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16 of 16 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A brilliant work of historical fiction
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...
Published 19 months ago by David Heald

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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars many ordinary Cretans suffered terribly as a consequence of that support
A very interesting tale of how the island of Crete was invaded and occupied by the German army during WW2. Some fought back or supported their own partisans or remnants of the British army who went to live in the hills and carried out guerilla warfare; many ordinary Cretans suffered terribly as a consequence of that support.
There is also the tragic story of what...
Published 10 days ago by M. Smith


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16 of 16 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A brilliant work of historical fiction, 6 Feb 2013
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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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10 of 10 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Gripping and Engaging, 11 May 2013
By 
Mrs. C. Colbert (Blackburn, Lancashire, UK) - See all my reviews
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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
5.0 out of 5 stars One of the best books I have read in a very long time..., 19 Feb 2013
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Petra "I love to read" "book addict!!!" (Northern Ireland) - See all my reviews
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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..
Though this is a book of fiction, one of the reasons why I loved reading this masterpiece so much was with each turn of the page I felt I was physically in Crete as the descriptions were so open and vivid I could see the beauty of the island through the author's words which with so much clarity she painted the scenes she seen through her words. It was clear through her writing her love for the island of Crete and its people.
As the hidden secrets are spilled along with the memories of Penny, Yolanda we also have the memories of Rainer Brecht who is not like all the other Germans who are only happy when they are dealing pain but who has a conscience but has also fell for Penny and will enter her life in the most unsuspected way and play a main part of this wonderful book.
Another reason why this book was one of my favourites as not only has the author written a book in which the constant pace of the storyline did not slow at any time I was totally addicted to the adventures of the characters but for the first time I fully understand why Crete was so important to Hitler and why Germany wanted to control it. I now understand why the Cretans fought for their land the way they did, and how the hills which stand so proud in the background hold so much history within its caves and how those who fled from the German's would rather hide in cold caves and risk death by cold, starvation etc. than face the death camps. How there was those who laid down their lives for their homeland because they loved the island so much and what the actual history of this holiday island really meant to this proud island of people. The book indeed was a work of fiction but its historical detail was excellent and I learned so much from reading it.
I highly recommend The Girl Under the Olive Tree by Leah Fleming as not only a wonderful read but one which will keep you reading until you find out what become of Penny and all those she has met on her many adventures. But you will also see an Island which has suffered under the hand of man while its heritage was destroyed all on the name of Power and greed.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars great read, 16 Feb 2013
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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
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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
By 
Mrs. A. M. Fowle "bookworm" (Rugby England) - See all my reviews
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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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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Kindle Book., 21 Feb 2013
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My wife is reading it and loves it. A good story, well told. Five stars! She has read several Leah Fleming books and enjoyed them all.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars good cretan story, 19 Feb 2013
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having been to crete i enjoyed the book because my wife &i could relate to the story and the area a good gripping story
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars What a read........, 17 Feb 2013
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I could not stop reading until the final word then I felt lost as if a door had closed, out of the many books I have read, very few have left me feeling like that. It should be made into a film. One of the best books I ever read and I have read hundreds.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars many ordinary Cretans suffered terribly as a consequence of that support, 12 Sep 2014
By 
M. Smith (Merseyside) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: The Girl Under the Olive Tree (Paperback)
A very interesting tale of how the island of Crete was invaded and occupied by the German army during WW2. Some fought back or supported their own partisans or remnants of the British army who went to live in the hills and carried out guerilla warfare; many ordinary Cretans suffered terribly as a consequence of that support.
There is also the tragic story of what happened to the Jewish community who had lived peacefully on the island for a long time before the German invasion.
Those elements of the book are clearly based on factual events and deserve to be re-told.
However, the book is very badly written and would have benefited from a proper editing. The constant changes from the past to the present day were irritating and unnecessary and made the tale difficult to follow at times. This detracted from the underlying story.
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The Girl Under the Olive Tree
The Girl Under the Olive Tree by Leah Fleming (Paperback - 6 Jun 2013)
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