2015 · Book Reviews · Fiction · Humour · Romance · Travel

The Olive Branch, Jo Thomas (*)

24485903Published: 2015 by Headline Review | Pages: 400 | Sent from bookbridgr.com

It’s amazing what you can buy online these days:
Memorabilia
Fashion accessories
A crumbling Italian farmhouse…

After a Prosecco-fuelled girls’ night in gets out of hand, Ruthie Collins awakes to discover that she has bid for her dream Italian home online – and won. Recently out of a relationship, a new start is just what Ruthie needs. Anything is better than sleeping on her mum’s settee.

But arriving in Southern Italy, Ruthie doesn’t know the first thing about running an olive farm. And with new neighbours, the tempestuous Marco Bellanouvo and his fiery family to contend with, all Ruthie wants is to go back home. Life can change with the click of a mouse. But all good things – friendship, romance, and even the olive harvest – take time to grow. Can Ruthie finally put the past to rest and find her own piece of the Dolce Vita along the way?

This book was suggested to me by the wonderful site Bookbridgr. I was immediately attracted to it when I saw the beautiful cover and the fact that it was based in Italy. I’ve never visited that part of the world, but would love to as I have a slight obsession for Italian food! Anyway, on to the review!

Well, I knew I was going to enjoy this book just from the descriptive blurb. Arguably, it is your typical brokenhearted woman seeks new adventures in life and ends up with this hunky Italian.  And no doubt, most of us could guess the outcome of the storyline, but, I think Thomas manages to elevate this story through her descriptions of the rustic Italian countryside and Ruthie’s day-to-day life. Personally, I was entranced by the descriptions of the rundown farmhouse and the trullo – my own mind was brimming with ideas of what Ruthie could create. Not only had I already connected with the protagonist, but I really did feel that this book transported me to this part of Italy. I could feel the heat from the sun and smell the olive groves. Thomas seriously knows how to paint a literary picture!

A key aspect of this book is Thomas’ use of comedy. It really speeds up the general pace of reading as you’re desperate to see what’s going to happen on the next page. One of my favourite sections of the book was the stubborn arrival of the infamous goat – and how Ruthie dealt with it. Honestly, it was like Miranda Hart had just leapt on to the page – which for me was brilliantly hysterical!

Although ‘The Olive Branch’ is full of fun, laughs and incredible sounding food, Thomas does remind us that this isn’t a fairytale book, this is real life. Throughout the novel, Ruthie has a constant pressure buzzing on her phone – life in Tooting, London. As Ruthie’s adventure began with a breakup from long-term boyfriend Ed, we witness her go with various emotions including regret, guilt, relief and anger. I think this helps to balance the book out, so there is a sense of reality.

Let’s face it, we’ve all done something in life where the majority of our friends and family have tried to talk us out of it. And we’ve all had that moment where we’ve thought, ‘Oh god, what have I done? Maybe they were right!’ This is exactly what Thomas plays on regarding Ruthie’s emotional journey – she shows her readers that taking that leap of faith may at first seem like a massive mistake, but could eventually become exactly what you’ve been aiming to do in life.

I really enjoyed reading this – pretty sure I devoured in almost 1 sitting (unfortunately the Monday morning alarm was hanging in the near distance, so I had to put the book down to sleep!).

If you’re looking for a quick, light-hearted, enjoyable read – I would give this 5 stars. Go on, you know you want to read it! (Amazon time!)

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