Set in northern California, a beautiful and touching debut novel that brings to life five generations of women, the secrets and lies, that divide them and the love that ultimately bring them together.
Meet the Keller family, five generations of firstborn women - a line of daughters unbroken - 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 living woman 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: all 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. There are some truths that need to stay hidden, she believes, including certain knowledge about her origins that she has carried for more than a century. Like Anna, each of the Keller women conceals their truth 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 uncover revelations that will shakes 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 other.
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"An impressive debut that explores the importance of family, the destructiveness of secrets, and the ultimate liberation of the truth." - Booklist
"Some nice descriptions of the olive groves, but this is too scatter shot to make for emotionally satisfying fiction." - Kirkus Reviews
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Courtney Miller Santo learned to share the stories that come to her from her great-grandmother, who lives in Northern California. She teaches creative writing at the University of Memphis, where she received her MFA. She received a BA in journalism from Washington and Lee University, where she learned the limits of true stories, and although born and raised in Portland, Oregon, she's spent most of her adult life in the South, where she learned that not all stories are about kings and their palaces. Her work has appeared or is forthcoming in the Los Angeles Review, Irreantum, Sunstone, and Segullah. Visit her at www.courtneysanto.com.
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