“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 say outright that God ought to strike dead the jo-fired man in China who was keeping her from the title, but after all these years, surely, God knew her heart.”
In her debut novel, Courtney Miller Santo presents the lives of five generations of Keller women, known for their longevity, but not necessarily for their togetherness. Putting together a background of olive farming and strong-minded women really appealed to me. I love the idea of a family of mothers and daughters, secrets, strength and hope. There’s definitely lots to intrigue a reader here. Pregnancy without marriage, adultery, murder, spousal abuse, homosexuality – this is one dysfunctional family. In all honesty, I didn’t care about the characters and was a little turned off with their stories. But that’s just me. Santo has a knack for storytelling and I know there is a group of readers out there who will just love The Roots of the Olive Tree. Many thanks for William Morrow and Harper Collins Publishers for an advance review copy of this book.
2 1/2 stars (out of 5)
Published in 2012