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The Roots of the Olive Tree

3.39  ·  Rating details ·  4,182 ratings  ·  617 reviews
Set in a house on an olive grove in northern California, The Roots of the Olive Tree is a beautiful, touching story that brings to life five generations of women--including an unforgettable 112 year-old matriarch determined to break all Guinness longevity records--the secrets and lies that divide them and the love that ultimately ties them together.
Hardcover, 308 pages
Published August 21st 2012 by William Morrow
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Average rating 3.39  · 
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 ·  4,182 ratings  ·  617 reviews

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Sep 04, 2012 rated it did not like it
The description of the book - a story surrounding five living generations of women - appealed on that very women’s fiction level. The synopsis hinted at hidden secrets along with this very interesting family dynamic that brings all five of these women back under the same Californian roof. Santo broke her narrative into five sections - one section for each generation’s P.O.V. - plus a bonus epilogue from the perspective of the sixth generation. Unfortunately, the secrets revealed came surprisingl ...more
Jul 08, 2012 rated it did not like it
Shelves: fiction
I really hate to be someone who puts out a negative review of a book especially one that is an author's debut novel. I was so disappointed in this book. I am from Northern California and was excited to see a book about this region, then that it was multi-generational and about women made it even more intriguing so I was happy to sign up for an ARC. I feel like the editors let this author down because somehow this book seemed unfinished. Too many characters, too many secrets and too many gaps lef ...more
Jan 31, 2013 rated it it was ok
Shelves: women-s-fiction
This started with a good premise but I felt the author was lacking character development. I have problems with books that have unlikeable characters. However, I have a unusual and some might say twisted sense of what is likeable and can find some horrific characters terribly likeable. When they are dully drawn is when I have the problem.

Enter five generations of one family who live in Kidiron, California - a fictionalized version of Corning, for those of you familiar with that particular stretch
Julie Barrett
Jun 13, 2012 rated it it was amazing
Roots of The Olive Tree by Courtney Miller Santo
I was first attracted to this book because of the name, olive tree in the title. Coming from a family of nurserymen this would be right up my alley.
Love the proverbs and how they are useful to the olive pickers.
This is a story about 5 generations of women and there is a geneticist coming to find out why they live so long. He hopes to find out all their secrets.
Love hearing about the olive trees, nursery/grafting and why their products are so useful
This book had too much going on. I liked the descriptions of the orchids and Anna's story. But the book just seemed to be about too many issues / stories / characters without fully exploring any of them. I thought the book was going to be realistic fiction dealing with family relationships and aging, but suddenly there was a family member in prison for murder, another who was a victim of an improbable accident, secrets of paternity, a woman hoping to become the oldest living person, an unplanned ...more
Elizabeth of Silver's Reviews
Olives, Olive Oil, longevity.....sounds like it could be true to me. The Keller women had worked in the olive orchards for generations, and Anna, who was 112, claimed the longevity was because of the family's "love" of the olives....this book is filled with generations of women and family life. What a magnificent book with a powerful, thoughtful ending.

A lot of life's lessons were taught under and in the olive trees. Anna told her great, great grandchild, Erin, that "roots" are important whethe
Jun 12, 2012 rated it liked it
Shelves: first-reads
5 (6) generations of females living on olive farm in California … present day setting. Early pages, but good read.

Liked it. Wanted to love it, but just didn't feel it.

