The Wild Olive Pleasant, Forgettable Reading

Basil King’s The Wild Olive is the story of the attempts by two outcasts — “wild olives” — to rejoin the society that rejected them for offenses they did not commit.

Condemned for murder, Norrie Ford flees into the Adirondacks. The illegitimate daughter of a genuine murder helps him escape to Ireland via Canada using the name Herbert Strange.

The "wild Olive" warns Ford of danger of recapture

From Ireland, Ford goes to Buenos Aires, where he finds work with the firm of Stephens and Jarrott. Seeing his hard work and intelligence, Mr. Jarrott mentors Ford. Within three years Ford is in management.

Jarrott would like to see Ford marry his ward, Evie Colfax, a New York socialite. Ford would like to marry Evie to please Jarrott, but he doesn’t want to marry anyone under a false name or false pretenses.

He’d rather go to jail.

Evie is less noble, “I can’t be engaged to people just because they’re innocent,” she says. “It isn’t right to expect it of me.”

Fortunately for Ford, Evie’s childhood friend, Miriam Strange, is none other than his Adirondacks accomplice who gave Ford his life and her family name.

King’s eye for detail obscures the predictability of the story line and characters, but cannot make the novel memorable. The Wild Olive will entertain you, but won’t enlarge your understanding of people or events.

The Wild Olive
by Basil King
Illustrated by Lucius Hitchcock
Grosset & Dunlap, 1910
1910 bestseller # 3
Project Gutenberg EBook #13212

 © 2013 Linda Gorton Aragoni

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Linda G. Aragoni

I make big ideas simple for learners. In eight sentences, 34 words, I taught teens and adults to write competently. Now I'm writing guides to turn willing volunteers into great nursing home visitors.

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