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The Girl Under the Olive Tree [Paperback]

Leah Fleming
4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (133 customer reviews)
RRP: 6.99
Price: 3.85 & FREE Delivery in the UK on orders over 10. Details
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Book Description

6 Jun 2013
May1941 and the island of Crete is invaded by paratroopers from the air. After a lengthy fight, thousands of British and Commonwealth soldiers are forced to take to the hills or become escaping PoWs, sheltered by the Cretan villagers. Sixty years later, Lois West and her young son, Alex, invite feisty Great Aunt Pen to a special eighty-fifth birthday celebration on Crete, knowing she has not been back there since the war. Penelope George - formerly Giorgidiou - is reluctant to go but is persuaded by the fact it is the 60th anniversary of the Battle. It is time for her to return and make the journey she never thought she'd dare to. On the outward voyage from Athens, she relives her experiences in the city from her early years as a trainee nurse to those last dark days stranded on the island, the last female foreigner. When word spreads of her visit, and old Cretan friends and family come to greet her, Lois and Alex are caught up in her epic pilgrimage and the journey which leads her to a reunion with the friend she thought she had lost forever - and the truth behind a secret buried deep in the past...

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Product details

  • Paperback: 464 pages
  • Publisher: Simon & Schuster Ltd (6 Jun 2013)
  • Language: Unknown
  • ISBN-10: 0857204068
  • ISBN-13: 978-0857204066
  • Product Dimensions: 19.6 x 13 x 3.2 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (133 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 4,285 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

After careers in teaching, catering, running a market stall, stress management courses in the NHS as well as being a mother of four, Leah Fleming found her true calling as a storyteller. She lives in the beautiful Yorkshire Dales but spends part of the year marinating her next tale from an olive grove on her favourite island of Crete.
She was short listed for the Romantic Novel of the Year in 1998 and for The People's Choice Pure Passion Award 2010 for Remembrance Day.
Her epic tales cover centuries and many generations with a strong sense of place and time. The Captain's Daughter, a Titanic drama won the 2012 Premio Roma Award for Translated Fiction. The Girl Under The Olive Tree has been translated into at least 4 languages. Her latest novel: The Postcard is out now.
Her website is where you can find out more and sign up for her newsletter.

Product Description


"'I enjoyed it enormously. It's a moving and compelling story about a lifetime's journey in search of the truth' (Rachel Hore) 'A born storyteller' (Kate Atkinson)" --This text refers to an alternate Paperback edition.

About the Author

Leah Fleming was born in Lancashire and is married with three sons and a daughter. She writes from an old farmhouse in the Yorkshire Dales and an olive grove in Crete.

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
14 of 14 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A brilliant work of historical fiction 6 Feb 2013
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
Crete is my wife's and my favourite island. Not only spectacularly beautiful, but crammed full of history, ancient and modern. We have learned a great deal about the German Invasion and Occupation on our visits there, and of the exploits of the daring British officers who worked with the partisans in the bloody guerilla war. And so we both agree that this novel, so well researched, captures brilliantly those days of occupation, including the terrible fate of the Island's Jews. One of those rare stories which captures the imagination from start to finish-right down to the final page. Will Rainer visit the Cotswolds again???
In short a really good read. Well done the author!
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8 of 8 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Gripping and Engaging 11 May 2013
By Mrs. C. Colbert VINE VOICE
Format:Kindle Edition
The story starts in 2001 as Penelope is undecided about facing her fears and going back to Crete where she endured "the best and worst of times indeed, savage cruelty, suffering, hunger and yet it was also the time of my life, a time filled with the exhilaration of danger and the overwhelming kindness of strangers. There were many things about that time that I could never tell anyone."

When she finally makes the journey with her family the story travels back and forth in time and we slowly build up a picture of Penelope's extraordinary life during the Second World War on Crete, of how she originally fled there from her home in Scotland to escape her mother's hopes of her marrying a title, when all she wanted was to be an archaeologist.

When Penelope helped an elderly Jewish man who had been beaten and robbed in the street she met her friend Yolanda and, together, they joined the Red Cross. She felt more at home in Greece than in England and when war broke out she helped the wounded soldiers.

It is then that her extraordinary story is told, some in flashbacks to her family, and some she keeps to herself.

