Becoming Olive W.: The Women of Campbell County Family Saga Book 1
S. Lee Fisher
RNS Publishing (2021)
Reviewed by Tammy Ruggles for Reader Views (01/2022)
“Becoming Olive W.: The Women of Campbell County: Family Saga Book 1,” by the award-winning S. Lee Fisher, is an excellent family drama novel you will become gloriously lost in.
Meet Olive Westchester, who lives in Western Pennsylvania in 1905. Being valued and recognized by others is important to her, but her family ignores her following the death of her mother. She does have an older brother, Fred, who stands by her side and loves her, regardless. Olive is smart, beautiful, and stubborn; ready to stake her claim in the world, but can the world handle her? Society is fearful and contemptuous of a woman with such ability. When her eighth-grade teacher expels her, Olive is shocked, and maybe even more shocked that her father doesn’t lift a finger to help her get back in. Rather, he encourages her to do what most women of her era do: marry a rich man. But tragedy intervenes, and she turns to someone who’s infatuated with her looks. She makes a choice that may alter her life and who she’s meant to be. What becomes of her grand hopes and dreams?
Fisher invites us into Olive’s world, and we gladly go there, soaking up the settings, the era, the characters, and the story. Her writing is personal and strong and has her finger on the pulse of driven women with character and purpose, but also on the challenges they face, as with Olive. I like the multi-faceted approach this author has, showing all sides of a person or the issue at hand. It’s as if you are in Olive’s shoes, and you ask yourself what you would do in a situation like this.
There is a definite dark side to this saga, but that’s what makes it compelling, at least for me. You watch Olive come of age, and you wonder what she will think, say, or do next, and that’s half the fun. The story spans about 13 years, from the time Olive is age 3, until she’s about 16, against the backdrop of World War I. You feel as if you are in good hands with Fisher’s writing. You trust that she will take you to the next thing with authenticity and personality. There are small moments and huge moments. Characters you will like, characters you will dislike—all satisfying.
“Becoming Olive W.: The Women of Campbell County: Family Saga Book 1”, by S. Lee Fisher, is the first in what promises to be a sweeping saga of several generations, so get to know these characters inside and out. The drama, conflict, suspense, triumph, and tragedies are as realistic as they are entertaining—tackling social issues in a dramatic and effective way.