Shadows of Olive Trees

  • Book: Shadows of Olive Trees
  • Location: Sydney
  • Author: Susanne Gervay

Review Author: hazele



Compassion and sub-text are the qualities which are needed for a story which lasts. Impressive that this coming of age YA novel was written over 20 years ago and is still universally relevant to any culture where parents’ aspirations and youthful desires come into conflict. In “Shadows of Olive Trees”, the girl is of Greek heritage, but she could be from any migrant group in Australian society where she is the first to attend university or to have a different life and broader options than her hard working, ex- peasant parents.

It’s not dated, just set in the mid 1970s. And the scenes where Tessa and her controlling father disagree are some of the strongest. There is still love beneath. Even when the father insists on accompanying her on a university geography excursion, her brother escorting her or choosing a Greek husband for her, whom she rejects. There is still consideration towards her mother even though Tessa does not want her lifestyle. Threaded inbetween is dutiful respect for the food, cultural festivals and religious customs. That dilemma causes the drama.

Gervay’s strengths are the portrayal of the growing feminism of the period, tackling sexual issues and the importance of female friendships.Plus some poetically described settings.

But it also deals with a girl’s growing awareness of her sensuality ,intellect and the enjoyment of learning despite the restrictions of family traditions. Why should a bright girl have fewer opportunities than a male?

Could make a timely film. Good it is digitally available for a new generation of readers for whom the new cover will have appeal.

Set in Sydney, Australia. Written by Susanne Gervay

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