Review - White Oleander by Janet Fitch

By Carmen, 25 January 2019
My Copy of the Book

Year Published: 1999

Genre: Contemporary; Drama


White Oleander is a painfully beautiful first novel about a young girl growing up the hard way. It is a powerful story of mothers and daughters, their ambiguous alliances, their selfish love and cruel behaviour, and the search for love and identity. Astrid has been raised by her mother, a beautiful, headstrong poet. Astrid forgives her everything as her world revolves around this beautiful creature until Ingrid murders a former lover and is imprisoned for life. Astrid's fierce determination to survive and be loved makes her an unforgettable figure.

About the Author:

Janet Fitch was born and raised in Los Angeles, a third generation Angelino, and attended Reed College in Portland, Oregon, graduating with a degree in history, specializing in Russian Studies. She attributes much of her storytelling ability to her training as an historian. She was a 2009 Likhachev fellow to St. Petersburg, Russia, a Helen R. Whiteley Fellow at the University of Washington Friday Harbor Labs, a research fellow at the Huntington Library, Pasadena, and a Moseley Fellow in Creative Writing at Pomona College.

The best-selling author of the novels White Oleander, Paint It Black, The Revolution of Marina M. and the upcoming Chimes of a Lost Cathedral, Fitch also regularly teaches fiction writing at the Squaw Valley Community of Writers summer workshops, and has taught creative writing in the MPW program at the University of Southern California, Vermont College of Fine Arts' full residency MFA in Writing and Publishing, UC Riverside Low-Residency MFA program, Pomona College, UCLA Extension, and the Esalen Institute. Her short fiction and essays have appeared in Los Angeles Noir (Akashic Press), Black Clock, Vogue, Real Simple, A Room of Her Own, Black Warrior Review, Rattling Wall, the Los Angeles Times, the Los Angeles Review of Books, and many other publications.

Fitch currently lives in Los Angeles, in the hills where Rena Grushenka's girls picked trash in White Oleander.

Connect with the Author:

Facebook: Janet Fitch Facebook

Twitter: Janet Fitch Twitter

Author Website: Janet Fitch Author Website

Buy the Book:

Amazon: Amazon Purchase Link

My Take on the Book:

I found it strange how Astrid Magnussen wanted to be around her mother even though she had to some extent rejected Astrid. I wondered what had happened in Ingrid Magnussen’s life to make her the way she was, and I got the idea that she wasn’t all there in her mind. For those who have a lot of questions about what can happen when parenting goes wrong – this is a good book to read. I ended up giving this leisurely read a four star rating.

Last Word:

This is the second book that I’ve read by this author, and personally I enjoyed each of the books in their own way.