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In this beautifully written and powerful debut novel, Ella Joy Olsen traces the stories of five fascinating women who inhabit the same historic home over the course of a century — Braided stories of love, heartbreak, and courage connect the women, even across generations.
In Root, Petal, Thorn, each of the women’s stories is beautifully crafted; Olsen skillfully fleshes out her characters, furnishing them with distinct personalities and fascinating life circumstances. While the voices are multifold, the story flows as one rather than in disjointed parts. The house is as much a character in the book as the women who live and love within its walls. The book tackles themes of grief and courage in the face of loss, but does so in a way that leaves the reader uplifted. In addition to the compelling characters, the true strength of the book is its message of connectedness. This captivating novel is a delight from start to finish.
Historical Novel Society - Editors' Choice
“Root, Petal, Thorn is a fascinating novel that centers around the history of a house and those who lived there throughout different time periods: the young woman in the early 1900’s who is torn between her heart and her beliefs, the mother who will stoop to low levels to prevent her son from marching off to World War II, and more. Ella Joy Olsen mixes history and genealogy into a believable novel.”
RT Book Reviews – 4.5 Stars Top Pick
“Exploring the residents of one house gives Olsen a way to explore the layers of lived experience that eventually turn into what we know as history. [It is] provocative in the way it explodes and expands the category of historical fiction.” Ellen Fagg Weist - The Salt Lake Tribune
"This debut novel succeeds in uniting five flawed, sympathetic characters through the focal point of one house. Olsen points out that sorrows are part of life, but there's continuity and grounding as well. Recommended for readers who appreciate character-driven novels about the daily lives of women." - Library Journal
"Olsen succeeds in making each character come alive...by the end the reader will find themselves attached to each of the strong characters and invested in how each of their stories will end" Tori Ackerman - The Deseret News
“Five women. Five complicated lives. One house where they all live over a period of one hundred years. In this story, the walls talk. Wonderful, compelling saga!” - Cathy Lamb, author of The Language of Sisters
“Within this captivating debut, we recognize ourselves, our mothers, our sisters, and our daughters in these flawed yet endearing characters. In reading, we are left with a deeper appreciate for our own imperfect lives.” - Sandra Kring, bestselling author of The Book of Bright Ideas and Carry Me Home
“Olsen does a remarkable job re-creating each historical era, from the days before WWI to the present time. Each time period is as vivid and true as her captivating characters. Olsen is an emerging voice to watch for in historical and contemporary women’s fiction.” - Aimie K. Runyan, author Promised to the Crown
“Root, Petal, Thorn is a delicate blend of mystery and history, and ultimately grief, intertwining love and hope for future generations. An excellent offering from a delightful writer.” - Leslie Lindsay, award winning reviewer and author of Speaking of Apraxia
“I loved this book. Wait, backspace, revise: I LOVED THIS BOOK! It can be enjoyed by everyone with a beating heart and a soul.” - Luann Braley, blogger at Kentucky Gal