Orphan of the Olive Tree by Mirella Sichirollo Patzer

Secrets of two close families in 13th century Tuscany.

Carlo and Enrico are best friends who become blood brothers and betroth their first born to wed. Neither suspect there would be problems conceiving a child to fulfill their blood oath. But Enrico’s wife, Felicia, seeks help from a healer in her desperation to conceive. Carlo’s wife, Prudenza, becomes jealous of Felicia when she finally gives birth to twin sons, and spreads a vicious rumor that twins mean two fathers. This ruins Felicia’s reputation and marriage, and she harbors hatred for Prudenza.

Ironically, Prudenza becomes pregnant and has twin daughters. In order to avoid the truth of her lie, and not alienate her husband, she gives away one of her daughters – Olivia – the orphan of the olive tree.

Olivia is raised by nuns in a convent, until she falls in love with Luca, one of the twin sons of Enrico and Felicia. Luca’s twin, Lorenzo, falls in love with Giustina, the daughter Prudenza kept. Unfortunately, this is not the order of the blood oath, or is it?

So much happens in Orphan of the Olive Tree; there is the big secret of Prudenza’s daughter she keeps for many years; there are evil eye curses of medieval times, there’s love, hate, jealousy, friendship, good times, and bad times. All these struggles kept me captivated throughout the story, always being unpredictable.

The ending is left open-ended. I’m not sure if Mirella Sichirollo Patzer plans to write a sequel. Prudenza, the only villain in Orphan of the Olive Tree, is left paying her dues for her secret betrayal to both families. Olivia must serve a three month penance back at the convent she was brought up in for having a child before she was wed. I’m left wondering if the two shall meet, after all, she just found out this is her biological mother who gave her away. No one currently has compassion or forgiveness for Prudenza, but there are hints that only time will tell.

I absolutely loved reading Orphan of the Olive Tree. As always, I enjoy learning history by reading a well written novel. Mirella Sichirollo Patzer writes her story with such utmost passion that it permeates on every page of Orphan of the Olive Tree.

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