Riven Rock Book Summary and Study Guide

Detailed plot synopsis reviews of Riven Rock

This is the novelized story of Stanley McCormack, heir to the McCormack Reaper Co. fortune, and his high society wife Katherine. McCormack suffered from schizophrenia, a family disorder which sent his sister to Riven Rock, a private sanitarium the family built for her care when she became unmanageable. Stanley's own illness first appears when he is a very young man in Paris, doing the Grand Tour common in wealthy families. Although Stanley becomes the richest man in the U.S. when his father dies, there was no cure nor treatment for mental illnesses (c. 1900), and the best his mother can do is hire paid "companions" to stay with him at all times.
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When Stanley is about 30, he meets Katherine, a wealthy and educated young woman from an Old Line family, quite high in society. Not understanding how serious his illness really is, she falls in love with the tall and handsome young man and marries him though his mother does everything possible to stop the marriage. On their wedding night, Katherine gets her first taste of the horrors to come when Stanley loses control and attacks her.
The book covers the entire period of their marriage, about four decades, during which they try one crackpot cure after another. There is also a subplot revolving around a young Irishman, and his own problems with prejudice.
The review of this Book prepared by Laura Adamson

Chapter Analysis of Riven Rock

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Plot & Themes

Time/era of story    -   1900-1920's Family, caring for ill    -   Yes Who is sick?    -   husband because he/she is    -   mentally ill Is this an adult or child's book?    -   Adult or Young Adult Book

Main Character

Gender    -   Male Profession/status:    -   wealthy Age:    -   long lived adults Ethnicity/Nationality    -   White (American) Unusual characteristics:    -   Mentally ill


How much descriptions of surroundings?    -   4 () United States    -   Yes Misc setting    -   fancy mansion

Writing Style

Sex in book?    -   Yes What kind of sex:    -   vague references only Amount of dialog    -   roughly even amounts of descript and dialog

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T.C. Boyle Books Note: the views expressed here are only those of the reviewer(s).
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