Book Review: Orphan of the Olive Tree By Mirella Sichirollo Patzer

Two families bound by a blood oath,

A dreadful curse and the casting of the evil eye that will shatter lives,

And the dark family secret one woman will risk everything to keep buried.

From two neighboring villas in the heart of the Tuscan countryside to the elegance of Siena; from a world steeped in ancient superstitions to a culture where family honor is paramount comes, this multi-layered novel of the lives, loves, secrets and strivings of two women and their families in the 13th century.

Felicia Ventura dreams of a happy future raising a family, but her hopes are shattered because of a curse and the casting of the evil eye by her envious neighbor, a dark Sicilian beauty named Prudenza. Prudenza’s envy of Felicia turns into a dangerous, frenzied obsession and she revives an ancient superstition, spreading the rumor that Felicia’s twins were fathered by different men. The scandal destroys Felicia’s marriage. But when Prudenza gives birth to twin daughters of her own, she is desperate to save face and rids herself of one infant, keeping the child’s existence secret. As the years go by, the truth has a way of making itself known. Soon Prudenza’s deception will lead to the unraveling of everything she values in life.

An absorbing novel about wicked intentions, medieval superstitions, a curse uttered in envy, undisclosed secrets, unstoppable destinies, and two generations of women and the extraordinary event that will vindicate or destroy them.

I enjoyed this 122 chapter book. Even though the chapters were very short, I would have never imagined reading a novel that was more than 70 chapters. Instead of using scene breaks, the author chose to rotate chapters between every character (around 10 characters).

My favorite lines: 1) “Looks can deceive,” said Cosma. “Often what gleams on the outside is rotten within. Peace is a state that must be guarded for it can easily be lost.” 2) This woman whom he barely knew had through no deliberate act of her won, infiltrated his mind, his heart and soul. 3) The past is best left to rest. It is the future that carries hope.

Enrico and Carlo were best friends. Enrico was married to Felicia while Carlo married Prudenza. Felicia had twin boys: Luca and Lorenzo. Prudenza had twin girls: Giustina with the mom giving up Olivia.

  • Prudenza was a jealous hater, who could cast the evil eye. A horrible lie she spread came back to bite her in the butt after her children were born. To avoid scorn, she gave the oldest baby up.

Even though Luca and Giustina were allegedly destined to marry, they didn’t love each other. It boggled my mind that the parents were adamant that love wasn’t part of the equation for marriage. I loved all the drama, tension, and conflict that ensued because of this. I wanted to give the kids a hug because of the pain they endured, trying to convince their parents to change their minds.

My favorite scenes: 1) Cosma (a healer) and Vincenza were on a journey to start a new life when a horse causes something tragic for the both of them. My heart broke during that scene. 2) the scenes with the star-crossed lovers Lorenzo and Giustina/ Olivia and Luca. 3) the ending when karma finally catches up to Prudenza.

Mirella Sichirollo Patzer had a great talent with dialogue. The conversations were realistic, yet full of passion from all sides. Especially when the fathers spoke; they were so stubborn. My favorite characters were the kids and Felicia. They could do no harm in my book, but I truly despised Prudenza. I loved that the author made all the characters three-dimensional, so I got a chance to get to know all of them. I cared or loathed them–it was never a situation where I thought ‘why is she spending so much time on this person that I don’t care about?’

I RECOMMEND this book to read.

For more information on the author or book:

Keep smiling,

Yawatta Hosby

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