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Customer Reviews

4.2 out of 5 stars35
4.2 out of 5 stars
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on 14 July 2007
I loved this book. It's an incredibly evocative, engaging and informative journey round the Mediterranean in search of the secrets and traditions of the olive. Carol travels by herself, sometimes to dangerous locations such as Libya and Lebanon but at all times her enthusiasm and passion for the olive shine through. Highly recommended.
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on 2 May 2008
A book to be savoured for its evocative language (which is rather less overtly dramatic than its predecessors in the Olive series), it is a read to be cherished, rather than wolfed down. The result is not a foodie's history of olive oil. It reminds us of the important part olives have played in providing light and sustenance for Western civilisation and, historically, as a symbol of peace. I found this history of the olive fascinating; the fleeting nature of the individual compared to ancient trees and agriculture, which are, paradoxically, threatened by the deadly power of mutual human hatred and destruction. The account is thought-provoking, veering between the idyllic and the scary to downright terrifying. It recounts the personal difficulties of a woman travelling alone (not always easy even in Europe or the USA, let alone in strict Muslim countries) and yet paints a sympathetic picture of so many who are involuntary victims of current Middle-East conflicts and divisions. It portrays vividly a journey that I doubt I would have the courage to undertake.
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on 24 November 2006
A tour de force from Carol Drinkwater in this, the fourth in her Olive series. The joy of this book is in the pen pictures that she creates of the unusual characters that she encounters on her journey. An inspiringly honest and "warts and all" look at her journey in pursuit of the origin of the first olive trees in cultivation. It is a refreshing read among some of the more saccharine tomes of her contemporary writers on life in the Mediterranean. Put your feet up and be transported.
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Overall, I enjoyed this book where Carol Drinkwater travels around the Mediteranean looking at countriees that grow olives. An olive farmer herself, her passion for the fruit is obvious, and her knowledge adds interest to her writing. Her style of writing is good, and she brings the countries to life, warts and all. Having been to many of the countries themselves, it was good to see them through another persons eyes. Why four stars then, rather than five. At times I thought that she was a little repetative, but don't let that put you off reading this, it is still a good book if you like reading about other countries and cultures.
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on 26 October 2010
I loved this book; perhaps because I came totally fresh to Carol Drinkwater's Olive series, or perhaps because I was relaxed on holiday enjoying the hot sunshine by a pool and surrounded by beautiful sub tropical gardens, in search of an undemanding read.
It is a mixture of travelogue laced throughout with well- researched history of the Olive tree and its inextricable links with the history of the various peoples of the Mediterranean and Middle East, and going back in time to the oldest known Olive trees, the half dozen cultivated giants in Lebanon that are 6000 years old.
A personal story weaving through the main theme adds a further dimension that is sometimes touching in its honesty, from this actress turned determinately organic olive farmer.
Drinkwater's search for the Olive's historical roots began in the autumn of 2001, but was almost immediately cut short by the political events surrounding 9/11, and not picked up again until 2005, starting in Marseilles, from where her journey took her through Lebanon via those ancient giants, through Syria, Turkey, Malta, Tunisia, Libya, Greece, Crete and finally Israel. Tensions in that area prevented her being able to complete the travel circle back to where she started, and she was deeply disturbed by what she saw. But she ends her journey with a story of Hope, with her involvement in an act of cooperation between Israeli Jews and Palestinian peace activists, the latter allowed out of their village on a 2 hour permit only, when they all joined together in a symbolic tree planting ceremony.
Driven first by a passion to know where the story of the olive began, the book becomes spiritually reflective by the end, disturbed as she has been by her experiences in Israel.
What have we lost sight of, she asks? Simplicity? Celebration? Our appreciation of blessings bestowed upon us?
"All across the earth," she writes at page 317, "there remain trickles, delicate traces of tribes and societies who lived, had been living, would still be living, in fashions that were in tune with nature. Singing their songs to the spirits of the rocks, the trees, the heavens above and the beasts, offering their sacrifices to their myriad deities.
But we," she continues, "with our monotheisms and intolerances, have leached the spirits out of the universe. With our advancements and our greeds, we have put paid to their ways. We have stolen, confiscated lands, allocated them patches, cut down their forests and forced them to live another way. To make the earth a better place?"

I found her story wonderfully descriptive, full of serendipitous encounters, stories of colourful friends made along the way, and ending in some very pertinent spiritual reflections for the state of the world. It is all written in an easy flowing style that was not demanding and therefore appropriate for the moment - but then don't people normally read such a book on holiday or otherwise for relaxation?
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on 27 January 2007
I thoroughly enjoyed Carol Drinkwater's 'Olive' series and was delighted to hear of a fourth volume. I was, however, somewhat disappointed. She seems to be carried away by her enthusiam and her prose, in places, borders on the 'purple'. I was constantly irritated by the excessive and sometimes inappropriate use of adjectives and adverbs. Having said that the book provides a fascinating insight into the current situation in those troubled countries surrounding the Mediterranean as seen through the eyes of the local inhabitants. Carol Drinkwater is to be congratulated on her courage in penetrating beyond the tourist route into many dangerous places and for the speed with which she translated her experiences into print.
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on 11 June 2012
I have read with joy the other olive books. Carol's wonderful desciptives keep the reader wanting for more. I felt her fear, amazement, horror, sadness,disappointment, joy, tears, frustration and even the happiness, all the way through all the countries that she visited. I admire her courage and strength in her tour,believing always in the beauty of the olive tree,striving to discover the real and true history surrounding it's origins. Bravo!!
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on 16 May 2007
Having read Ms. Drinkwater's three memoirs, I wasn't properly prepared for the fascinating, often dangerous journey she took to learn how the olive tree came to the European continent. From her first serendipitous meeting on a plane with a woman that led directly to the discovery of a 6000 year old tree, to the dreadful turmoil surrounding the planting of new trees to replace the wonderful old ones torn up in an ongoing conflict between the Israelis and the Palestinians - I was with her every step of her remarkable journey. Her writing is nothing short of magnificent!
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on 5 October 2014
What a treat this book is!
I opened it on a cold, rainy evening and I don't think I put it down for the entire read. Carol Drinkwater writes as if the reader is sitting beside her, and it's impossible not to be drawn into her journey. I felt cold when she was cold, tired when she was tired and held my breath when she was uncomfortable and a little scared. Her journey to trace the birth of the humble olive takes the reader across the Eastern Med on an exciting adventure to beautiful and sometimes unsettling places, steeped in history and with the added enjoyment of meeting the colourful characters encountered along the way.
When I finally put this book down I felt inspired, not only to see the places described here, but to read more of this series of books, which I have now done.I didn't read them in sequence but it's didn't matter. This is wonderful stuff!
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on 15 March 2012
Im still reading this, after reading all the others in the same series of Olive Tree books by Carol Drinkwater, I can only repeat what I've said before - she is a writer with great observational skills that brings the Mediterranean to life.
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