Official Review: El ombu by Beldon Butterfield

Please use this forum to discuss historical fiction books. Common definitions define historical fiction as novels written at least 25-50 years after the book's setting.
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Renu G
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Official Review: El ombu by Beldon Butterfield

Post by Renu G » 01 Jun 2019, 12:56

[Following is an official OnlineBookClub.org review of "El ombu" by Beldon Butterfield.]
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3 out of 4 stars
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El OmbĂș is a historical fiction novel authored by Beldon Butterfield. The title is taken from the name of an evergreen tree from Pampa that grows on an estancia (cattle ranch) belonging to the Redfield family in Argentina. They believe that it has some magical properties and symbolizes their culture.

This story of a British family is character-driven with Lt. David Redfield, DFC & Bar, as the protagonist. It is during World War II. He does an excellent job as a young Spitfire pilot who is injured and becomes a prisoner of war of the Italians. Managing to escape with the help of Vico, a childhood buddy, he journeys by submarine to Malta. The months are full of challenges, ordeals, and surprises for this Anglo-Argentinian even as he feels as if he is being watched and every detail has been planned. What could be the reason for him to become a VIP? Thereafter, the fighter travels to Tel Aviv in the British Mandate of Palestine, and then to London where his parents are waiting for him. He does not receive a warm welcome as expected. Instead, he must face the consequences of his dark past due to a romantic relationship with Maureen, a woman much older than him. David learns that Charles, his rival, has muddled it further, but readers may wish to find out the details for themselves.

This 387-page book is so captivating and fast-paced that I had to read it in one go with only a short break after every chapter. The first half is full of suspense. I was left with many questions about the identity of several characters and the strange events that surrounded David. The second half is a lengthy unfolding of the mystery. I felt it was stretched too much, and the author could have done this in a few pages.

What I liked most was the exposure to French, Spanish, Italian, British, American, and other cultures in the historical context of World War II and its aftermath. The children born of mixed marriages between people of diverse races grow up into strong and distinct personalities, thus increasing my interest in the novel. It is dense with historical information and events surrounding the War that have been creatively woven by the author along with very interesting character development.

Although El OmbĂș combines historical fiction with romance, its sexually explicit content could be disturbing to some readers. Most of the women characters have been depicted as promiscuous individuals trying to seduce David. I most disliked this aspect of the book and felt that it is gender biased and disrespectful. It is not meant for children. Otherwise, the novel has an excellent plot and script. I did find errors in spelling and grammar, but they were not distracting. The book needs to be professionally edited. After taking all that is discussed into consideration, I rate this book 3 out of 4 stars. I recommend it for men and women who like historical fiction, culture, and wartime stories. Those who serve the defense forces will enjoy reading it.

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El ombu
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ButterscotchCherrie
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Post by ButterscotchCherrie » 07 Jun 2019, 02:25

This sounds like a compelling if complex work of historical fiction. So why was the title taken from the tree in Argentina? I'm sure I don't know what "DFC & Bar" means.

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Post by Scarlet Nicoll » 07 Jun 2019, 05:45

Sounds like a memoir, is it based on true events? Thank you for this detailed account!

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Post by Wyland » 07 Jun 2019, 06:34

I like this fast-paced novel set during the war time. The details. I also like the description of life during that period. Thanks for the wonderful review.

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Post by Letora » 07 Jun 2019, 07:17

The gender bias would most likely anger me as I read the book, as it feels as though it might be explicit just to shock readers. It's a shame though because it seems like other than that it would be a good read. Thank you for reviewing :)
"Fantasy is a necessary ingredient in living, it's a way of looking at life through the wrong end of a telescope." - Dr. Seuss

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Post by Renu G » 07 Jun 2019, 09:11

Scarlet Nicoll wrote: ↑
07 Jun 2019, 05:45
Sounds like a memoir, is it based on true events? Thank you for this detailed account!
Yes, it is based on historical events. Someone advised the author to write it in the form of a novel.

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Post by Hiruni Bhagya 81 » 07 Jun 2019, 11:13

The storyline of this book sounds interesting. But, I'm not a fan of books where women are made to look promiscuous. Like some men, some women are like that. But, all women are not like that and trying to portray such an image is disrespectful. I'm not sure whether or not I'll enjoy it. But, for the sake of the plot, I'll try. Thanks so much for your honest and thoughtful review.

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Post by busisiwe5754 » 07 Jun 2019, 16:20

''Although El OmbĂș combines historical fiction with romance, its sexually explicit content could be disturbing to some readers. Most of the women characters have been depicted as promiscuous individuals trying to seduce David. I most disliked this aspect of the book and felt that it is gender biased and disrespectful''.

I really liked that the book was about history but I do not like the fact that it disrespects woman so I think that I shall pass. Thank you for the review.

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Post by kdstrack » 08 Jun 2019, 15:04

The historical information included in the story looks interesting, especially since the author has included so many different nationalities instead of just focusing on one country. I also wonder what happened in David's past to cause his parent's ire? Great review!

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