The Marshall Plan by Olivia Folmar Ard – Book Review
The Marshall Plan by Olivia Folmar Ard – Reviewed by Julie
Author – Olivia Folmar Ard
Publisher – Three Amigas Press
Pages – 244
Release Date – 31st October 2016
I received a free copy of this book, in exchange for an honest review
Molly Marshall is fresh out of graduate school, armed with a shiny new degree in journalism and ready to take over the world. There’s just one little problem: no one seems to care.
Six months have passed since graduation and no matter how hard she tries, she can’t find a paying job in the field she’s spent years preparing to dominate. Stuck in a menial job she hates, plagued with memories of an abusive childhood, and engaged to a man she may no longer love, she’s running out of options and fast.
When she stumbles across a long-kept secret, though, everything changes and she’s forced to make a choice. What will it be, her ambition or her heart?
This standalone sequel to ’The Partition of Africa’ invites you to examine your thoughts on family, desire and the nature of love itself.
‘The Marshall Plan’ is the second novel by American author Olivia Folmar Ard. It is written in the first person and maintains an even pace throughout. The writing style is clear and Ard makes full use of literary descriptive devices.
The plot is straightforward and the author has resisted the temptation to become side-tracked with irrelevant sub-plots. The main protagonist, Molly, is a young woman setting out after graduation in search of the perfect life.
The author has clearly put a lot of thought into the cover design. The flowers in a trough beneath the window representing the life Molly dreams of and the bars at the window, depicting the constraints that she feels are holding her back.
The story charts the minutiae of Molly’s daily routine in small-town America, her frustrations and the realisation that fantasy and actuality are different things.
Ard explores Molly’s feelings, emotions and aspirations, as well as her relationships with others. We meet several foils who populate Molly’s world and see at first-hand her interactions and value judgements as she struggles with life as an independent adult.
As the story unfolds, the author examines family dynamics and through a voyage of self-discovery, empowers Molly to challenge her long-held prejudices to ultimately understand and accept the shortcomings of others and indeed herself.
Far from a hearts and flowers romance, this novel has a gritty realism that will resonate with many readers. In essence it is a love story with three-dimensional characters, all of whom are intriguing and true to life.
Whilst normally a fan of action novels, I nevertheless enjoyed The Marshall Plan and think the author has sensitively tackled some tricky issues. The pace of the book may not suit all readers but if you enjoy stories of gentle self-awakening then you should read this work.
The Marshall Plan is skilfully written and I award it a well-deserved four-and-a-half stars.
Reviewed by Julie
Four and a half stars
Olivia began writing creatively at eight years old. During middle and high school, she attended several writing conferences and submitted poems and short stories to various writing contests.
She finished her first long work of fiction, an unpublished novella entitled Heaven’s Song, in the tenth grade. Her short story “By Its Cover” placed first in its division in the 2008 District III Alabama Penman Creative Writing Contest.
She took a reprieve from writing during her years at the University of Montevallo, where she earned a degree in history in 2012. She finished and published her first novel, ‘The Partition of Africa’, in 2014.
Olivia currently lives in central Alabama with her husband John, to whom she’s been wed since the age of twenty-two, and their cat, Buddy. When she isn’t writing, she enjoys watching quality television–The Office (US), Parks & Recreation, 30 Rock, and Friends are her favorites–and cooking without recipes.
Along with working full-time at her alma mater and studying English at the graduate level, she is busy working on her next literary adventure.