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Christine P. (San Francisco, CA)
The Roots of the Olive Tree?
Being from Northern California, I was very excited to read The Roots of the Olive Tree. I ended up being disappointed. I think there were too many characters and too many secrets to unravel and too many gaps in the story left blank. By the time I got to the end of the book, I had a hard time figuring out what the author was trying to tell me. Was this supposed to be a story about family, women, relationships, longevity, olive growing, prison reform, forgiveness, what? These all make for great elements in a story and when combined can become something special. But more often, it’s best to leave things in their purest form, like many good olive oils, and see what develops.
Deborah P. (Dunnellon, FL)
The Roots of the Olive Tree
This is a unique historical fiction of five generations of women living in northern California. It is unique in that it contemporaneously weaves each woman’s story around the family matriarch as opposed to the usual technique of writing each person's story in chapter form. This is a book that does not read as a debut novel. Ms. Santo has written an outstanding novel that not only kept me awake reading, but woke me up because I felt I was living the lives of the characters. I look forward to many more novels from the author...she is now on my five star must read list. Not to be missed!
Vy A. (Munds Park, AZ)
The Roots of the Olive Tree
Roots of the Olive Tree would make an excellent book club choice. With five generations of women in the Keller family there are characters women of every age can relate to. My favorite is the 112-year old matriach Anna, who strives to be the oldest living person in the world. When a geneticist comes to study Anna , hoping to uncover the genetic DNA secret that runs through this family of healthy women, he sets in motion a story that uncovers lifelong secrets of each of the women. This is a story of love that binds families through their frailties and misfortunes and caused this reader to reflect on that precious link with those women who came before me and those who follow. Set in a family olive grove in central California, foodies will enjoy the setting and references to this delicious ointment.
Jinny K. (Fremont, CA)
Shallow and disappointing
Well, I hate to disparage a new novelist, but the best thing I can say about this book is that it's a pretty good first draft.
Marion H. (Port Angeles, WA)
"Roots" for Some
Generational sagas are one of my favorite genre, but this book was disappointing in more than one aspect.
The characters were one-dimensional and unsympathetic, not seeming connected to each other or to their own tedious endless lives.
Trying to avoid 'spoilers', there some story lines that were totally unresolved and the book seemed to end abruptly with no enlightenment or climax.
If you like a charming multigenerational family story, "The Roots of the Olive Tree" is for you. But I expected more from this book when the theme of a life-prolonging gene mutation present in the five living generations of the female members of this family was introduced. After all, the title does include the word, "roots!" A confirmation of this theory was to be found in Australia, but the author never takes the reader there. So in the end, this book was a pleasant read with characters not particularly memorable, with relationships not particularly interesting and with a plot not particularly engaging. I do want to thank the author for naming her characters in alphabetical order according to their place in the family: Anna, Bets, Callie, Deb and Erin. This did help me to distinguish the characters' storyline one from the other.
The symbol of the olive tree
The roots of the olive tree is not the symbol of this family, but rather the grafting of new species of olives onto established trees. I found this book a disappointment on several levels. I had difficulty becoming engaged in the lives and personalities of the characters, even as old family secrets were revealed, but I do give credit to the author for putting them in alphabetical order--it was very helpful for keeping the five women straight. I also felt that the novel didn't so much as end as it stopped; there were too many threads of the story that were not sewn up. The secondary story about the theory of aging was interesting and believable, and I liked the use of flashbacks to fill out the stories while keeping the present moving along.
Molly K. (San Jose, CA)
Fruits of the Olive Tree
SoI really wanted to like this book, and it began with the promise of exploring and developing the relationships among six generations of women.
Mary Ellen L. (Canfield, OH)
Roots of the Olive Tree
But, then, nothing much happened. The secrets were hardly remarkable; the research project seemed out of place; and the love affair and subsequent marriage between Callie and the professor had no fire.
I enjoyed the way the story ambled along; it just didn't arrive anywhere. I wish there had been more stories about the olive ranch as a beacon for this family.
Overall, I must give credit for a first offering. I might have enjoyed the story a lot more if the author had concentrated on the stories of the women and left the dollops of fantasy and clinical research for another effort.
This is an engaging novel of five generations of women, each with amazing longevity, hidden strength and an intriguing story. Their many secrets unfold, although somewhat slowly, throughout the novel as the women question revealing them. The novel's setting on an olive tree farm in Northern California was also interesting to this Midwestern reader.