The Roots of the Olive Tree

The Roots of the Olive Tree

3.6 71
by Courtney Miller Santo
     
 

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An extraordinary new voice in contemporary woman’s fiction, Courtney Miller Santo makes her magnificent debut with The Roots of the Olive Tree, a novel that will delight fans of Sarah Blake’s The Postmistress, The Secret Life of Bees by Sue Monk Kidd, and the works of Kristin Hannah.

Set in a house on an olive grove in

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Overview

An extraordinary new voice in contemporary woman’s fiction, Courtney Miller Santo makes her magnificent debut with The Roots of the Olive Tree, a novel that will delight fans of Sarah Blake’s The Postmistress, The Secret Life of Bees by Sue Monk Kidd, and the works of Kristin Hannah.

Set in a house on an olive grove in northern California, The Roots of the Olive Tree is a beautiful, touching story that brings to life five generations of women—including an unforgettable 112-year-old matriarch determined to break all Guinness longevity records—the secrets and lies that divide them and the love that ultimately ties them together.

Editorial Reviews

Library Journal
Anna Keller's most ardent wish is to be the oldest person in the world. She's 112 and her chances are pretty good. In fact, five generations of Keller women (mother Anna, daughter Bets, granddaughter Callie, great-granddaughter Deb, and great-great-granddaughter Erin) live together in California's Sacramento Valley, and a geneticist is coming to study their longevity. Although the women appear ordinary, they defy the odds with their unusual life span, and each has secrets that both define and threaten to derail their idyllic existence. When Erin, the youngest Keller, arrives, pregnant and alone, at Hill House after being in Italy for two years, her unexpected return stirs up long-dormant feelings among the women and brings all their guilt, remorse, and secrets to the surface. Her mother, Deb, will be up for parole soon, and Erin is determined to help her secure her release from prison. VERDICT Santo's debut offers a compelling look at five strong women. While the geneticist's findings, which are interspersed throughout the book, could prove distracting to some readers, overall this solid novel will appeal to fans of women's fiction. [See Prepub Alert, 5/5/12; library marketing; 100,000-copy first printing.]—Cynthia A. Price, Francis Marion Univ. Lib., Florence, SC
Kirkus Reviews
Five generations of unusually long-lived women have family troubles in Santo's oddly static debut. With fourth-generation Deborah just paroled after 20 years in jail for killing her husband, and her daughter Erin about to have a child with no husband in sight, not to mention matriarch Anna (age 112) only one death away from being the oldest person in the world, there ought to be more excitement in the house they share overlooking their olive groves in northern California. Instead, there's simmering resentment and whiny adolescent complaining, which sounds especially self-indulgent coming from 42-year-old Deborah. Granted, her mother, Callie, is thoroughly nasty almost all the time, despite the painkillers she constantly pops for a leg crippled in a bizarre accident, which the author refers to in frustrating fragments over more than 200 pages before finally deigning to tell us exactly what happened. Deborah's violent quarrel with Callie in the hospital where Erin is giving birth is the novel's only truly dramatic scene; the fact that Deborah then jumps parole, disappears and is barely ever referred to again is regrettably typical of Santo's clumsy handling of plot and character. Amrit Hashmi, the geneticist who comes to study Anna and her descendants in the hope of discovering the secret of their longevity, at first seems like something of a nut, judging by a Washington Post column jarringly inserted in the text. Amorous emails exchanged between him and Callie do little to improve our opinion of either, though we're later invited to think of their affair as a life-changing event. Other events that seem to merit attention, such as the birth of Erin's son breaking the line of four firstborn daughters, are not commented on at all. Transcripts of news videotape and a closing folktale are other examples of the author's failure to maintain coherent structure, pacing or tone. Some nice descriptions of the olive groves, but this is too scattershot to make for emotionally satisfying fiction.

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Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780062130532
Publisher:
HarperCollins Publishers
Publication date:
08/07/2012
Sold by:
HARPERCOLLINS
Format:
NOOK Book
Pages:
336
Sales rank:
100,592
File size:
1 MB

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