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13 of 14 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The best book I have read in 2000!
I cannot recommend this novel highly enough, and would encourage anyone who can appreciate a well written novel to buy this book. Considering this is Janet Fitch's first novel, it is an amazing piece of literature which keeps you spellbound from beginning to end.
The narrator, Astrid, tells her story of being brought up by a hippie artistic and headstrong mother who...
Published on 3 Dec 2000 by OllyOctopus

versus
2.0 out of 5 stars I think I hated this book, but I'm not sure...
I don't know how I feel about this book. I certainly didn't love it, I can't even say I enjoyed it all that much, but I kept reading it because I couldn't put it down. Not in the 'OMG must finish this can't stop' way, more like a 'bad boyfriend' kind of way. I found it pretentious and self-indulgent and cliched, exactly the kind of wishy-washy claptrap that Oprah peddles...
Published on 21 Sep 2008 by C. Ball


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13 of 14 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The best book I have read in 2000!, 3 Dec 2000
This review is from: White Oleander (Paperback)
I cannot recommend this novel highly enough, and would encourage anyone who can appreciate a well written novel to buy this book. Considering this is Janet Fitch's first novel, it is an amazing piece of literature which keeps you spellbound from beginning to end.
The narrator, Astrid, tells her story of being brought up by a hippie artistic and headstrong mother who kills her boyfriend out of revenge. When Ingrid is imprisoned, the story moves on to Astrid's experiences in foster care. The neglect and abuse Astrid receives are described without being oversentimental and therefore, the reader is engrossed and completely torn by these scenes.
the fact that Astrid survives the experiences shows her strength of character which is an excellent reason to read the book. However, I was also facinated by the descriptions of the American care system as well.
If you only read one book next year, read White Oleander.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Uncomfortable yet compelling reading, 29 Feb 2004
By A Customer
I heard about White Oleander while watching Oprah: she had it as one of the books in her book club and gave away copies to the audience members on the show. I only caught the end, but the book had obviously affected her a great deal, so when I saw it some time later I bought it. The cover showed beautiful blonde women and they stared at me for along time before I finally picked up the book.
Once having started it, however, I could hardly put it down. So far removed from my own life, the story of Astrid as she makes her life journey from the side of a beautiful but murdering mother through a succession of disconcerting families as a child in care, was at times difficult to bear. Yet it was a story I felt I should read and it is in that light I am recommending White Oleander: a book which simply must be read. Uncomfortable at times, compelling always.
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9 of 10 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Written with perseptive beauty., 22 Oct 2003
By 
White Oleander is a passionate, hypnotic and dangerous novel, exploring un-spoken themes of today's tangled world.
Janet Fitch tells the moving and complicated story of Astrid, a child raised in a potent world of beauty and destruction. Her mother, a twisted and un-earthly artist raises her daughter into this potent world, before emotionally torturing and murdering her former lover, thus leaving Astrid alone and vulnerable. “White Oleander” explores Astrid’s emotional journey through countless foster homes, where she faces incest, murder and, above all, her own powerful mind.
But is not just the twisted, shocking plot which makes this novel un-missable. Fitch writes with tragic passion and charisma, making the characters and their broken worlds dance with life and colour. Each different part of Astrid’s slow clamber to adulthood evokes such empathy and impact, it is virtually impossible not to become addicted.
Although the plot at times becomes very complicated, this book explores love, loss, lust and life, looking at how we can as humans adapt and change over time.
However unbelievable it may seem, this story somehow really made an impact to me personally, making me look at the situations around me in a different way. Fitch makes the book especially enjoyable, by combining a high lexis and sentence structure with beautifully descriptive use of language. Her style makes the whole novel exceptionally pleasurable to read, as her selective use of verbs and adjectives helps us as readers to build up a vivid picture of the unfolding and intriguing life of a strong young ‘lady’. The book rapidly changes from an everyday story into a colourful bible for the aspiring artist in all of us.
In short, I think “White Oleander” is an original and wonderful piece of modern literature. It combines everything I enjoy in a book: wonderfully likable characters, a compelling plot and bags of stylish language technique. Throughout the book, I didn’t want the novel to end. I strongly recommend this compelling book to all e readers, as I think everybody should experience Janet Fitch’s captivating account of life and how truly lucky we are.
