Sunday 17 March 2013

Review: Oleanna by Julie K. Rose

Set in Norway, at the beginning of the 20th century, Oleanna is a woman who desires more than she has.  She lives on a farm, in the hills, near a lake and has seen her brother emigrate to America in search of a better life and now her remaining brother is set to follow him.

The other member of the family is her sister, Elisabeth who holds a great deal of resentment for her siblings desire and ability to leave their home and coupled with the backdrop of a family tragedy, it appears their lives - as women - will be forever empty and unfulfilled.

The arrival of Anders, a cottar, begins to provide Oleanna with optimism however another shattering tragedy threatens to tear the family apart once more and deny her any chance of a happy future.


The first few pages of this novel demonstrate how a skilled writer can not only paint a picture with words, but elicit the other senses too.  As Julie Rose begins to describe the setting of "Oleanna", you can smell the pine fresh air, taste the clear mountain air and the heady home-brewed akvitt.  I found myself sat next to Oleanna herself, looking out across the lake and marveling at the beauty of the Norwegian landscape.

I have to say, though, that I found the pace a little slow but I think that is an issue for me to come to terms with rather than it being any fault of the author.  I think "Oleanna" would appeal to a female reader more than a male, but the emotional theme of the story and the total frustration felt by the main protagonist is acutely obvious whatever your gender.  

Julie Rose is a talented writer who deserves a wider audience.  Oleanna is based in part on a distant relative and her character is crafted with care and intelligence.  There is a great deal of deep thinking and emotional turmoil weaved through the main plot and the story will stay with with you long after you have finished the book.  I would urge my male followers to read "Oleanna", even if they would initially dismiss it as a novel aimed at the female market, because the writing is exceptional and proves that independent writers are equally as good, if not better, than those in mainstream publishing.

I give "Oleanna" 4 crosses!!

Read my exclusive interview with Julie Rose here

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