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The Roots of the Olive Tree

A Novel

by Courtney Miller Santo

The Roots of the Olive Tree by Courtney Miller Santo
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  • Published in USA  Aug 2012
    320 pages
    Genre: Novels

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There are currently 25 reader reviews for The Roots of the Olive Tree
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Power Reviewer Louise J

Superbly Crafted Debut Novel!!
For a debut novel, Courtney Miller Santo has done a remarkable job in writing this novel. The story was superbly engaging, the characters were very well developed, and really gave a believable voice of each of the women. I won’t have any trouble recommending The Roots of the Olive Tree to everyone I know. I loved the cover of this book and it was an all-round super read! I was sorry to see it end.
Sally G. (Saint Johns, FL)

Savory
This story has five generations of women all in the same home. The story catches you in the beginning and attaches you to one of the women. It progresses to the secrets and loves that women hide in their hearts.
Buy a jar of olives and let your tongue roll around it as your mind wanders through the olive groves.
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!
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.
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.
Anne B. (Carson City, NV)

The Roots of the Olive Tree
This was a fabulous read! I can't express how much I enjoyed this book. The premise of aging and aging in a family of long-lived women was very unusual and since it is a novel I am not sure how much of the science was accurate, but it convinced me. It also made me decide to explore the subject of superagers more thoroughly, which is something I believe a good novel will do; take you beyond the novel into other compatible territory. The characters were so well-drawn and lifelike that I felt I knew them almost from the beginning. Since this is Ms. Santo's first novel, I will be anxious to see what she writes next. I do think this book would be a good book club choice because there is so much "meat" to the characters and their actions.
Betsy R. (Gig Harbor, WA)

One of the summer's best
I purposely saved my copy of The Roots of the Olive Tree for a vacation because I could tell it would be the kind of book that be perfect-and it was. I love family stories, particularly when they center around women as I have three sisters and three daughters. Much of the family story resonated with me but I also liked the setting and the background of the olives and all that goes into growing, processing and marketing them. I would definitely recommend this book to my book club.

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