Today I am pleased to present another Indie Author release The Orphan of the Olive Tree by Mirella Sichirollo Patzer.
About the Book: A historical fiction novel and family saga about two families bound by a blood oath, a dreadful curse, 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 neighbouring 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 honour is paramount comes, this multi-layered novel of the lives, loves, secrets and strivings of two women and their families in the 13th century.
A blood oath to wed their first born children binds the Benevento and Ventura families. When Prudenza Benevento learns her nemesis, Felicia Ventura, is pregnant, she is jealous and secretly casts the curse of the evil eye upon her. Felicia gives birth to twin boys. Jealous, Prudenza visciously resurrects an ancient superstition that unidentical twins can only come from different fathers. The scandal tears apart Felicia’s marriage and makes her an outcast in the small Italian village where they live.
Fate intervenes, and when Prudenza gives birth to twin daughters, she is desperate to save herself from the same scandal that ruined Felicia. She orders the midwife to take one daughter away. With only a gold ring and a brocade blanket as clues to the infant’s past, the midwife leaves the child and the items in an olive tree in front of a small convent. The nuns lovingly name the child Olivia and raise her.
Years later, in a shocking encounter, Olivia meets a young man named Luca. When an act of God nearly kills her, it is Luca who comes to her rescue. Soon, their love for each cannot be denied. When she finds herself with child, Luca offers to care for her and the child, but cannot wed her because he is already betrothed. Despite her misgivings, her love for Luca proves strong and Olivia places her faith in him and follows him to his new villa and a new life. Luca makes numerous unsuccessful attempts to avoid his forthcoming marriage and marry Olivia instead, but the blood oath and Church laws make it impossible. As the date of Luca’s wedding draws near, and the secrets of Olivia’s secret past begin to surface, long buried secrets are exposed in a twist of fate no family member can anticipate.
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.
This is the second title I have read from this author, and I have finally been able to determine why her books work so well for me: craft. Patzer has taken countless hours in research to develop a solid grounding in the time and the people who inhabited it so many years ago. This research then does three flips and a twist, and she is able to put pen to page and craft characters that breathe their essence of time, place and emotion into the story. It is a richly abundant characterization that allows the common elements in each human, despite their time or circumstance to speak to the reader at a subconscious level to create an enjoyable reading experience.
This story is set in Tuscany in the 13th century – a time rife with superstition and fear, communal intrigue, family secrets and rough living. In an agrarian society, lives are far too busy with the tasks required for survival, family, crops, harvest and a certain version of fitting in is paramount. Women were little more than pawns in the grand scheme, marriages were based on strategic alliances, and to be different is to come against the society and the church: one must conform or become an outcast.
Following the stories of several different characters, Patzer has successfully created a way to show viewpoints and superstitions, the underlying feuds and interplay between the characters as their choices show how they have progressed, or not, throughout the book. There are betrayals and loves, vengeance and secrets: an entire saga is contained within the pages. Not all of the stories are wrapped up neatly, leaving an opening for a follow-up, but the reader can imbue their own sense of ‘who needs more justice meted out’ after turning that final page.
If you want a book that will transport you back nearly 1000 years in time, that is redolent with the intrigue and characters who are very modern feeling despite their antiquated beliefs, this most certainly is the book for you.
I received an eBook copy from the author for purpose of honest review for my Indie Authors Rock promotion on I am, Indeed. I was not compensated for this review, and all conclusions are my own responsibility.
About the Author:
A true blue Taurean in every way, Mirella Sichirollo Patzer was born in Edmonton, Alberta, Canada, but grew up in Calgary, a city famous for the Calgary Stampede, oil companies, and the wild west.
Although an avid reader of historical fiction, she never aspired to be an author. But when she discovered the rich World War II history of her mother’s family (the Moro River Campaign was fought on her grandfather’s vineyards – (still in the family’s possession today) she decided to write about it one day.
Mirella is first generation Italian Canadian who likes a clean house but hates housework, detests winter, and is mildly claustraphobic. She loves books, cooking, writing, and a good helping of her homemade tiramisu.
Passionate about writing and honing her talents, she owns and operates two critique groups for intermediate and advanced writers:
She also runs a book club for women’s historical fiction at:
Her short story, Down Three Steps, was featured in the Canadian best selling anthology, Mamma Mia: Good Italian Girls Talk Back. She is the author of The Pendant, The Blighted Troth, The Contessa’s Vendetta, and her latest, Orphan of the Olive Tree.
Mirella is currently working on a novel of the life of Mathilde of Ringleheim, The First Queen of Germany. Meticulously researched and filled with memorable characters, it is the fictionalized biography of one of the most fascinating and influential women of the 10th century.