Review by Heidi-Victoria Ireland,
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Spellbinding vibrant journey�, 25 Nov 2002
By A Customer
This review is from: White Oleander (Paperback)
I was given a pack of rather samey books recently of which White Oleander was one. I left them stacked up and thought I would read them at some point but had no idea when...then the flu struck and these books became my only source of entertainment for a week or two. As soon as I picked up White Oleander, I was entranced by the vibrancy, and stark beauty of Astrid's life before and after her mother's incarceration.
This story has a remarkable thread, one you hope you can witness forever...hoping the book wont end, but end it does! Unlike many books, where promising beginnings lead to dull middles and ends, the splendor of White Oleander continues until the end, inspiring creative thought and feelings of rapture!!!! Just wonderful!
More please Janet!
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Heartbreaking, inspiring and empowering, 18 Feb 2004
I picked this novel up in a charity shop, having only heard of it previously as an item on Oprah's book list. It was the best 50p I ever spent. It's an enthralling story of the daughter of a very vain and selfish woman who murders a former lover. Astrid's life in foster care after her mother goes to prison is heartbreaking. She suffers such cruelty but manages to keep her head above water and learn many lessons it would take most of us a lifetime to learn. Her strength is inspiring. It's an eye-opening look at what can happen to an innocent child when a parent lives only for themselves. I didn't want the book to end.
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5 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Stunning, 5 April 2003
By 
LisaR (Manchester) - See all my reviews
This review is from: White Oleander (Paperback)
Put simply, White Oleander is an amazing book. I read it because after reading some of the 'lists' on Amazon, I realised that many people who had appreciated similar books to me had enjoyed it. I was not prepared however for the intensity and wonder of this novel, and am thoroughly surprised that Janet Fitch has not written more novels. For its 500 or so pages, White Oleander is firstly a tiny looking book, and more to the point, one that can be read in a fairly short amount of time, mainly due to the fact that the reader is unable to put it down.
Firstly, the language is amazing, thoughtful and thought provoking. Astrid, the main character, has a deep relationship based on the admiration and dependence of her mother, a poet. She grows up, fatherless, with her mother the poet as her only guardian and, being intelligent, and eager to learn herself, she naturally inherits and develops her mother's talent for use of words and perceptive outlook of the world. All is going swimmingly until her mother is incarcerated for life, and Astrid's safe and almost predictable world is taken away and she is forced to face up to the reality of life by passing from foster home to foster home, where in each case she gains an insight into the everyday life of a huge variety of families and institutions.
The way Fitch enables the reader to thoroughly know and understand Astrid is impeccable, and unlike many novels where several characters means the reader is confused, in White Oleander, the characters and families are so well defined that the reader understands exactly how each has played a part in the life education of Astrid. Each of the many characters is totally distinguished and essential to the story. Another huge merit of Fitch's work is the way Astrid grows from child to adult through the book, with no part of life missed, yet the story flows so naturally that the reader hardly notices this is happening. The reader is, in this way, able to thoroughly relate to Astrid and her experiences.
I would recommend this book to absolutely anyone who appreciates beautiful and insightful language and a deeper insight into life experience.
Altogether, a thoroughly satisfying reading experience.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Stunning, 2 May 2003
By 
LisaR (Manchester) - See all my reviews
This review is from: White Oleander (Paperback)
Put simply, White Oleander is an amazing book. I read it because after reading some of the ‘lists’ on Amazon, I realised that many people who had appreciated similar books to me had enjoyed it. I was not prepared however for the intensity and wonder of this novel, and am thoroughly surprised that Janet Fitch has not written more novels. For its 500 or so pages, White Oleander is firstly a tiny looking book, and more to the point, one that can be read in a fairly short amount of time, mainly due to the fact that the reader is unable to put it down.
Firstly, the language is amazing, thoughtful and thought provoking throughout. Astrid, the main character, has a deep relationship based on her mother, a poet, based on admiration and dependence. She grows up, fatherless, with her mother, the poet, as her only guardian and, being intelligent, and eager to learn herself, she naturally inherits and develops her mother’s talent for use of words and perceptive outlook of the world. All is going swimmingly until her mother is incarcerated for life, and Astrid’s safe and almost predictable world is taken away and she is forced to face up to the reality of life by passing from foster home to foster home, where in each case she gains an insight into the everyday life of a huge variety of families and institutions.
