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by T.C. Boyle,T. Coraghessan Boyle

T. C. Boyle's seventh novel transforms two characters straight out of history into rich mythic figures whose tortured love story is as heartbreaking as it is hilarious. It is the dawn of the twentieth century when the beautiful, budding feminist Katherine Dexter falls in love with Stanley McCormick, son of a millionaire inventor. The two wed, but before the marriage is consummated, Stanley experiences a nervous breakdown and is diagnosed as a schizophrenic sex maniac. Locked up for the rest of his life at Riven Rock, the family's California mansion, Stanley is treated by a series of confident doctors determined to cure him. But his true salvation lies with Katherine who, throughout her career as a scientist and suffragette, continues a patient vigil from beyond the walls of Riven Rock, never losing hope that one day Stanley will be healed.

Blending social history with some of the most deliciously dark humor ever written, Boyle employs his hallmark virtuoso prose to tell the story of America's age of innocence--and of a love affair that is as extraordinary as it is unforgettable.

Download Riven Rock epub
ISBN: 014027166X
ISBN13: 978-0140271669
Category: Humor
Subcategory: Humor
Author: T.C. Boyle,T. Coraghessan Boyle
Language: English
Publisher: Penguin Books; First Printing edition (January 1, 1999)
Pages: 480 pages
ePUB size: 1388 kb
FB2 size: 1520 kb
Rating: 4.7
Votes: 249
Other Formats: docx lrf rtf txt

I am a big fan of T.C. Boyle and this is one of his best. Its the story of Stanley McCormick, whose family developed a reaping machine, and they became quite a wealthy family. Stanley designed and had built a large home in the Santa Barbara area, to house his sister who had mental problems. Unfortunately Stanley also had mental problems. He married Katherine and right away was put away for his mental problems. It was decided back then that being around females triggered his problems, so he was housed in Riven Rock himself, with bars on the windows, 24/7 nurses, all of which were male. He went 20 years without seeing a female. Throughout this time Katherine visited him, although they were only allowed to speak on the phone. I read later in a different book that Katherine was instrumental in developing the birth control pill, as she was worried about passing the mental health issue on to children, which they never had. It was really interesting. I highly recommend this read.
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I must admit that I love T.C. Boyle. This is the only book I hadn't read except for "A Friend of the Earth" because it is set in the future. I was saving this book for a "treat" and finally felt it was time to read it. The topic of sexual mania was initially off-putting, but I love the way Boyle makes the past come alive. I am not interested in a history lecture, but I am interested in people. Boyle makes his setting so relatable, I can imagine what it was like to live in the time and place he sets his books.

This book focuses on a smaller number of characters than other novels by Boyle. There are only 3 significant players, as has been mentioned. All three of them are very three-dimensional. I find it interesting that other reviewers have a hard time with Katherine.

Some people have issues with Katherine because although she was an ardent women's rights activist, her behavior was not always so strong and independent. I think these people downplay both the effects of society at that time on even the most intelligent and strong-willed woman, as well as the complexities inherent in each of us. Everyone is a combination of strength and weakness, and if Katherine were any stronger, she would hardly be human.

This book is not as "mean" as some of his earlier works, the characters certainly suffer, but not like they do in, say, "Water Music." There are no clear "villains," just people acting in their own interest, which can be "villainous" to others.

The reader also learns about psychology as it was 100 years ago. It is a masterly work. Many regard this as Boyle's best. I prefer both "Drop City" and "World's End," (hence 4 stars instead of 5) but any fan of Boyle or of books that make other eras come to life will not be disappointed.
This book is quite different.It's a love story but an unusual one between an schizofrenic millionaire heir and his virginal devoted wife during the first decades of the 1900s. The tale is filled with a vast array of interesting and peculiar supporting characters. All of them are essential in bringing to life a past era through their own personal stories and their relation to the main characters. For some reason it took me a while to really get into this book. I think the reason is that I disliked Eddie (one of the narrators) right off the beginning and became a little prejudicial to the whole story. However, both the story and Eddie (to a certain point) grew on me after a while. When it comes to TC Boyle, there are better options than riven rock. Drop City was much more interesting.
I feel rather sheepish to say that despite my long career as a reading fanatic, "Riven Rock" was my maiden introduction to T.C. Boyle and his astonishingly rich and varied body of work. This book is by turns wildly humorous and painfully sad, and by the time you reach its conclusion, you know that Boyle has charted your course through the Human Condition.

Two questions remain: why didn't he get sued to hell and back by the living members of the Cyrus Mc Cormick family, and why didn't this book win the Pulitzer Prize?
A very well-written, compelling tale. Really pulls you in and keeps your attention. The strangest part of all is that it is for the most part a true story. A marriage of upper class people turns into a not-so-private unrequited union. The husband is mad and the wife redirects all her energy and interest to the suffrage movement. And the idea of a husband locked away from the world, in a state of mind that compels his doctors to keep him away from ALL women, is just bizarre! One tries to imagine living either life and comes to the conclusion that one would choose another path, make different choices. The riddle is: why did they choose this? A tremendous, thought-provoking read.