Publication Date: November 27, 2013
It’s 1841 and Olivia Killion’s father is dead. In the tradition of the day, Olivia’s father leaves his modest fortune to his oldest son, leaving Olivia and her brother his Pennsylvania home and store at the mercy of their oldest sibling and with his controlling intended. Olivia has no intention of living under the thumb of her brother’s wife until they’re able to off-load her to the first man that shows interest. Olivia has a plan. In her father’s will is a plot of land in Michigan that will be given to whoever travels there and tries to plant crops. Mourning Free, the son of escaped slaves, is integral to her plan. Olivia knows that she can’t possibly pull this off alone, but can she convince Mourning, a man who feels safest where he is, to take the risk and come with her?
[easyazon-link asin=”1493652451″ locale=”us”]Olivia, Mourning: Book 1 of the Olivia Series (Volume 1)[/easyazon-link] is the first book in the Olivia series.
The author, Yael Politis, gave me a copy of this novel in exchange for my review.[easyazon-link asin=”1493652451″ locale=”us”]Olivia, Mourning: Book 1 of the Olivia Series (Volume 1)[/easyazon-link] would more accurately be called Part One of the Series rather than Book One. This is not a novel that can be read as a stand-alone as there are loose ends tied in the course of the book but more left hanging by the time we leave Olivia’s world. Readers who don’t have the second novel at hand will find this start to an epic saga unsatisfying and perhaps quite frustrating. Politis gives great care to creating characters in whom the reader becomes invested and puts them in untenable situations with a cliff-hanger that leaves the invested reader no choice but to keep reading. Despite it’s lengthy 408-page count, [easyazon-link asin=”1493652451″ locale=”us”]Olivia, Mourning: Book 1 of the Olivia Series (Volume 1)[/easyazon-link] is a consistently engrossing read.
We meet Olivia Killion as her old life comes to an end. She goes to her father’s room to give him a dreaded cleanup. He fights her every moment, but she keeps on because it’s her duty. She finds him dead. Olivia and her brother have a conversation about their relief, but what Politis lays out immediately is that as harsh as Olivia’s feelings may sound, we know how hard her life has been. She loved her father, but she was bound by duty to serve and she intends to maintain her freedom. When she develops her plan, nothing will stop her without regard to how foolhardy it is for her to travel to the wilds of Michigan in 1841.
Mourning Free’s parents had rolled into town in the night and died shortly thereafter leaving the newly born Mourning in the hands of the town. The town turns him over to the family of the town’s black jack-of-all-trades. When that man decides to go West, Mourning is first forced to go with them and escapes. For Mourning, he sees staying in the town as necessary to his freedom. He’s convinced that if he does, slave hunters will catch him and his benefactors will not be able to save him. Olivia sees leaving as freedom, while Mourning sees it as the end of his freedom, but he agrees to go with her and take the risk. They always had a strange bond, so do not expect a romance novel. [easyazon-link asin=”1493652451″ locale=”us”]Olivia, Mourning: Book 1 of the Olivia Series (Volume 1)[/easyazon-link] is a historical saga and while it’s one in which anything can happen there are no happily-ever-afters in this book. Politis does not treat her characters gingerly. The era is not one where only sunshine and happiness happens. Life, at the time, is short and always a risk.
The fictional Fae’s Landing, Michigan is 40 miles from Detroit. The author is from Dearborn (considerably closer to Detroit than 40 miles). The town in which I grew up is 30 miles from Detroit ,though if the author gives us the direction of Fae’s Landing from Detroit, I missed it. There is a sense of familiarity to this reader and a feeling of an author writing a setting she has researched quite thoroughly. Mourning’s worry about wagon-climbing snakes (relayed as a tongue-in-cheek teasing of Olivia) had me smiling and hoping that if Michigan were a reality for them, they would do well. [easyazon-link asin=”1493652451″ locale=”us”]Olivia, Mourning: Book 1 of the Olivia Series (Volume 1)[/easyazon-link] is a very vivid novel with a strong feeling of authenticity and an engaging plot and characters.
There is something that I am not fond of in this novel. I am quite busy with reviews and requests and now I must buy the next book in this series to find out what happens to Olivia, Mourning and the characters they meet along the way. That is not to say that I would recommend [easyazon-link asin=”1493652451″ locale=”us”]Olivia, Mourning: Book 1 of the Olivia Series (Volume 1)[/easyazon-link] for everyone. My father would view it as a historical soap and when I broached reading it, he would not entertain the idea. He read James A. Michener’s family saga epics years ago and found them entertaining, but consuming. He’s not willing to make that investment again at this time and expressed skepticism that he would enjoy something that sounds so soapy. I didn’t find this novel so much soapy as dramatic. Everything that happens, no matter how extreme, has a logical starting point. If you like historical sagas, pick up [easyazon-link asin=”1493652451″ locale=”us”]Olivia, Mourning: Book 1 of the Olivia Series (Volume 1)[/easyazon-link] and give it a try.
Read on excerpt and buy Olivia Mourning (Olivia Series Book 1) by Yael Politis on
Read a review of the follow-up Whatever Happened to Morning Free (Olivia Series Book 2).
Yael Politis grew up in Dearborn, Michigan and has lived for many years in Israel. Politis has also written [easyazon-link asin=”B00D1CU62Q” locale=”us”]The Lonely Tree[/easyazon-link] and the second novel in the Olivia series, [easyazon-link asin=”B00H0H39JA” locale=”us”]The Way the World Is (The Olivia Series)[/easyazon-link].