Review: Oleanna by Julie K. Rose

Nestled away in the fjordlands of Norway lies a little farm, home to Oleanna and her family–but Oleanna’s family is about to change.

After already trying to come to grips with the recent tragic deaths of her mother and sister only a few months before, Oleanna and her sister Elisabeth are losing their brother, John, to the American dream!

Not only will Oleanna be responsible for Elisabeth and Elisabeth’s son, Torjus, but it will be up to them to make the farm thrive. Though both sisters are angry at John for leaving they are, in their own individual ways, jealous that he is getting to have his own adventures.

Neither Oleanna nor Elisabeth has ever left the farm—it is all they know. Not that they haven’t thought of it or dreamed of it, but with the death of their father and then a short time later, the death of their mother and sister, and now both of their brothers fleeing to America has left them with little choice but to stay in Norway and take care of the farm.

Luckily the sisters have a cotter that lives on their land to help them with the farming if need be. Anders is a mysterious older man who now calls the secluded village of Sunnfjord home. He has only been there a few months but already Oleanna and Elisabeth have come to enjoy his company….especially Oleanna.

Oleanna was previously engaged to a local cleric named Soren, but broke off the engagement, everyone in the town has more or less labeled her a spinster after that fiasco….even Oleanna herself, until she meets Anders.

Anders, like Oleanna, is plagued by his own grief and loneliness. He has come to the countryside to find peace and heal the wounds that life has cruelly inflicted on him. He finds happiness in the young wild woman of the forest—Oleanna.

Sadly, life intervenes and separates the budding lovers and Oleanna must decide what is more important to her, staying on the farm with everything that is comfortable and familiar or leave and follow her free spirited heart?

This novel caught my eye for one specific reason…..the setting. Normally, I read a lot of historic fiction that is set in England, America, or France…..but mostly England. England tends to be the favorite setting for most historical fiction novels and why not, it’s full of history!

But after a while, one can’t help but wonder what else is out there beyond the UK in the world of HF? Enter Oleanna.I know absolutely nothing about Norway and its history….zero. I hardly know anything about the Vikings even, that’s how little I know of the Nordic regions….I can find Norway on a map, maybe pick the right flag out of a line up, and I know the Olympics were held there in 1994….that’s about it.

I like reading books about places and history that I know nothing about because I have no expectations or assumptions about the period, setting, or history. So when Amy at Historical Fiction Virtual Book Tours approached me to review this book, I was all in.

I was astonished at the breathtaking use of setting! Norway sounds absolutely stunning! The flourishing landscapes, forest, and lake all drew me in and made me feel like I was reading about a place both foreign and familiar at the same time.

But the novel isn’t just about a refreshing setting, it’s a novel about love, loss, and a woman’s journey to find peace within herself. Initially I was a little put off by the relationship between Anders and Oleanna, part of me felt like the only reason she was interested in him was lack of other options, however that preconceived notion was readily dispelled the more I read. Both Anders and Oleanna complimented each other well, and I found their romance tender and genuine.

My singular issue with the novel was more with how Oleanna herself was portrayed. Anders calls her his “wild woman of the forest” and at other times in the novel it is implied that she is restless and kind of an “untamable”, “wild” soul. I didn’t really read her that way at all. I felt these descriptions were more in tune with Elisabeth than Oleanna.

I felt like her character needed a little more ‘umph’ to be a believable wild woman. Thus her journey and choices seems a little out of character for me at times. I really liked her as the heroine though….she was relatable, responsible, caring, and I could easily identify with her in many ways but as the ‘wild forest woman’ I just wasn’t convinced personally.

At times the novel was a little predictable but I didn’t necessarily mind that, the characters were interesting and the storyline kept me reading. I was engaged in the novel from beginning to end, though it might have been predictive in places, I really enjoyed what I was reading.

The political and historical parts of the book were presented in an easy to follow format as well. Knowing zip about Norway wasn’t really an issue for me. Rose added a lot of background and didn’t overwhelm the reader with too many historic facts or unnecessary background on Norway.

I thoroughly enjoyed learning about what was going on historically at that time from the Norwegian perspective. You do not want to pass up this sweeping novel! Be sure to check out the other blog stops on this tour (stops listed below) for interviews, giveaways, and more reviews!

Challenge/Book Summary:

Book: Oleanna by Julie K. Rose

  • Kindle Edition
  • Published (first published January 23rd 2012)
  • ASIN B006Z8B3PC
  • Review copy provided by: HFVBT as part of the Oleanna Virtual Book Tour in exchange for an honest review

This book counts toward: 2013 Historical Fiction Reading Challenge

Recommendation: 4 out of 5 (a sweeping novel in an enchanted setting)

Genre: Historic fiction, Romance

Memorable lines/quotes:

“I don’t know what I can do anymore. I don’t know what I want. My heart is being pulled in so many directons”.

“Your mind you mean?”


“Your mind is bring pulled in so many directions. Your heart knows”.


Monday, April 1
Feature & Giveaway at Passages to the Past

Tuesday, April 2
Review at So Many Books, So Little Time

Wednesday, April 3
Review, Interview & Giveaway at The Lit Bitch

Thursday, April 4
Review & Giveaway at Peeking Between the Pages

Friday, April 5
Guest Post at So Many Books, So Little Time

Monday, April 8
Interview & Giveaway at The Maiden’s Court

Tuesday, April 9
Review, Interview & Giveaway at Oh, for the Hook of a Book!

Wednesday, April 10
Review & Giveaway at Let Them Read Books

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