Sweet Olive, Trumpet and Vine Series #1
Lovely cozy, feel-good read with a southern settin
Big oil companies, small-town Louisiana setting, and a small community of artists combine in Sweet Olive, a book by Judy Christie that I greatly enjoyed. I've always been drawn to stories with a small-town setting and quirky characters, and would have to say that Judy shines at this. I easily connected with these characters and hope to see more of them in future books. Writing and characterization are strong, Marsh and Camille make compelling lead characters - but it's the ensemble cast within the artists' community that steals the show.
Oil-and-gas negotiator Camille Gardner must entice a group of rural landowners to sell their mineral rights and, instead, finds herself drawn to the folk art created by those same landowners. To oil companies, these people were a vital commodity in the race for gas production - and while Camille initially thought of them in terms of the number of acres they had to offer, soon they became real people to whom there were more important things in life than money.
Marsh, a lawyer representing the artists, was charming, handsome, and determined - yet "he wanted a chance to work more with everyday folks, people whose lives could be changed by the right champion at the right moment." Romance seemed secondary to plot, but Camille and Marsh being on opposite sides of the oil issue added good conflict to a sweet romance.
The artists' community - with their folk art that included metal sculpture, whirligigs, watercolors, glass, pottery, woodcarving, and oil paintings - are at the heart of this story. And it was Camille who became a catalyst for change in their lives, helping them to believe in their own abilities and discover a renewed passion for their art.
I loved how Judy used fiction to shine the light on two completely different attitudes toward money: those whose lives are motivated by greed, and those who realize some things are more important than money. "The beauty of their Louisiana land, earned through hard work and family tradition, would not be sacrificed for oil-company cash." The theme of God's provision is woven throughout the narrative, and that's something I never tire of being reminded of.
That God might have had a purpose in sending Camille to a town she never wanted to revisit made me smile as I thought of times I found myself thrust out of my comfort zone, only to eventually see God's hand in the situation. Camille's growing friendship with Ginny was one of my favorite parts, and it was through Ginny's leadership that the community pulled together - and therein lay their strength.
I fell in love with the Sweet Olive community and am eager to see where Judy takes us in the next book of the Trumpet & Vine series, Magnolia Market, which releases in the fall of 2014. Sweet Olive is a cozy, feel-good read that I thoroughly enjoyed and am glad to recommend.
This book was provided by BookSneeze and Zondervan in exchange for my honest review.
April 2, 2014
Sweet Southern Reading
I had the pleasure of reading Sweet Olive by Judy Christie for my most recent Booksneeze review. And now I have a new author to follow. I love it when that happens!
Camille Gardner heads to Samford, Louisiana to close an oil deal. She knows the oil business and feels confident she can get the job done - and then get out of Samford as quickly as possible. What she doesn't count on is falling in love with the people of the art community in Samford called Sweet Olive. She also never expected how returning to this tiny town, a place that holds painful memories for her, could do anything to heal her heart.
Judy Christie's writing is straight forward, easy to follow and fun. Her characters are believable, loveable, hateable and everything I generally hope to find in this type of fiction. This isn't a mystery, but there were enough twists to make it interesting and keep me guessing. I also learned a few things about the world of big oil.
I have always enjoyed reading new authors, especially ones who focus on a particular area. ChristieÃ¢ÂÂs focus in several of her works is in Louisiana, an area with which I am not familiar. IÃ¢ÂÂm looking forward to reading more by Judy Christie.
I was given a copy of this book by Booksneeze in exchange for my honest opinion. My opinions are all mine.
December 17, 2013
Sweet Olive is a sweet story!
While I've heard of Judy Christie before, Sweet Olive is the first of her books that I've read. I can assure you that it won't be the last. Camille arrives in Samford, Louisiana at the insistence of her uncle, who also happens to be her boss. Her job is to negotiate with a group of residents who are refusing to grant mineral rights to the gas and oil company that Camille represents. Camille assumes this will be a quick and straightforward job, but once she meets this unique group of residents, she realizes this will not be the usual job.
Sweet Olive is full of the sweet, southern, small town charm that I just love. Small towns often make the perfect setting, and Samford, Louisiana is no exception. There are plenty of unique townspeople, local politics, and jealousy that you wouldn't believe. And when Camille gets plopped down in the middle of it all, she begins to see what she's been missingÃ¢ÂÂfriends, faith, love.
Camille is the perfect "leading lady." I love that she had a career in a male-dominated industry. And boy is she feisty! She definitely knows what she wants and goes after it. I loved watching her heart change throughout the book as she made friends with various characters. Marsh was a great guy as well. I wasn't sure how their relationship was going to develop since they were on opposing sides of this intense case, but it was great to see their friendship grow naturallyÃ¢ÂÂdespite their differences. I absolutely loved all of the artists in the community. Reading about their art and their simple lifestyle made me curious to know more. I'm super excited to read more about this community in the rest of this series ... and I'd really like to visit in real life!
Sweet Olive is a great read. I'm glad I took the time to read it and look forward to more from Judy Christie! [4.5 stars]
I received a free copy of this book from Zondervan in exchange for my fair and honest review.
November 5, 2013
southern fiction a little confusing
Camille is a Ã¢ÂÂlandman.Ã¢ÂÂ Working for her uncle Scott, it is her job to talk people into selling him their gas and oil rights. She's been good at it, except for that one mistake. She was ready for the promised office in Houston but her uncle has asked her to do this one last field job in northern Louisiana. She'd do it because she and her mom owed so much to him.
Camille finds Sweet Olive to be a different community than she had expected, however. They are a loose association of artists and most of them aren't interested in the gas rights money. Camille has a heart for art too as she has always wanted to own an art gallery. Her heart gets in the way as the gas rights deal falls apart at the edges.
Add to the mix a handsome attorney representing the art community, a powerful senator who has money to be made on the deal, and his ambitious daughter who is also employed by Scott and, in fact, wants Camile's job, and you sort of have the novel's plot.
I found the novel to be a little confusing on two fronts. When the novel opens it is clear that there is quite a back story to the situation the characters are in today. I kept checking to make sure this was the first in the series because I was sure I was missing an earlier book. All of the back story comes out eventually but I think a few prologue pages of Ã¢ÂÂtwenty years agoÃ¢ÂÂ would have helped.
Secondly, I live on an island in the Pacific Northwest affectionately called Ã¢ÂÂThe Rock.Ã¢ÂÂ That's because that is all that is in the ground. I know absolutely nothing about mineral or gas rights. There's nothing in the ground here to have any rights to. I was hoping to learn about gas rights in reading this novel. I'm not sure I understand anything more about the topic now than I did before reading the novel. For example, the very last thing Camille did was go to the parish offices to verify the legal descriptions and surveys of the land. This was after she had already offered contracts to landowners and tried to identify nearby land for wells that might preserve the artist community. I would think verifying land ownership would have been the first thing a Ã¢ÂÂlandmanÃ¢ÂÂ would have done. Searching the legal descriptions last allows for a twist at the end of the story which makes for fun reading but, I would think, makes for poor Ã¢ÂÂlandmanÃ¢ÂÂ tactics. Near the end of the novel Camille says, Ã¢ÂÂThis has been the most confusing experience of my life.Ã¢ÂÂ (311) Camille, I know how you feel.
The romance part was fun. There is some humor in the book and you do learn a little about the south, but not as much as this northerner would have liked.
I received a complimentary copy of this book from the publisher for the purpose of this review.
November 2, 2013