The way Fitch enables the reader to thoroughly know and understand Astrid is impeccable, and unlike in many novels where several characters means the reader is confused, in White Oleander, the characters and families are so well defined that the reader understands exactly how each has played a part in the life education of Astrid. Each of the many characters is totally distinguished and essential to the story. Another huge merit of Fitch’s work is the way Astrid grows from child to adult through the book, with no part of life missed, yet the story flows so naturally that the reader hardly notices this is happening. The reader is, in this way, able to thoroughly relate to Astrid and her experiences.
I would recommend this book to absolutely anyone who appreciates beautiful and insightful language and a deeper insight into life experience.
To add to the joy of discovering this book, which I could hardly put down, I wrote a quick email to Janet Fitch after finding her address on her website, and received a wonderful reply.
Altogether, a thoroughly satisfying reading experience.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Stunning, 5 April 2003
By 
LisaR (Manchester) - See all my reviews
This review is from: White Oleander (Paperback)
Put simply, White Oleander is an amazing book. I read it because after reading some of the ‘lists’ on Amazon, I realised that many people who had appreciated similar books to me had enjoyed it. I was not prepared however for the intensity and wonder of this novel, and am thoroughly surprised that Janet Fitch has not written more novels. For its 500 or so pages, White Oleander is firstly a tiny looking book, and more to the point, one that can be read in a fairly short amount of time, mainly due to the fact that the reader is unable to put it down.
Firstly, the language is amazing, thoughtful and thought provoking throughout. Astrid, the main character, has a deep relationship based on her mother, a poet, based on admiration and dependence. She grows up, fatherless, with her mother, the poet, as her only guardian and, being intelligent, and eager to learn herself, she naturally inherits and develops her mother’s talent for use of words and perceptive outlook of the world. All is going swimmingly until her mother is incarcerated for life, and Astrid’s safe and almost predictable world is taken away and she is forced to face up to the reality of life by passing from foster home to foster home, where in each case she gains an insight into the everyday life of a huge variety of families and institutions.
The way Fitch enables the reader to thoroughly know and understand Astrid is impeccable, and unlike in many novels where several characters means the reader is confused, in White Oleander, the characters and families are so well defined that the reader understands exactly how each has played a part in the life education of Astrid. Each of the many characters is totally distinguished and essential to the story. Another huge merit of Fitch’s work is the way Astrid grows from child to adult through the book, with no part of life missed, yet the story flows so naturally that the reader hardly notices this is happening. The reader is, in this way, able to thoroughly relate to Astrid and her experiences.
I would recommend this book to absolutely anyone who appreciates beautiful and insightful language and a deeper insight into life experience.
To add to the joy of discovering this book, which I could hardly put down, I wrote a quick email to Janet Fitch after finding her address on her website, and received a wonderful reply.
Altogether, a thoroughly satisfying reading experience.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Audio book version doesn't do "White Oleander" justice., 17 Aug 1999
By A Customer
This review is from: White Oleander (Audio Cassette)
As much as I love Oprah Winfrey, her voice is not appropriate to narrate this wonderful novel. I found the story to be captivating, but I was frequently distracted by Oprah's voice, which is rich and mature. The narrator of the book is supposed to be a teenage girl. I was also distracted by Oprah's voice characterizations of the other people in the novel. She frequently gave the other characters southern accents, even though the story takes place in California. This experience has taught me to buy the book and read it myself. "White Oleander" was one of the finest novels I have encountered. It is unfortunate that the editor for the audio version did not do his or her job.
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2.0 out of 5 stars I think I hated this book, but I'm not sure..., 21 Sep 2008
By 
C. Ball (Derbyshire) - See all my reviews
(VINE VOICE)    (TOP 500 REVIEWER)    (REAL NAME)   
This review is from: White Oleander (Paperback)
I don't know how I feel about this book. I certainly didn't love it, I can't even say I enjoyed it all that much, but I kept reading it because I couldn't put it down. Not in the 'OMG must finish this can't stop' way, more like a 'bad boyfriend' kind of way. I found it pretentious and self-indulgent and cliched, exactly the kind of wishy-washy claptrap that Oprah peddles to middle-class literati to make themselves feel better about themselves, and yet it's described as 'passionate, hypnotic and dangerous'. Please. It annoyed me every step of the way and I hated most of the characters. And yet I didn't hate the book. Hmm.
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White Oleander
White Oleander by Janet Fitch (Paperback - 16 Jan 2003)
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