Saturday, August 25, 2012

The Roots of the Olive Tree by Courtney Miller Santo

Anna Keller, at 112, is the oldest of five generations of women who live among the olive groves in Kidron, California.  Anna's father, Percy, brought the family to the United States from Brisbane near the turn of the century, along with year-old olive trees he got from Spain.  In fact, some of those original trees are still alive on the family's land and cultivated.  What's amazing about the Keller women is that they are all the firstborn and female.  Their longevity has caught the attention of Amrit Hashmi, a scientist from the University of Pittsburgh who has come to interview the women to try to uncover what makes them so special.  In the novel, Santo explores the lives of all five women: Anna, ninety-year old Bets, Bet's daughter, Callie, Deb, who's in prison, and Deb's daughter, Erin, who has recently come home from Europe.  I thoroughly enjoyed reading about the relationships between the women over the years and the setting of Northern California.  For fans of Jo-Ann Mapson, Judith Ryan Hendricks, and people who enjoy novels about family relationships.

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