5 generations of first born females in one olive 'plantation'. Other than their inclusive past and present, there wasn't a great deal there. Anna is the oldest and wants to be the oldest living person. Her daughter Bets story deals mostly with her husband Frank who has dementia or something along those lines and is in a home and
Diane S ☔
Aug 15, 2012 rated it liked it
3.5 It could be that because I have a large family myself, although more sons than daughters, I could really relate to this story. I most identified with Anna, who was the oldest, she was a crusty, self=determined character that attempted to keep the peace between all living in her house. I was also intrigued about the anti-aging research and enjoyed learning about the olive groves and the transplanting of the trees. {acing was somewhat slow in the beginning and the constant shifts of focus kept ...more
Samantha Glasser
The Roots of the Olive Tree concerns a family of women who have extrordinarily long lives. The first woman of the still-living Kellers in California is Anna whose father brought the first olive trees from Australia to the United States. Her daughter Bets (short for Elizabeth--the author has conveniently used the letters of the alphabet to keep track of the characters and their ages) has lived to see her daughter Callie, her grand-daughter Deb, and her great-grand-daughter Erin grow up and have c ...more
☯Emily  Ginder
I would give this book 2 1/2 stars if that were an option. I have an Advance Reader's Edition from Harper Collins. The book centers around five generations of women who live together. None of these women seem to age, so a scientist comes to investigate why. His visit is the catalyst for revealing the stories of the five Keller women. The book is divided into five sections; each woman is given a chance to share her thoughts and secrets. Unfortunately, I could not really relate to any of the chara ...more
Kelly Roll
Nov 25, 2012 rated it it was ok
This title was a miss for me. I keep giving "women's fiction" a try but all too frequently I find the stories to be somewhat bland.
In The roots of the olive tree we have a character study of several generations of long lived women. The story ostensibly concerns a researcher studying the women to determine why they are superagers and in his pursuit of the scientific evidence secrets are revealed. For me each of the individual women's stories just were not that interesting nor did I find their sec
Superstition Review
Apr 29, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: issue-19-fiction
Courtney Miller Santo deftly writes the six different perspectives of a family dominated by women who have exceptionally long lives in her novel, The Roots of the Olive Tree. The direct speech, rich interiority, and distinctive voice of each character lends to the captivating story of a family led fearlessly by their centenarian matriarch, who is battling to become the oldest documented living person. Santo slowly reveals the troubled intricate familial relationships between the five generations ...more
Jun 07, 2013 rated it really liked it
I was intrigued by this story that someone could live as long and stay as healthy as these women do. Genetics, I'm sure, does play a part as my aunt will be 93 this year. She was not an active woman and did smoke at one point in her life. So the question is asked. Does your environment and life style dictate how long you live? I believe that it does except for the occasional person that defies the odds and lives on.......I hope I have that gene as well. I recommend this book. ...more
Sep 19, 2014 rated it did not like it
I thought this book was a strange mess. I didn't like the characters and I felt that the author jumped all over the place. I assume her goal was to give each woman in the story a chance to tell her story, but there was no flow in the book. It was a mess. ...more
Erin Gentzel
Feb 24, 2019 rated it really liked it
I enjoyed the multi-generational aspect of the book. I was intrigued by the concept of living well past 100. It was a good story, not great. I have mentioned it to a few friends, but wouldn’t recommend to everyone because the story was slow an wandered in strange ways at times. Overall, an enjoyable experience about family dynamics.
Mahoghani 23
A genealogical story about a family of women, 6 generations strong, with the matriarch at the age of 112. Each woman has a secret that they wished to keep but it affects each member of the family differently. This story illustrates the Chase for immortality & why some people live longer than others. When a geneticist seeks their family out, secrets unravel to reveal themselvesin more ways than one,
Cindy Veneris
Dec 12, 2018 rated it liked it
I’m giving this 3 stars because the author writes very well, but what a soap opera. Not my favorite.
May 21, 2012 rated it really liked it
The Keller women are a strong and hearty bunch. Legend has it it's the olive oil. Anna's father brought his family and his olive trees over from Brisbane to the New World in 1898. They settled in Kidron where the man built the family home and everyone, Anna included, worked and harvested the crop. Today, it is the daughters who still live at the homestead, Anna and the first born of each generation. At 112 years old, Anna is more active and sharp than most at her age. And she says she's darn wel ...more
Maurine Tritch
Oct 11, 2012 rated it really liked it
The Roots of the Olive Tree at the core is a charming generational book, but the details make it fresh and interesting. Anna is one hundred and twelve, and she lives with her daughter, her granddaughter and soon to be joined by her great-granddaughter. We quickly learn that she is a "superager": that she possesses a gene, which runs through the female line only, that allows the normal affects of aging to pass her by. When the story opens, the women are expecting a visit by a geneticist who is ce ...more
Ariatna Garza
Apr 27, 2015 rated it really liked it
The Roots of the Olive tree, by Courtney Miller Santos was truly an amazing read! This novel centers around the lives of five generations of women, beginning with the eldest who is one hundred and twelve years old, Anna. Then there is Bets, Anna’s daughter. Calliope, Bet’s daughter, and Deb, Calliope’s daughter. The youngest, Erin, is pregnant with a child. Courtney Miller Santos takes us to Hill House, an old house in California, where the family has grown olives in the land surrounding the hou ...more
Jun 05, 2013 rated it it was ok
I knew about telomeres from reading The Immortal life of Henrietta Lacks. From reading this book I've learned that if we can find a way from keeping our telomeres from shortening with each division, we can live for a very long time, providing we avoid accidents. Maybe some smart someone will invent a take home kit for telomere testing, like a pregnancy test, so we can predict our own lifespans.

