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Root, Petal, Thorn

3.80  ·  Rating details ·  474 ratings  ·  143 reviews
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
ebook, 320 pages
Published August 30th 2016 by Kensington
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Jennifer ~ TarHeelReader
Five generations of women, some unrelated, share the same home in Sugar House, Utah. The most recent resident, Ivy, tries to piece together the history of the house. Each of the women have their own heartaches and struggles, and through their strength they make amends. This book started a little stronger for me than how it finished; however, it remained enjoyable throughout. The author writes well, and I look forward to reading more from her.
Vanessa S.
I won this through a Goodreads Giveaway, and what a great debut novel it is! The story interweaves the lives of five women who all share a home in common, and the house is a linking thread throughout the book. Ella Joy Olsen did really well creating unique voices and personalities for each of the women, and the side characters were also enjoyable and memorable. There is a wonderful mixture of happy, sad, and simply human moments in the story, all of which make the women relatable and real. I enj ...more
I received this book yesterday, hardly put it down and finished it up earlier today. It's that good.

We start out with Ivy in the present day. Her husband Adam was killed recently, leaving her with two children to raise alone and try to pick up the pieces of her life in her 'spare' time. While she works on remodeling projects she and Adam had started or planned, she finds 'Easter eggs', or mementos of previous female residents of the house, spanning from 1913 when the house was built until the 'p
Jul 02, 2016 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I am so fond of this book, for so many reasons. I love that it explores the history of the area I happen to live in. I love that it focuses on multiple generations of inhabitants within the walls of one historical home. I love the humanity and heart of it. And I think I love this new author. So exciting. I will be looking for more from her in the years to come!
Aug 15, 2016 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Ivy Baygren has lost her husband and does not know how she will be able to carry on. She cannot get out of bed, her children have contacted her brother their uncle to try and coax her back into the land of the living. As she tries to rebuild her life by trying to finish the “home improvement” projects Adam had started and never finished she becomes interested in the history of her house and those who have lived there before her. As she learns more about those who helped make her house what it is ...more
Theresa Alan
May 11, 2016 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This is a beautifully written book, told from five different generations of women who live in the same house over the course of one hundred years.

It begins in the present day with Ivy, who is mourning the death of her husband, who was killed in a car accident. As part of trying to deal with her pain, she finishes the house renovation projects she had been working on alongside her husband. This leads to small discoveries about the people who lived in the house before them.

As readers, we go back
Susan Peterson
May 11, 2016 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Riveting, emotional story

Root, Petal, Thorn is a sweeping story about five amazing women who had lived in the same house; beginning with Emmeline, who lived there with her sister and father in 1913, and ending with Ivy, its current resident. Ivy is grieving the sudden loss of her husband, trying to get her house in order and her life back on track. When she discovers a needlepoint, old photographs, and other relics left behind by the house's previous residents, she is determined to know their st
Ella Olsen
Dec 11, 2015 rated it it was amazing  ·  (Review from the author)  ·  review of another edition
I am the author of this novel, and yes I did purchase it and read it again on my Kindle. Of course, I will give it five stars. I will say that reading Root, Petal, Thorn on the e-reader, just like all of the other "actual" books out there, was a surreal experience. I cried in the right places, but I won't lie, there were parts where I wanted to edit, to delete, to change phrasing, and to throw the Kindle against the wall - because I can't. It's out there for the world to see and I wrote it to th ...more
Sharon Huether
I won this book through Goodreads First-Reads. Thank you Goodreads for picking my name for this book.
I have loved the story.
After Ivy Baygren was widowed, her brother Stephen suggested she write a list of things of importance to get her mind off her grief.
She decides to finish some small projects around her old home. There she finds some clues to the history of the house. Then she contacts the local historical society for their help.
All the people that lived there had interesting lives and thei
Leslie Lindsay
Jun 20, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
What an amazing read! Five fascinating women. The same historic home. One hundred years.

Interconnected stories of love, courage, and heartbreak.

