Denise's Reviews > The Roots of the Olive Tree

The Roots of the Olive Tree by Courtney Miller Santo
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's review
Sep 01, 2012

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Read from August 23 to September 01, 2012

3.0 out of 5 stars - "Life is eternal, love immortal and death is only a horizon; and a horizon is nothing save the limit of our sight."

Before you read this, if you can -- download Under the Olive Tree, a prequel to this story of long-lived women! Not only are they living long lives, they don't seem to age as do others. The matriarch of the family is a supercentarian (living past age 110) with a secret that has incredible implications for the research study being done Amrit Hasmi on the five women who live in the Sacramento Valley and own an olive orchard.

The women -- in alphabetical and age order -- Anna, Bets (Elizabeth), Callie (Calliope), Deb and Erin -- have an interesting family dynamic with resentment that seems to have come from misunderstandings and hidden truths that are revealed throughout the narrative. Each of the characters is complex and well drawn -- you love them one minute and almost loathe them the next. The choices each has made in her past affect their daily lives as they all live together in Hill House in a town called Kidron. The men are either deceased or absent so it is a house of only women living together in a somewhat disharmonious state with some allegiances stronger than others. The point of view shifts between the women as each tells a bit of her background and her personal history.

Underneath the theme of longevity and the point that a person doesn't want long life without health as well, is the olive. The fruit and the oil permeate the novel and the reader can almost taste, feel, see and smell them. The women are the roots of their family and have survived and flourished despite hardships and trials that typically bring death or infirmity to most other people of their age. What is in their make-up that allows them to live so long? Is it in their DNA or is it some other type of influence from their diet or environment? Dr. Hasmi wants to know and the women tell him their stories and allow their blood to be tested.

This was an interesting book and an easy, fast read. I'd recommend to anyone who enjoys women's fiction.

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