Monday, 8 August 2016

Review: Root, Petal, Thorn by Ella Joy Olsen

In this beautifully written and powerful debut novel, Ella Joy Olsen traces the stories of five fascinating women who inhabit the same  historic home over the course of a century—braided stories of love, heartbreak and courage connect the women, even across generations.

Ivy Baygren has two great loves in her life: her husband, Adam, and the bungalow they buy together in one of the oldest neighborhoods in Salt Lake City, Utah. From the moment she and Adam lay eyes on the  home, Ivy is captivated by its quaint details—the old porch swing, ornate tiles, and especially  an heirloom rose bush bursting with snowy white blossoms.  Called the Emmeline Rose for the home’s original owner, it seems yet another sign that this place will be Ivy’s happily-ever-after…Until her dreams are shattered by Adam’s unexpected death.

Striving to be strong for her two children, Ivy decides to tackle the home-improvement projects she and Adam once planned. Day by day, as she attempts to rebuild her house and her resolve, she uncovers clues about previous inhabitants, from a half-embroidered sampler to buried wine bottles. And as Ivy learns about the women who came before her—the young Mormon torn between her heart and anti-polygamist beliefs, the Greek immigrant during World War II, a troubled single mother in the 1960s—she begins to uncover the lessons of her own journey. For every story has its sadness, but there is also the possibility of blooming again, even stronger and more resilient than before…

Paperback, 320 pages
Expected publication: August 30th 2016 by Kensington

Terri's Thoughts

I received an advanced copy of this book from the publisher Kensington via Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.  The expected publication date is August 30th, 2016.

I am in complete and utter disbelief that this novel is a debut for Ella Joy Olsen.  The way that the multiple stories intertwine seamlessly is not something you would expect from a rookie novel.  The way that she capture the emotion of each and every woman featured in this story was that of a seasoned writer and I must admit it is a great surprise that this was a first.  As someone who has read many debut novels this one stands as being one of the most polished that I have read.

I loved the concept of this story.  A kind of a if these walls could talk approach where the reader learns about the many lives that lived in the home.  As someone who has a fascination with history and historic dwellings this captured me right away.

Some stories I preferred more than others but all of them captured me.  My favorite as seems to always be the case was the first one in 1913.  It always seems the older the story the more it captures me.  I believe the love story along with the moral dilemma attached is what drew me in and kept me captive.  Since the book would go back and forth between the multiple stories I had feared that this one was forgotten after the beginning as the focus moved to the other storylines.  Alas I was rewarded for my patience as this story served somewhat as the opening and closing of the story.

The story of Ivy, the present day resident on the house was where I found I was least interested.  I think it may be that (luckily) I have never been in her shoes so I can't really identify with her reality, and I hope I never have to.  I grew more attached as the story went on so if anyone reading the story feels the same, stick with it, her story gets better.

That is all I am going to say about this book.  I feel this is a read it and make your own judgment type of story and anything I say will not capture it's essence or do it justice.  I really enjoyed this one.  I hope there is more to come from Olsen in the future.

About the Author

(From her Goodreads profile)

I was born, raised, and currently reside in Salt Lake City, Utah - a tidy town tucked against the massive Wasatch Mountain Range. Though Utah is known mostly for Mormons and skiers, I am neither. Oh, but I love my town. I live in a historic brick bungalow on a tree-lined street in a sweet neighborhood called Sugar House. From the front door I can reach the mountain trails in five minutes flat, passing an indie bookstore, a library, and a local food market en-route.

I'm the proud mom of three kids ranging from pre-teen to edge-of-the-nest teen, the mama of two dogs, and the wife of only one husband (just to clarify - this is Utah, after all).​​

Though I'm crazy about words, I'm also practical, so I graduated from the University of Utah with a degree in Finance. After years spent typing boring stuff, I eagerly gave up my corner cubicle and started writing fiction. Most at home in the world of the written word, I spent nearly a decade on the Board of Directors of the Salt Lake City Public Library system (and four decades browsing the stacks). I'm a member of Women’s Fiction Writers Association and the best book club ever (Salt Lake Bibliophiles). I've also lived in Seattle, Washington and Savannah, Georgia.

No comments:

Post a Comment