I absolutely fell in love with the premise of ROOT, PETAL, THORN (forthcoming from Kensington August 30, 2016). Ella Joy Olsen writes beautifully, tracing the lives of Emmeline, Cora, Bitsy, Lainey, Eris, and Ivy through tumultuous times, from two World Wars (the first inhabitant of the house is Emmeline, 1913), the Great Depression, Korean war, Vietn
Aug 03, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 4-stars, netgalley
Review also found at

I received an advanced copy of this book from the publisher Kensington via Netgalley in exchange for an honest review. The expected publication date is August 30th, 2016.

I am in complete and utter disbelief that this novel is a debut for Ella Joy Olsen. The way that the multiple stories intertwine seamlessly is not something you would expect from a rookie novel. The way that she capture the emotion of each and every woman featured in
It's always a joy to discover a debut author who brings characters to life on the page. Ella Joy Olsen, in a style that reminds me of Sandra Dallas, brings five women and a house to life in Root, Petal, Thorn.

Five women, one house, one century. Ivy Baygren had hoped to renovate and love her house on Downington Avenue in Salt Lake City. But, when her husband, Adam, collapsed and died, something in Ivy died as well. One month later, she's on the verge of collapse when her panicked children call he
May 11, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This is a fantastic book about love and loss and connections to past generations. One line in the book (from Ivy's list of how to survive) sums the novel up for me: "Understand there is a little sad in every story."

As the novel begins, Ivy is waking up and realizing, once again, that her husband Adam is dead. He was killed in a car accident and Ivy is having difficulty in accepting his death. Ivy and Adam lived in an old house with their two children and Adam spent a lot of time doing upgrades t
Jill Anderson
Jan 06, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: wfwa
If you have ever lived in an old home, this book will give you a new perspective of that house. It unfolds stories from five women who have lived in the home over the decades, artfully arranging the highs and lows in their lives.

I loved reading the history of different decades, taking us back to the turn of the 20th century, through the destitute years of WWII, and the psychedelic 1960's. The current owner of the home is struggling to get through a painful loss, and part of her therapy becomes
Jun 27, 2016 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
What a beautiful book! Couldn't put it down. Loved the idea that this house has "seen" so many stories. I wish I knew such a history of my home. No matter what the decade that the author covered I felt like I could relate to their stories. It left me wanting to know more about their lives and what happened to them. My teenage daughter read it as well and loved it. I was relieved that there was no profanity in the novel. Just a delight! ...more
Jan 27, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
"I was a small part of a much larger story, connected through these women to something timeless and powerful." This sums up Ivy's story and her connection to four other amazing women all connected by the Craftsman style home on Downington Avenue in Salt Lake City, Utah.

Typically, in a story told by multiple narrators, I find myself invested in one timeline more than the others. But not in this case, I was invested in all five of the women's stories. I recommend this book for fans of women's fi
Aug 16, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Grief stricken from the sudden loss of husband Adam, Ivy tackles home improvement projects as a way to deal with the pain and discovers items left behind by the past inhabitants of her century old home. What will she find out about Emmeline (1913), Bitsy (1933), Eris (1944), and Lainey (1968)? Do the five women have more in common than just an address?

"Every house I remodel and every person who lived there had a story... it makes me feel less significant and somehow less... alone."

