Root, Petal, Thorn by Ella Joy Olsen

Title:  Root, Petal, Thorn
Author:  Ella Joy Olsen
Publisher:  Kensington Publishing Corp.
Release Date:  September, 2016
Genre: Literary Fiction

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.

Ivy Baygren has two great loves in her life: her husband, Adam, and the bungalow they buy together in one of the oldest neighborhoods in Salt Lake City, Utah. From the moment she and Adam lay eyes on the  home, Ivy is captivated by its quaint details—the old porch swing, ornate tiles, and especially  an heirloom rose bush bursting with snowy white blossoms.  Called the Emmeline Rose for the home’s original owner, it seems yet another sign that this place will be Ivy’s happily-ever-after…Until her dreams are shattered by Adam’s unexpected death.

Striving to be strong for her two children, Ivy decides to tackle the home-improvement projects she and Adam once planned. Day by day, as she attempts to rebuild her house and her resolve, she uncovers clues about previous inhabitants, from a half-embroidered sampler to buried wine bottles. And as Ivy learns about the women who came before her—the young Mormon torn between her heart and anti-polygamist beliefs, the Greek immigrant during World War II, a troubled single mother in the 1960s—she begins to uncover the lessons of her own journey. For every story has its sadness, but there is also the possibility of blooming again, even stronger and more resilient than before…

Five women, one house and a century of stories that connects them. True, that connection lies mainly in that one house, but as each of their stories unfolds, we see how that connection had bound them.  I didn't know what to expect beyond the pages of the beautiful cover, nor I make it a habit of reading the synopsis.  The different perspectives in each chapter gave us a little of each women, providing us a glimpse of who they are and the struggles they've encountered. I'm surprised by how quickly I breezed through each chapter, each story and finally to the end of the book. It's a quick read, and I enjoyed it for the most part. Each women's voice was unmistakable, not all likable, but you almost feel like they can be stand-alone stories, but they aren't. Also, certain areas were illogical, but for the most part flows. Would I recommend Root, Petal, Thorn? Absolutely. For a history fan, as well as a booknerd that loves a good story that expend hope to its readers, this debut novel by Ella Joy Olsen will not disappoint.

Disclaimer: I received a free ARC of this book from the author/publisher. I was not required to write a positive review, and have not been compensated for this. This is my honest opinion.

For my review policy, please see my Disclosure page.



Ella Joy Olsen lives in Salt Lake City, Utah, in a century old brick bungalow with her husband and three children. She has spent nearly a decade on the Board of Directors for the Salt Lake City Public Library system (and even more years browsing the stacks), and is a member of Women's Fiction Writers and the best book club ever, (SLC Bibliophiles). 

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  1. Thank you, Annie, for including me in your line-up of fantastic novels. I'm so pleased you read and enjoyed Root, Petal, Thorn! Ella


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