“Oleanna is a novel set in the last days of Norway's union with Sweden, that lasted from 1814 to 1905. It is a romance primarily, and that aspect of it is definitely compelling, but the real draw of the story lies in Rose's ability to draw a picture of a particular place and time, the rural and urban atmospheres of western Norway in the early twentieth century. Rose also uses her story to explore the social and political viewpoints of the time. On one hand, Oleanna, the heroine of the story, attends a women's suffrage meeting, and there you can feel the tides of change that were sweeping the society forward; but on the other hand, there is a real feeling held by Oleanna (and it seems a fair perspective to hold) that the greatest change that is said to be sweeping Norway, the possibility of independence after centuries of unions with foreign countries, is ultimately of little importance to the everyday lives of ordinary people.
If I had one criticism, I would say that it feels at times as if (as I said earlier) Rose is using her story to explore these historical events and the world that surrounded them, rather than using the history and the world that surrounded it as a backdrop to enrich her story. This may seem like a rather minuscule distinction, and many will likely not notice it, but I did feel as if the story took second place to making sure the reader got to see every part of the world Rose is interested in writing about. However, I think both the history and the story are interesting enough that this doesn't become a serious problem. ”