Title: The Olive Branch
Author: Jo Thomas
Publication Date: 26 March 2015 (paperback due to be published 2 July 2015)
Publisher: Headline Review
Rating: 4 out of 5
Escape to Italy with THE OLIVE BRANCH – the irresistible new novel from Jo Thomas, award-winning author of ebook runaway bestseller THE OYSTER CATCHER.
You can buy almost anything online these days. For Ruthie Collins, it was an Italian farmhouse.
Yet as she battles with a territorial goat and torrential rain just to get through the door of her new Italian home, the words of Ed, her ex, are ringing in her ears. She is daft, impetuous and irresponsible.
But Ruthie is determined to turn things around and live the dream.
First, though, she must win over her fiery neighbour, Marco Bellanouvo, and his tempestuous family…and there’s the small matter of running and olive farm. As the seasons change and new roots are put down, olives and romance might just flourish in the warmth of the Mediterranean sun.
‘Warm, funny, romantic with a terrific sense of place. I loved it!’ Katie Fforde
The Olive Branch is the second novel from English author, Jo Thomas.
Ruthie Collins wakes up one morning to realise that she has bought a house on Ebay and not just any house, but one in the Italian countryside! Coming out of a relationship with her ex-boyfriend, Ed, she decides that a new start is what she needs. Besides, she has a design job which allows her to work anywhere and she can speak Italian… On her arrival, she is met by torrential rain, a territorial goat, a run-down farmhouse and a pack of unfriendly Italian neighbours. Has Ruthie bitten off more than she can chew…?
The first thing to mention about The Olive Branch is the amazing setting in Puglia, Italy. The author evokes vivid images of an idyllic Italian town, beautiful rolling countryside, sunshine,fabulous food cooked by an Italian mama… everything that Italy should be! I could virtually smell the olives.
Despite the fantastic location, it is the characters that really bring the story to life. Ruthie is a great character – artistic and impulsive but a hard worker with a little bit of common sense lurking in the background. Marco is the hunky Italian neighbour, reserved and grumpy at times, but loveable underneath. The supporting characters are great, including Marco’s large and opinionated family (mothers, sisters, brothers, grandmothers!), a dodgy Australian tradesman, a potential love rival and, my favourite, Daphne the goat – a real scene stealer!
The characters come across a host of obstacles – misunderstandings, unfriendly locals, dodgy tradesmen, a family feud and a trouble-making goat! However, at the heart of the Olive Branch is a love story, albeit one with an interesting storyline.
The story is written in first person narrative, interspersed with a bit of third person narrative from Marco. Whilst I usually prefer third person narratives for romance novels, this split-narrative style worked surprisingly well for me.
The Olive Branch is full of humour and giggles, a well-written, undemanding, uplifting and thoroughly entertaining read that will have you running to the computer to look for Italian holidays! The Olive Branch would make the perfect summer read, particularly if enjoyed whilst sat on the terrace, glass (bottle) of wine in hand and a bowl of juicy olives.
Amazon UK: Kindle – http://www.amazon.co.uk/dp/B00N9AVEJ4
Paperback – http://www.amazon.co.uk/dp/1472223705
Amazon US: Kindle – http://amzn.com/B00N9AVEJ4
About the Author
Jo Thomas worked for many years as a reporter and producer, first for BBC Radio 5, before moving on to Radio 4’sWoman’s Hour and Radio 2’s The Steve Wright Show. In 2013 Jo won the RNA Katie Fforde Bursary. Her debut novel, The Oyster Catcher, was a runaway bestseller in ebook and was awarded the 2014 RNA Joan Hessayon Award and the 2014 Festival of Romance Best Ebook Award. Jo lives in the Vale of Glamorgan with her husband and three children.