The Roots of the Olive Tree

  • by Courtney Miller Santo
  • Narrated by Karen White
  • 10 hrs and 35 mins
  • Unabridged Audiobook

Publisher's Summary

Meet the Keller family, five generations of firstborn women - an unbroken line of daughters - 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 person 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: The eldest two 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. She believes there are some truths that must stay hidden, including certain knowledge about her origins that she has carried for more than a century. Like Anna, each of the Keller women conceals her true 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 uncovers revelations that will shake 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 another.


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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful

Great story & narration

This is a story of family, resentments, age and secrets. It shows how resentments affect generation after generation and in this family there are 5 generations of first born women with a 6th generation on the way, the oldest being Anna who is 112 and strives to become the oldest living human being, especially since she still has her mind and her body is still pretty spry too. Then there is Dr. Amrit who is on a mission to find out more about super-agers and thinks he has hit pay dirt with the The Keller women but with his research secrets are uncovered that the women would all rather stayed buried.

I really liked this story even though the ending was a bit rushed and not as satisfying as I had hoped. The Keller women are not always likable but you still can’t help falling in love with them, flaws and all. Every mother and daughter has had their share of troubles some more than others, however they all still live in the same house which has become tense as these women move about their days without ever really connecting with each other. But with the youngest coming back home with problems of her own and Dr. Amrit’s research dislodging lost (or best forgotten) memories these women are all doing some soul searching.

Karen White’s narration was fantastic all her different voices and accents were spot on; you always knew exactly who was talking. Her voice took on so many different characteristics of each of the women as they told their story and her delivery held my interest all the way through.

I thought this was a great first novel it is set in California but has a southern fiction feel to it so I think if you are a fan of Southern Fiction I would suggest giving this one a try.

4 stars
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- MissSusie66 "MissSusie"

Baffled By the Positive Reviews

I am truly baffled by the postive reviews. I found the story plodding and totally unengaging. None of the characters are in anyway compelling. It is difficult to believe that they could live to such great ages with maturing. In a word boring.
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- Kathy

Book Details

  • Release Date: 08-21-2012
  • Publisher: HarperAudio