Advance reader reviews of The Roots of the Olive Tree by Courtney Miller Santo.

The Roots of the Olive Tree

A Novel

By Courtney Miller Santo

The Roots of the Olive Tree
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  • Published in USA  Aug 2012,
    320 pages.

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There are currently 23 member reviews
for The Roots of the Olive Tree
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  • Brenda D. (Lincoln, CA)

    The Roots of the Olive Tree
    A well written, imaginative story about a family of five generations of women. As with all families, there are secrets and those secrets, like the roots of trees, tend to spread out and tangle and have an effect on everyone. I was especially drawn to this book because I live in the general area of its locale and setting is an important part of the story. The characters also come alive, with all of their faults. As you read, you begin to find out how each woman has come to where she is in her life. The only real criticism I have is that the story does a lot of switching back and forth in time, and sometimes a reference to "grandmother" is not very clear, as there are several grandmothers in the story.

    This will definitely be a book that I recommend to my book group, as there are many discussable issues.
  • Andrienne G. (Azusa Library, CA)

    Engaging story about strong women and their secrets
    I was very interested in reading this book and it was a satisfying one. For one, the writing is really good--how it flows, what's said, and what's depicted. I rate books poorly even when the plot is strong but the writing is so shoddy. Just like appetizers, this book needs to be savored, you can't rush a fiction book. This book had a huge cast of characters with each of their stories brought to light in each chapter--helpful because each character is given appropriate attention to move the story along. My favorite character is the matriarch of course, her story doesn't have too many twists in it (two of the women had much interesting secrets), but maybe I have a soft spot for great-great-grandmothers. All of the women had great personalities, probably Erin is the least interesting to me, maybe just as well because she doesn't have enough experience and so it is to be expected. This book doesn't highlight the secrets so much as just letting the women's stories unravel. Reading this book feels like a typical gossip session amongst relatives--surprising and intriguing but not too over the top. This is definitely good book club material.
  • Virginia W. (Cloverdale, CA)

    Multigenerational family secrets
    This is a book about six generations of one family living together. The plot unfolds in an interesting way and the characterizations are strong. The oldest member is 112 and a subplot is an investigational genetic study into the reason why this "superager" and her female relatives have defied the aging process. But the most interesting facets are the secrets each generation holds. I would heartily recommend this book.
  • K J. (Mountain View, CA)

    The Roots of the Olive Tree
    The author started with a strong premise but somehow got lost. There were just too many tangled, unfinished questions to make an enjoyable story. I would give this one a miss.
  • Mary S. (Pinson, AL)

    The Roots of the Olive Tree
    This was such a wonderful story. The multi-generational family living under the same roof with their complex lives, conflicts, and secrets. I loved the relationships between mothers and daughters; and between grandmothers and granddaughters; each one is unique. These women lived together and thought they knew each other so well; and while each woman’s life may have a skeleton or two in the cupboard, I was most surprised by Elizabeth’s story. I enjoyed Santo’s descriptions of the olive orchards and the idea that the oil could be linked to a longer life. Thirty years ago, I had a priest tell me that he believed drinking olive oil every day would help you live longer. At the time, I did not think too much of it, but while reading this novel I did some research and there seems to be some health benefits to it. It definitely made for an interesting read. I loved this novel and can’t wait to see what Santo’s writes next.
  • Debra L. (Deerfield, IL)

    I thought this book was boring. The characters were not well developed, and their stories were not fully developed either. I was not interested in the subplot about the doctor's research on aging. This added nothing to the overall story for me. I liked the setting on the olive orchard, but the rest of the book fell flat. I would not have finished it if it wasn't for me writing this review. An average book about a family of women. The author could have done so much more.
  • Mary Ellen B. (Hebron, CT)

    The Roots of the Olive Tree
    This five generation story of women who have a family business growing grapes in California uncovers the source of their longevity. A geneticist becomes interested in how they live so long just as major changes occur in their lives. A heartfelt story of what it takes to live through difficulties and maintain a sense of family.
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