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The Roots of the Olive Tree | [Courtney Miller Santo]

The Roots of the Olive Tree

Meet the Keller family, five generations of firstborn women - an unbroken line of daughters - living together in the same house on a secluded olive grove in the Sacramento Valley of Northern California. Anna, the family matriarch, is 112 and determined to become the oldest person in the world. An indomitable force, strong in mind and firm in body, she rules Hill House, the family home she shares with her daughter Bets, granddaughter Callie, great-granddaughter Deb, and great-great-granddaughter Erin. Though they lead ordinary lives, there is an element of the extraordinary to these women.
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Publisher's Summary

Meet the Keller family, five generations of firstborn women - an unbroken line of daughters - living together in the same house on a secluded olive grove in the Sacramento Valley of Northern California.

Anna, the family matriarch, is 112 and determined to become the oldest person in the world. An indomitable force, strong in mind and firm in body, she rules Hill House, the family home she shares with her daughter Bets, granddaughter Callie, great-granddaughter Deb, and great-great-granddaughter Erin. Though they lead ordinary lives, there is an element of the extraordinary to these women: The eldest two are defying longevity norms. Their unusual lifespans have caught the attention of a geneticist who believes they hold the key to breakthroughs that will revolutionize the aging process for everyone.

But Anna is not interested in unlocking secrets the Keller blood holds. She believes there are some truths that must stay hidden, including certain knowledge about her origins that she has carried for more than a century. Like Anna, each of the Keller women conceals her true self from the others. While they are bound by blood and the house they share, living together has not always been easy. And it is about to become more complicated now that Erin, the youngest, is back, alone and pregnant, after two years abroad with an opera company. Her return and the arrival of the geneticist who has come to study the Keller family ignites explosive emotions that these women have kept buried and uncovers revelations that will shake them all to their roots.

Told from varying viewpoints, Courtney Miller Santo's compelling and evocative debut novel captures the joys and sorrows of family - the love, secrets, disappointments, jealousies, and forgiveness that tie generations to one another.

©2012 Courtney Miller Santo (P)2012 HarperCollins Publishers Ltd.

What Members Say

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  •  
    MissSusie66 09-11-12
    MissSusie66 09-11-12 Member Since 2010

    MissSusie

    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "Great story & narration"

    This is a story of family, resentments, age and secrets. It shows how resentments affect generation after generation and in this family there are 5 generations of first born women with a 6th generation on the way, the oldest being Anna who is 112 and strives to become the oldest living human being, especially since she still has her mind and her body is still pretty spry too. Then there is Dr. Amrit who is on a mission to find out more about super-agers and thinks he has hit pay dirt with the The Keller women but with his research secrets are uncovered that the women would all rather stayed buried.

    I really liked this story even though the ending was a bit rushed and not as satisfying as I had hoped. The Keller women are not always likable but you still can’t help falling in love with them, flaws and all. Every mother and daughter has had their share of troubles some more than others, however they all still live in the same house which has become tense as these women move about their days without ever really connecting with each other. But with the youngest coming back home with problems of her own and Dr. Amrit’s research dislodging lost (or best forgotten) memories these women are all doing some soul searching.

    Karen White’s narration was fantastic all her different voices and accents were spot on; you always knew exactly who was talking. Her voice took on so many different characteristics of each of the women as they told their story and her delivery held my interest all the way through.

    I thought this was a great first novel it is set in California but has a southern fiction feel to it so I think if you are a fan of Southern Fiction I would suggest giving this one a try.

    4 stars

    2 of 2 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Kathy Choctaw, OK, United States 12-08-12
    Kathy Choctaw, OK, United States 12-08-12 Member Since 2004
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    "Baffled By the Positive Reviews"

    I am truly baffled by the postive reviews. I found the story plodding and totally unengaging. None of the characters are in anyway compelling. It is difficult to believe that they could live to such great ages with maturing. In a word boring.

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Mendi SAN RAMON, CA, United States 05-06-13
    Mendi SAN RAMON, CA, United States 05-06-13
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    "I had a hard time buying into this story"
    What disappointed you about The Roots of the Olive Tree?

    I wanted to love this story and found myself only liking it at it's best parts. I just could not really believe the characters and then on top of that I did not find parts of them to like. I did not hate the story and thought that there were threads that were enjoyable but in general I could not recommend this book. I found it difficult to believe the characters as they were voiced. I did not believe their age and I think they were supposed to sound younger but a 112 year old woman should not sound 35-40.


    What could Courtney Miller Santo have done to make this a more enjoyable book for you?

    I initially had concerns over the slowness of her speaking but then realized she was in the character of the oldest player in the story. Overall I felt that she tended to swing up with her voice in nearly every character and it made me feel that they had less conviction in whatever they were doing. For the first hour or so this bothered me.


    Who would you have cast as narrator instead of Karen White?

    dont' have a suggestion here


    What reaction did this book spark in you? Anger, sadness, disappointment?

    Why am I listening to this? I enjoyed so many parts and then would be equally dashed by the next segment. I could not completely like any of the characters. It seemed like they had to be flawed but in such a way as to make them really unlikeable. Why did Debra have to run? Why did Betz and Cali have to fight? Perhaps they were way to close to real people with real issues for me to truly appreciate. I tend to like to escape and preferably into a prettier, tidier world. I did like Frank, except when he ruined the myth of Santa for Cali. Should we keep our secrets?? There were so many questions left unanswered for all members if this family. There was a lot of depth given for characters that did not seem to be needed or required later to further support the story so at times, it just went on...


    Any additional comments?

    I really wanted to like this but for me the characters were unlikeable and unbelievable.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
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