with who is who, but once there the intrigue of it all steadily drew me in. Of course it’s not just Lulu and Gerald’s big secret that we head towards, but a number of other incidents that are either magnified or simply reflected in the light of new information each time we take a step further into the past.

The story really jumped into life for me when in Morocco. The adventure of it all, the proximity and possibility of the situation keeping me turning page after page. The same too with the closing chapters of with Gerald and Lulu. There are a couple of passages presented from a child’s point of view which are charming, and Peter Nichols has clearly met enough Spanish officials in his time to understand that laconic indifference with which they meet both temperamental foreigners and local figures of authority.

It’s as much Luc and Aegina’s story as it is Lulu and Gerald’s and Peter Nichols’s handling of their shifting characters is what stands out for me. They are recognisably themselves throughout, yet are noticeably different too. Luc’s world-weary despondency giving way to his hunger, his need to succeed, giving way to his fragile optimism giving way to his boyish physical desire. There are moments with both Luc and Aegina where I wanted to shout SAY IT, or else STOP! It’s easy to shake your head at their mistakes, less so to admit you’d probably have done the same at that age.

When it comes to Gerald and Lulu I found myself liking her less as time moved backwards, and him more. There comes in the end a fundamental question: was she right to cut him off the way she did?

I’ll leave you to answer that one for yourself.

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2 Responses to “Van has finished reading…the Rocks by Peter Nichols”

Trackbacks/Pingbacks

  1. The Inaugural Curtis Brown Book Group – my first six months as a #CBBookGroupie | vanisreading - 01/07/2015

    […] The Rocks by Peter Nichols […]

  2. The #CBBookGroupie playlist | vanisreading - 09/02/2016

    […] Theme, The Rocks by Peter […]

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