Book - 2004
Average Rating:
Rate this:

To the harsh domain of Rockbound -- governed by the sternly righteous and rapacious Uriah Jung --comes the youthful David Jung to claim his small share of the island. Filled with dreamy optimism and a love for the unspoken promises of the night sky, David tries to find his way in a narrow, unforgiving, and controlled world. His conflicts are both internal and external, locking him in an unceasing struggle for survival; sometimes the sea is his enemy, sometimes his own rude behavior, sometimes his best friend Gershom Born, sometimes his secret love for the island teacher Mary Dauphiny; but always, inevitably, his Jung relatives and their manifold ambitions for money and power.

The balance of life on Rockbound is precarious and thus fiercely guarded by all who inhabit its lonely domain, but just as a sudden change in the direction of the wind can lead to certain peril at sea, so too can the sudden change in the direction of a man's heart lead to a danger altogether unknown.

Enormously evocative of the power, terror, and dramatic beauty of the Atlantic sea, and unrelenting in its portrait of back-breaking labour, cunning bitterness, and family strife, Rockbound is a story of many passions-love, pride, greed, and yearning -- all formed and buffeted on a small island by an unyielding wind and the rocky landscape of the human spirit.

Canada Reads 2005 Winner!

In a David and Goliath style battle to the finish, Rockbound by Frank Parker Day triumphed over Oryx and Crake by Margaret Atwood and was declared the 2005 Canada Reads winner. In a series of debates that aired on the CBC in February, panelist Donna Morrissey, author of Kit's Law and Downhill Chance , passionately championed this 1928 novel about life and nature on the small maritime island of Rockbound. The victory has brought this Atlantic Province favourite back into the limelight and is receiving nationwide attention, appearing on several bestseller lists across the country.

After its initial publication, Rockbound remained in out of print status until 1973, when the University of Toronto Press acquired the rights to publish as part of their "Literature of Canada Prose and Poetry in Reprint" series. It was reprinted with an introduction by Allan Bevan of Dalhousie University's English Department.

In 1989, Gerald Hallowell, an editor with the University of Toronto Press, rescued Rockbound from the backlist of the UTP catalogue. The book was reprinted with an afterword by Gwendolyn Davies, Dean of Graduate Studies and Associate Vice-President (Research) at the University of New Brunswick.

UTP had been selling around 200 copies of the book per year, until Donna Morrissey selected it for the Canada Reads debates. Since then, UTP has sold over 35,000 copies and it has been reprinted three times!

The University of Toronto Press would like to thank Donna Morrissey for her superb defense of the book and all of the people at the CBC for their support and encouragement.

Publisher: Toronto : University of Toronto Press, [2004], c1989
ISBN: 9780802067234
Characteristics: 328 p. : ill., map


From the critics

Community Activity


Add a Comment
WVMLStaffPicks Jan 22, 2015

This Canadian classic was first published in 1928. Set in a fishing village on Nova Scotia's south shore, where Day spent much of his youth, this is the story of a young fisherman who comes to claim his small share of an island, and finds himself in a struggle for survival with the island's autrocratic ruler. It is unrelenting in its portrayal of back-breaking work, cunning bitterness and family strife set against the dramatic beauty of the Atlantic.

Jul 28, 2013

Feel the salt spray, hear the seagulls cry overhead, and smell the pungent odour of herring as this page-turning tale of rugged ambition, survival, and ancient feuding unfolds on a small island off the coast of Nova Scotia. The Outport jargon is essential to the story. A glossary of arcane words, at the end of the book, would have been helpful.

WVMLBookClubTitles Jun 17, 2013

First published in 1928, Rockbound was reaffirmed as a Canadian classic in 2005 when it was chosen for CBC’s “Canada Reads” by a panel of Canadian writers. It is the story of a young fisherman who comes to claim his small share of an island and make a living in a small village off Nova Scotia’s south shore. He is immediately confronted by the village’s autocratic ruler Uriah, who is determined to defeat him at every turn. The rocky landscape, the local dialect and the sound of the fisherman’s drawl make this book especially memorable.

Apr 04, 2012

One of my all time favorite books! Its a bit tougher sounding out as you read , but goes much smoother as you get used it and well, well worth it!

Oct 01, 2011

This is truly a lost classic. Day's writing is an allegorical story of (hu)man versus nature in a fictionalized town on the south shore of Nova Scotia where everyone is vying for a better life.

technojoy Jun 20, 2011

Hard to believe that when it was written, this book was wildly controversial, now that it has become a classic, and is nearly a hundred years old. It's a gritty tale of people who live and work in a harsh environment. Happy ending, though.

Age Suitability

Add Age Suitability

There are no age suitabilities for this title yet.


Add a Summary

There are no summaries for this title yet.


Add Notices

There are no notices for this title yet.


Add a Quote

There are no quotes for this title yet.

Explore Further

Browse by Call Number

Subject Headings


Find it at PPL

To Top