Wednesday, April 10, 2013

Blog Tour Review: Oleanna by Julie K. Rose

From the Back Cover:

Set during the separation of Norway from Sweden in 1905, this richly detailed novel of love and loss was inspired by the life of the author's great-great-aunts.

Oleanna and her sister Elisabeth are the last of their family working their farm deep in the western fjordland. A new century has begun, and the world outside is changing, but in the Sunnfjord their world is as small and secluded as the verdant banks of a high mountain lake.

The arrival of Anders, a cotter living just across the farm's border, unsettles Oleanna's peaceful but isolated existence. Sharing a common bond of loneliness and grief, Anders stirs within her the wildness and wanderlust she has worked so hard to tame.

When she is confronted with another crippling loss, Oleanna must decide once and for all how to face her past, claim her future, and find her place in a wide new world.

My Thoughts:

This lovely little novel was my introduction to Norwegian historical fiction, and I really enjoyed it. It's a beautifully written story crafted around characters based on the authors ancestors, Oleanna and Elizabeth, two sisters left holding the pieces of their family's farm after a series of tragedies. Oleanna is the older sister, a young woman struggling to hold on to the only way of life she's ever known while the lure of the ever-widening world and the opportunities it holds draws her friends and loved ones away. As Norway stands on the verge of becoming an independent nation and radical new ideas--along with a handsome, mysterious new neighbor--make their way into her secluded valley paradise, Oleanna is forced to admit her own curiosity about a rapidly changing world and the possibility of another life that could be passing her by.

This novel is so very atmospheric, bringing the mountain and the lake and the sleepy little village in Sunnfjord to life so much that it becomes a character itself, the perfect setting to display her human characters to their best advantage, particularly Oleanna. She's such a study in contradiction: Devoting herself to the hard work of her farm, she allows herself little room for joy, and yet she is able to appreciate the joy in everything around her. She is wise beyond her years and yet at times infuriatingly childish. Full of hope and wonder of the unknown world yet too afraid to let go of the ghosts that tether her. A supportive sister and loving aunt, an enigma to other villagers, and a wild nymph of the forest to her new friend Anders, an older man starting over in life who is seduced by her unaffected charm and beauty. She's flawed and glorious and I found much in her to admire. I also found myself unable to put down her story as events combined to force Oleanna out of her sheltered existence and onto an exciting and frightening path to discover what is real, what is important, and what is worth fighting for.

It's not often you'll hear me complain that a book is too short, but in this case, I liked it so much that I wanted more. A little more backstory and revelation could have fleshed out some of the supporting characters and given them a bit more depth and motivation, and I wouldn't have minded a little more historical context either. But Oleanna is more than enough to carry the story on her own, the setting is fresh and inspiring, and the love story is both tender and tumultuous. I was also very impressed with Ms. Rose's ability to write honestly and naturally and yet so evocatively that it verges on poetic. And her author's note at the end cinched it for me with an old letter that brought tears to my eyes, a sweet homage to the natural magic of the land that had such a hold on Oleanna. Oleanna was a very different read for me, and very satisfying, and one I would recommend to anyone looking for a change of pace in historical fiction.

My Rating:  4 Stars out of 5

Want to win your own copy of Oleanna?
I have one paperback up for grabs. Simply leave a comment with your email address (for notification purposes only) and you're entered to win it!

This giveaway is open internationally and ends at 11:59pm Friday, April 19. Winner will be selected at random. Thanks, and good luck!

This giveaway is closed and the winner has been selected. Stay tuned for more great giveaways!

Oleanna is on a blog tour!
Click here to view the tour schedule with more reviews and giveaways.
Click here to visit Julie K. Rose's website.


  1. Love to be counted in though being the first to comment doesn't help!!


  2. I have Norwegian ancestors but have never read any Norgwegian Historical Fiction. Would ready love to read this!!!

    Thank you for this giveaway!


  3. I would love to be considered. This book has been on my must read list. Hope I am the lucky one!
    Judith Schara

  4. I have been following the blog tour for this book and everyone seems to really enjoy it. Since I love historical fiction it especially sounds like something I would love! Thanks for the chance to win a copy!

  5. would love to read Oleanna!!!
    thank you for the giveaway!!!

    cyn209 at juno dot com

  6. Sounds like a great story. Would love to read this one. Thanks for the giveaway!

    lafra86 at gmail dot com

  7. I love that book cover! I've been to Sweden before and it reminds me of the beautiful landscape way up north.

    mestith at gmail dot com

  8. This is a new area of historical fiction for me, also. Thanks for the chance to win.

  9. Count me it! Sounds like a nice change of pace.

  10. I have had this book on my wish list for several months. It sounds fascinating. Thanks for the giveaway

  11. Thanks for this fascinating giveaway. saubleb(at)gmail(dot)com

  12. Very interesting and special. Thanks. elliotbencan(at)hotmail(dot)com

  13. would love to peruse the book :3

    freaking_random at yahoo

    thanks x

  14. Glad I decided to revisit your blog after reading your comment on mine today, or I would have missed hearing about this book. Having spent a few months on Norway's western coast, and having Norwegian friends and heritage, this one greatly intrigues me. Thanks for the chance to win it! Email: word_trix (at) yahoo (dot) come.

  15. Thanks for the giveaway!

    lmslaton at gmail dot com

  16. Sounds a great book, love to win :)

    Thank you


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