In this book, five women, descendants of an Australian aborigine women, share a kind genetic mutation.
Jun 20, 2012 rated it it was ok
Shelves: fiction
“Anna Davison Keller wanted to be the oldest person in the world. She felt she was owed this distinction, due to the particular care she’d taken with the vessel God had given her. In her morning prayers, she made a show, in case God himself was watching, of getting out of bed and onto her knees. She spoke to God in his language – asking for a length of days to be added to the one hundred twelve years she’d already lived and pleading for health in her navel and marrow in her bones. She didn’t sa ...more
Dec 13, 2013 rated it it was ok
The Roots of the Olive Tree is set in a small town in Sacramento Valley, California where a family lives on their olive farm. This book is about five generations of women who are predicted to have a long life. Normally it doesn't take me long to connect with the story or characters but with this I had major difficulties. I actually picked this book because the plot intrigued me but,I couldn't grow to like any of the character. They all seem to plastic or unemotional to me. Is it my prejudice tow ...more
Jul 02, 2013 rated it liked it
I usually love multigenerational stories, but this one wasn't one of the best I've read. Five generations of women live in the same household in an olive grove in Southern California. The eldest is 112-year-old Anna who immigrated from Australia to the U.S. with her parents when she was four. Anna is aging remarkably well, as are her 90-year-old daughter Elizabeth (Betts) and 65- year-old granddaughter Calliope. A scientist from the University of Pittsburgh undertakes a study of the women and th ...more
Kimberly Hicks
Mar 16, 2014 rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: Everyone
Recommended to Kimberly by: Bookbub
Shelves: read-on-kindle
There are those who want to live forever, and those of us who settle for whatever time we're to be given. Can you possibly imagine living to be 112 years old? I can't fathom it, but Anna Keller certainly proved the test of time in this wonderfully thought-provoking novel.

The Olive Trees roots go deep for the Keller women starting back in the late 1800s spanning to the year 2017. Five generations of women who have loved, lost and gain a new sense of independence and individuality. The Keller wome
Jun 12, 2012 rated it liked it
Shelves: reviewed-books, owned
I recieved an Early Reviewer Copy of The Roots of the Olive Tree from Harper Collins.

I was interested in hearing about the 5 generations of Keller women, and the longevity of their lives due to the olive orchard they've lived on and cultivated for as many generations. Truth be told, I was almost hoping to learn a few secrets, ha! It started a little slow for me, but caught my attention more after maybe 50 pages. I couldn't wait to hear more of he women's stories, and get some answers as to why D
Jan 24, 2013 rated it it was ok
Shelves: chick-lit
I just turned the last page of this book and I sit her pondering "did I enjoy that or did I just tolerate my way through it?" It's the story of five women, five generations, and the secrets that they have kept. The story revolves around what these women have genetically that makes them live longer than anyone else. In the search for that answer, they find answers to the questions they have each had about their family.

A good premise but I didn't feel connected to any of them. I couldn't really p
Carol N
Jun 14, 2012 rated it really liked it
Liked it, didn't love it as much as I thought I would - was a quick, realistic, but imperfect read. Attracted to it by not only the cover and subject matter but its location. Having travelled Highway 5 to Redding many times over the years, never have I not stopped at the "Olive Pit." So I was drawn to it by familiarity. This book, steeped in secrets, speaks to 5 generations of women who lived in the same house and whose lives were tied in one way or the other to olive trees. The novel, an Advanc ...more
Jun 15, 2012 rated it it was amazing
I won an Advance Reader's Edition from in a SneakPeak contest. I really enjoyed reading this book. The characters were well developed and believeable and the story was very interesting. 5 generations of women, 4 of whom were living in the same house. Each woman had her own section so the reader became very familiar with her character and story - but the whole book was very cohesive. The story was interesting. DNA and immortality were part of the story. The oldest woman, Anna, wa ...more
Harpercollins Canada
Can you believe it? We've hit stop #11 on our Summer Passport tour: The United States of America!

The Roots of the Olive Tree is set in a small town in Sacramento Valley, California where a family lives on their olive farm. But this is no ordinary family, the Keller family represents 5 generations of first born women the eldest, Anna, being 112 years old. Anna, who is determined to become the oldest person in the world, has attracted the attention of a geneticist who believes that the Keller wome
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Courtney Miller Santo teaches creative writing at the University of Memphis, where she received her MFA. She has a BA in journalism from Washington and Lee University and although born and raised in Portland, Oregon, she’s spent most of her adult life in the South. Her work has appeared or is forthcoming in the Los Angeles Review, Irreantum, Sunstone and Segullah. Her debut novel THE ROOTS OF THE ...more

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“I’d put more distance between us. Having us here, always together hasn’t allowed for any fondness to grow between us.” 1 likes
“That’s all old age is really, a bunch of gremlins running around your body, turning stuff off, slowing down the mechanisms that have kept us going.” 0 likes
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