I also found it interesting to hear another side of the story told from one of the German officers who were there at the same time as Penelope and who also travels to the 60th anniversary.

This story is about how ordinary people coped in difficult and challenging circumstances, how they lived and died, about courage, uncertainty and hope, good times and bad times and how they fell in love during the most appalling conditions they had to endure.

Penelope was a fabulous character, she was warm, brave, loyal, feisty and incredibly likeable.

Not a light and easy book to read as it deals with a sad subject, but I really enjoyed it and, particularly the latter part, I could not put it down.
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23 of 25 people found the following review helpful
By Petra "I love to read" TOP 500 REVIEWER VINE VOICE
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
The Girl under the Olive Tree by Leah Fleming for me was not only a fantastic book of fiction but the author showed through her wonderful descriptive writing what life was really like for the occupants of the island of Crete during the era of the Second World War.
The main character of the book is Penny a spirited young girl from Cheltenham whose mother has tried her best to turn into a lady but Penny has fought against her wishes as she is happiest when we meet her in 1936 in the mountains of Scotlands where the author is showing what kind of girl Penny really is.
The book first opens in 1941 in Crete as the sound of gunfire fills the air while the German army who will soon be the occupying force fall from the sky as they are parachuted in. There is one good man among the Germans who will be one of the main characters and his name is Rainer and he will become a part of Penny's life in the most unsuspecting way.
We then go back to the present day in 2001 sixty years from the battle when the Germans first entered Crete and Pen is now a retired nurse and her niece Lois wants to take Pen on a holiday to Crete to celebrate her 85th birthday. But Pen is reluctant to go as she knows she will have to face the past she has tried so hard to bury far back in the crevices of her mind. This holiday brings back many memories and as she remembers she narrates her own story of her time in Athens before she lands in Crete and the separate adventures which take her there..
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars great read 16 Feb 2013
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
Great book, one of the best I've read in a long time. Didn't want the book to end would like to see more of this story from the author.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Brilliant!!! 15 Feb 2013
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
I haven't finished the book yet but I can honestly say it's brilliant-one of the reasons because I can relate to the places mentioned in the story after holidaying in that area! Also my dad had friends that were POW's there and have heard him talk about some of the situations that occurred.
Normally I don't like books that are written in first person but this is very well written for it not to be noticed too much. It's also very good for it's historical aspect which I think is pretty true to what happened in those awful times.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A magnificent book 1 April 2013
It will be a long time before this book leaves my thoughts. I had no idea how Crete suffered during World war 2 before reading this work of fiction built on facts. It is truly a wonderful read though horrifying and haunting.It shows the incredible strentgh of human beings in the midst of the horror and mayhem of war. The best book I have read for a very long time.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars A great read!
Just read it, it's great! A major section of the book is set in WW2 and until I visited Crete in the summer, I was unable to picture how people could hide from the Germans in the... Read more
Published 1 day ago by Vicky L
5.0 out of 5 stars An amazing story of life and love and how impulsive decisions can last...
I loved this book it gave a real insight into the German occupation of Greece and in particular Crete during the second world war. Read more
Published 11 days ago by marie gamble
4.0 out of 5 stars Much recommended.
Once I got into this book I could not put it down. The storyline in Crete is gripping and its impressively well researched. Much recommended.
Published 15 days ago by Ms. K. Wharton
4.0 out of 5 stars the girl under the olive tree
great holiday read
Published 18 days ago by christine fernando
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
excellent service, would use again
Published 23 days ago by C MCKANNA-MAULKIN
5.0 out of 5 stars Great bit of history
Was as good as I expected and very interesting.
Published 29 days ago by C. Brooks
5.0 out of 5 stars History brought to life.
Interesting story line full of historical events that are hopefully unlikely to happen again. Human tragedy for so many and a lot that is not talked about. A good read.
Published 1 month ago by Ann White
4.0 out of 5 stars Four Stars
good read
Published 1 month ago by Mo.
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
Excellent transaction. Fantatic book.
Published 1 month ago by lorraine brown
5.0 out of 5 stars Great holiday read
I loved this book,a great holiday read! and have even kept it on my kindle to perhaps read again.
Published 1 month ago by Suffolk Jules
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