Discussion Guide: The Rocks

1.      The Rocks is a novel that experiments with the chronology of storytelling, unfurling backward through time. What did you think about the way that time was handled in the narrative? Did it affect the way you related to the story and characters? Did it make the story feel more—or less—propulsive?
2.      Consider the parallel relationships between Aegina and Luc, Lulu and Gerald. How are these two relationships similar, and how they are different? To what degree is Aegina and Luc’s relationship shaped by the dynamic between their parents?
3.      How did you interpret the ending with Luc and Aegina? Was it clear or ambiguous? Light or dark? How did you feel about the author’s decisions there? 
4.      From the beginning of the book we understand that there is a secret at the foundation of Lulu and Gerald’s split, and that it may be based on a tragic misunderstanding. The book then spirals backward through time to get to that past secret. Were you surprised when you found out the truth? Was it what you expected? Were you satisfied?
5.      The book covers sixty years of life on the island of Mallorca. What changes do we see on the island over this time? How are they reflected in the people who live and visit there? Do you see reciprocal changes between the island and the people? That is, do the people change the island, or does the island change the people? In what ways?
6.      What do you think the author is saying about expat culture and the people who build lives outside of their home countries? Discuss the positive and negative outcomes of such a decision. 
7.      Consider the cultural knowledge the book imparts -- about the Odyssey, olive oil production, classic films and Hollywood... What can we learn about other parts of the world from the specific details the author brings to the page? How can reading a book like The Rocks inform us about cultural norms, traditions, and expectations?
8.      Peter Nichols is an American who went to school in England and spent summers on Mallorca with his family. Since then he has lived all over the world and held a variety of jobs. After a successful career as a nonfiction writer, he turned to fiction and The Rocks. How do you think the author’s experience and biography may have shaped this book?