The lives and loves of expatriates on Mallorca, shaped by a 60-year-old misunderstanding.
Nichols' novel opens in 2005 with a chance meeting between Lulu Davenport and Gerald Rutledge on a cliff-top road near The Rocks, Lulu's seaside hotel. Though they live in the same small town on an island, the couple has managed to avoid each other since their very brief marriage in the 1940s, and this encounter immediately becomes a confrontation. In its course, the pair of 80-somethings accidentally tumble to their deaths. The remaining sections of the novel—set in 1995, 1983, 1970, 1966, 1956, 1951, and 1948—trace backward through the ripple effects of their falling-out to the incident that started it all, sweeping into the vortex their children by other spouses, and the generation after that as well. As intoxicating as a long afternoon sitting at the bar at The Rocks, the book features complications that include a book deal, a real estate swindle, a shipwreck, a drug bust, and many sexual affairs, including a couple of statutory rapes. All of it is absolutely riveting, leaving the reader desperate to depart immediately for swoony Mallorca, depicted from the time no one knew where it was (one would-be visitor goes to Monaco by mistake) to its present-day popularity. Nichols' expertise on everything from the Odyssey to olive oil to classic movies enriches the story, as does his profound understanding of his screwed-up cast of characters. "They were self-employed professionals, artists, writers, nonviolent sweet-natured criminals, mysteriously self-supporting or genteelly impoverished,....occasionally sleeping with one another in a manner that disturbed no one. In unspoken ways, they recognized one another, and everything they did made perfect sense to them, though they often arrived on the island as pariahs of the outside world, but were soothed and taken in by their steady, tolerant, and nonjudgmental friends and lovers on Mallorca."
A literary island vacation with a worldly, wonderfully salacious storyteller.