The Rocks

5 of 20
The Rocks
432 pages; Riverhead
For 57 years, Lulu and Gerald—now in their 80s and single, but briefly married to each other long ago—have inhabited the same Mediterranean island, mostly managing to stay out of each other's way. She is still strikingly beautiful, lithe, stylish, and the owner of a popular hotel whose eccentric regulars make up her close circle of friends. He is content to tend his olive trees, look back on his seafaring adventures, and bask in the revival of a book he wrote decades earlier about Odysseus's travels. But the truth is, despite their estrangement, they may never have gotten over each other, and only they know what pried them apart in the first place.

The Rocks, by Peter Nichols, is constructed to keep the reader guessing. The novel begins in the present with a literal cliff-hanger and moves back in time with each subsequent chapter—so we keep turning the pages not to discover what will happen, but to find out what has already occurred. Along the way, there are sumptuous lunches served on yachts, exotic couples met while traveling in Morocco, older women seducing much younger men. There's even a second love story involving Lulu's son and Gerald's daughter. In other words, this is the perfect book for pretending it's already beach season.
— Leigh Haber