The Olive Branch
By Jo Thomas
Published by Headline Review (2 July 2015)
You can buy almost anything online these days. But is a crumbling Italian farmhouse a step too far?
Ruthie Collins certainly thinks so when she arrives amid pouring rain to an olive farm she doesn't know the first thing about running. But for Ruthie, newly single, anywhere has go to be better than her mum's settee. Hasn't it?
Life can change with the click of a mouse. But the finer things - friendship, romance and even the olive harvest - take time to grow. Can Ruthie put the past to rest and find her own piece of the Dolce Vita along the way?
The Olive Branch is a gorgeous easy read, perfect to escape into for a 'feel good' summer adventure.
Following a drunken night out, Ruthie Collins buys an Italian farmhouse, complete with olive grove, through E-bay. Too proud to admit to her family and ex-partner Ed that she's made a mistake, Ruthie packs up and heads to Italy.
Arriving in her new home, Ruthie finds herself at the centre of a family feud, adopted by greedy goat Daphne and treated with suspicion by the locals. She discovers that the farmhouse was sold to her by Giovanni Bellanuovo, an elderly man who died shortly after the sale went through.
Determined to renovate the farmhouse and harvest the olives, Ruthie realises that she has a lot to learn. Fortunately there are two locals in particular who offer to help her. There's grumpy Italian Marco (who wants his grandfather's farmhouse returned to the family) and easy-going Australian Ryan (who may not be the most-reliable man around).
The Olive Branch made me want to book a holiday to Puglia in Italy to see rustic Italian farmhouses and olive trees. By the end of the book, I felt that I had learnt a lot about the olive harvest and olive oil. Reading one particular scene made me feel like I could taste the olive oil myself.
The book is well-written, humorous and romantic (but not overly soppy or sentimental), although maybe a little predictable in places. Most of the book is narrated in the first person by Ruthie, although there is some third-person narrative by Marco. The characters were believable and very real, and I loved the large Italian family. The story flowed wonderfully from beginning to end. This was a pleasure to read and I couldn't put it down, taking me less than a couple of hours to read the whole book.
I received an Advance Reader Copy from the publisher through Bookbridgr in exchange for an honest review.