Told from five
Trina Eyring
Jun 26, 2016 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Root, Petal, Thorn is one of the most compelling novels I have read in a long time. The essence of the characters stayed with me for days after finishing it. The main characters are complex, authentic, and relatable. Their common bond, living in the same house at different times over a century, was exceptionally unique. These women were dramatically different from each other but their struggles and strengths served as a reminder to me of our connectedness and similarities to each other. I began ...more
Christine Moore
Sep 22, 2016 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: netgalley
I would like to thank NetGalley and Kensington Books for allowing me to read and review this wonderful book. The story is about Ivy and her husband Adam. They buy a wonderful old home and raise their family there. Unexpectedly Adam is killed and Ivy has to learn to go on for herself and her children. She finishes all the home improvements her and Adam had started. She then starts to research all the other women and their families who lived in the house before her. It is told by the perspective o ...more
Jul 03, 2016 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I thoroughly enjoyed this book! The author so beautifully weaves the stories of six women with a historical backdrop that spans over one hundred years all with one thing in common - a house. I loved thinking about the concept of this common element in each of their very different lives. The author also does a great job developing the characters. Several of the characters' stories stayed with me for weeks and weeks after reading. I'm taking note of this author and will definitely read her next bo ...more
Susan Schild
Oct 01, 2016 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Enjoyed this story of the emotional journeys - and growth - of these remarkable women. Characters are vivid, plot had depth and the description of each woman's time in history grounds the story. Look forward to the next from this talented writer. ...more
Mar 30, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: book-club
This book was written by a local author and takes place in my neighborhood (Sugar House). I heard about it in our little neighborhood journal and loved the premise - it takes you through the stories of all the women who have lived in a house since it was built in the early 20th century. I'm obsessed with old houses, and think often about the people who lived in them - I want to know their stories. With this being a local first-time author, though, I went into the book with high hopes and low exp ...more
May 24, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Right up front, this gets an extra star for being local and hitting me where I live. A woman lives in a bungalow on Downington Avenue in Salt Lake City and learns about the previous inhabitants of her house after tragedy strikes. It resonates with location, remodeling, and curiosity about the previous owner of your place that did something crazy to the house. Having lived in one of these bungalows for a time and recognizing the locales, I really enjoyed this book.
"Understand there is a little sa
Aug 21, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I love the idea that there's a little sad in every story...that "every rose has its thorn" (in the words of Poison). Ivy's husband, Adam, died in an accident. She is mourning his loss and her brother helps her create a list of steps to help her move through the grieving process. As part of one step, she begins to research the lives lived in her Sugarhouse home. Slowly, she begins to unravel the joys and the sorrows experienced by the women who lived there before her. I was impressed that Olsen w ...more
Orly Konig
Feb 09, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
The characters in this incredible debut stole my heart and Ella Olsen’s beautiful writing kept me breathless. It was one of those rare books that I couldn’t wait to find out what happened but didn’t want to get to the end. A book that will stay with you long after you finish.
Jun 12, 2018 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Not my favorite but it’s good and has some interesting themes. It was really fun to read about a neighborhood I am so familiar with.
Aug 19, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
"Understand that there is a little sad in every story". I loved these characters. I loved Ivy's brother. Everyone needs a brother like him. I loved the history and the raw honesty of dealing with the sad in your story. Great book club pick.. ...more
Maggie Maxfield
This book had to overcome a few big obstacles to be enjoyable to me: 1) It's a debut novel by a bibliophile 2) It's a romance novel (very pathos heavy) set in Utah, with Mormons in it. Including Mormons and Mormon theology is a very tricky task and could go either way for me. Here are the reasons I ended up loving the book: 1) I like Utah, and I liked the descriptions of Sugar House. 2) Ultimately, the writing did not hinder the story. 3) Ivy's quest for deeper meaning does not lead her to chang ...more
Colleen Turner
Aug 18, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Find my full review at

I'm not ashamed to admit I was instantly drawn to Root, Petal, Thorn by the cover. It is just so beautiful, I couldn't help but want to learn more about it. Then reading the synopsis, and loving stories with multiple timelines as much as I do, I knew I needed to read this book. What could Ivy learn from her home and it's previous inhabitants that could possibly help her get over the grief of losing her husband? It turns out quite a lot
The fact that this book was ever on my reading radar is proof that Goodreads works! I would probably never have even know this book existed except that I was peeking through a friend of a friends list of books she had read. I noticed she gave this book a 5 star rating. She didn't seem the type that gave anything and everything 5 stars just because she finished it. So I clicked the link and read a few reviews. I was interested so I marked the "to read" tab and figured if the chance ever came abou ...more
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Ella Joy Olsen lives in Salt Lake City, Utah, a charming town tucked at the base of the massive Wasatch Mountains. She is the mom of three (young adult) kids, the mama of two dogs, and the wife of one patient husband.

Her novels include: the Audible Original BIRDIE & JAY, the Historical Novel Society Editors’ Choice ROOT, PETAL,THORN, and the 15 Bytes Finalist WHERE THE SWEET BIRD SINGS.

She teach

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