Honestly, I’ve been trying to write this review for over a week. In fact it took me two days to read the book and I’ve been mulling over this post for about 10 days.
The problem is I started this blog to record the passion I feel for books and book-related things. I wanted a place to shout about the stuff I love and hate; an alternative to just confusing my husband with a random stream of consciousness about books he’ll never read and films he’ll never watch. I’ve only written about things I feel I genuinely have something to say about, and the bottom line is that I have almost nothing to say about The Olive Branch. This is an issue for me because I received an advance copy of the book in return for a review.
So, after trying to write something ‘review-ish’ and then reflecting on why I couldn’t, I’ve come to a couple of important decisions.
- No more review copies. I’m not interested in creating a book review blog – and as this exercise shows I probably couldn’t. I’ll read what I want. Of course if I can get a review copy of a book I want to read I’ll be on it like a car bonnet, but I suspect that will be a very small Venn diagram indeed.
- I’m not going to try and write in a ‘review’ style. Either I write from the heart with passion and truth or I don’t write at all. I’ll list all the books I read on my Goodreads page, but I’ll only write about the ones that actually move me – whether that’s because they move me to buy everyone I know a copy, or they move me to hurl them forcibly in to the sea.
So, now we’ve cleared that up I will, in good faith, share my actual thoughts about The Olive Branch by Jo Thomas
A romantic novel is not about the destination – when the cover blurb asks will Ruthie make her rundown olive farm work and find love with her tempestuous neighbour? The answer is yes, she definitely will. We know where we’re going with a romance, what we want is a charming journey with likeable people. For me The Olive Branch is an average journey with alright people – I simply can’t feel any more for it than that.
In one scene author Jo Thomas makes the idea of kissing a man who has literally been drinking olive oil sound incredibly sexy. That’s no mean feat and she should probably get some sort of award just for that.
Not long after Ruthie arrives in Italy she meets a mafia-type who extracts money for protection from her. This seems quite sinister and looks like a potentially interesting sub-plot; it is never mentioned again.
And my final thought is an editorial one – there are many exclamation mark in this book and only one of them (used in direct speech by a character exclaiming something) actually adds anything at all to the text. If you’re ever wondering whether to use an exclamation mark, remember the words of the great F Scott Fitzgerald:
“Cut out all these exclamation points. An exclamation point is like laughing at your own joke.”