Jan 25, 12
Read from January 22 to 25, 2012
If you take the Tailor of Panama, add a sprinkle of Lawrence of Arabia, introduce rich and memorable characters, a modern concern about water scarcity, and bring up the speed, you will get Olives – A Violent Romance by Alexander McNabb.
McNabb skillfully managed to keep the reader as the outsider that Paul continued to be until the very end in a country he did not understand, yet was inadvertently in love with almost from the first pages, or days.
The appeal of the East with its intoxicating warmth and deep-rooted traditions pulled Paul in, but was constantly contrasted with the stealth of calculating decision-making, intrigue and politics. Akin to Lawrence, Paul remains until the very end a westerner, who fails to understand fully the consequences of his actions. Although he feels that he has become one of the locals, he is not one of them, and he will never be able to fully feel the convictions of his Jordanian love.
Overall, Olives manages to bring to light many complex issues in a seemingly succinct, simple story of love and loss. Love of a woman, of a country, of a land. Loss of independence, of power, of resources.
The image of the lonely farm, with its olive tress, and a woman who has spent a life of hardship trying to protect it, is the strongest image of hope, but also of volatility of human existence that will be coming back to me long after the last page of the book is turned over.