The review of Oleanna is up on the HNS website; the link is http://historicalnovelsociety.org/reviews/oleanna/
To expand a little, I was touched by this book, by it’s very poignant starkness. As I wrote in a twitter feed: “Oleanna: a gentle tale with quiet depth, atmospherically stark yet richly detailed like the culture and people of Norge herself. Beautiful.” The prose was simple yet expressive; no fancy writing gimmicks or extraneous details, but every word was carefully chosen.
So many themes were touched upon in such a delicate and understated manner:
-a woman’s place in society (just as in Eucalyptus and Green Parrots);
-having choices or living for duty;
-the rural vs. urban society theme;
-women’s suffrage; and
-the struggle of continuing on and coping after being left behind.
Some of these themes were expanded on more than others, but the novel gave a satisfactory overview of what was going on in Norway at the time. I do wish the history had been explored in a little more depth, integrated a little more robustly into the story, as this is a time period and a situation I (and I’m sure many readers) know nothing about and have not seen any HF set in before. However, too much historical material would have ruined the ambiance of the novel, so I say this with reservation.
The cover is absolutely appropriate and quite lovely. The layout needs work, however- what looks like double spaced text (but the author informed me that it’s not) is a bit distracting, the footnote on pg 140 needs an asterisk, and the footnote on pg 170 is in the middle of the text (needs to be moved beneath the text). There are a few typos. HOWEVER, these are truly small details, and I only say them for a possible benefit when reprinting.
Overall, I recommend Oleanna. I truly enjoyed this tale and still experience flashbacks of some of the scenes from the book.