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Reviewed by Teresa Syms for Readers' Favorite
Becoming Olive W.: The Women of Campbell County by S. Lee Fisher tells the story of the youngest daughter of Henderson Westchester. Olive, who was left orphaned at the age of three when her mother died in childbirth, struggles to find her purpose and place as the youngest child in the Westchester family, the business, and the world. She is feisty, dominant and, most times, a rude young girl who grows up and learns the family farming business from the financial side, challenges her father, controls the money and the rest of her large family. Henderson wants Olive to attend finishing school, as most women of the early 1900s did. What Olive wants is to further her education by going to high school and then college, but Henderson will not allow it. Olive fights her family at every turn and the society where she finds herself trapped in the male-dominated times. How will Olive cope with the pressures of life, love, and family while trying to carve out a life for herself? Only time will tell.
S. Lee Fisher has created a beautifully written and well-developed story. Becoming Olive W.: The Women of Campbell County highlights the rural life of Olive Westchester and her dysfunctional large farming family. Henderson only tolerates Olive's behavior because she is so like her deceased mother in looks and behavior. Her siblings, spouses, and teachers despise Olive and her abrupt, harsh, and rude mannerisms. However, her brother Fred is her only true champion. The reader will be transported and absorbed in the story as Olive fights for her place. The author provides a clear picture of what rural Pennsylvania life was like in the early 1900s. Fisher’s detail in describing clothing, furnishings, rural life, West Point, and New York City will leave readers with a clear picture of how Olive suffers at the hands of her family. I found it difficult to put the book down. I needed to keep reading to discover what happens to Olive and her family. A well-written story and I look forward to more from this author. A great book.