Written by Julie K. Rose
Review by Andrea Connell

Set during the 1905 split of Norway from Sweden, Oleanna is a gentle imagining of the lives of the author’s two great aunts living in an isolated farm in Norway’s western fjordland.  It is the story of two women who carry on when the rest of the world has left them behind; it is a tale of strength, loss, grief, and the ghosts of those they love. Oleanna and Elisabeth are the last remaining family members to work their isolated farm; their mother and sister have tragically perished, their father is dead, and their two brothers have emigrated to America. When a new tenant arrives just over the farm’s border, Oleanna begins to awaken from her grief and seclusion and glimpses a light of hope in her future. When she is confronted with yet another loss, she must decide once and for all whether to allow the ghosts of her past to control her future. To this reader, the author herself summarizes the book’s style in the author’s note when she writes, “…the beautiful spirit beneath the quiet, solid, oh-so-Scandinavian homesteader’s exterior…” This is a novel of quiet depth that evokes strong imagery; it is a story that is stark and humble and at the same time, finely drawn. The awe-inspiring scenery, the backbreaking work, and, at the same time, the appeal of and sense of belonging the women feel for their home are brightly painted through the author’s judicious use of language. A beautiful story.

This book was added to the review list before HNS Indie updated its criteria for layout and design. Because of the double-spaced text, it may not have been accepted for review now. It would have been a shame to deny a review to this picturesque work because of an error in layout design, but this is something to consider for the future, should the author chose to republish at some point.

(Note: The spacing and format issues have been fixed in the 2nd edition. -ed.)