Tuesday, August 21, 2012

The Roots of the Olive Tree by Courtney Miller Santo

Good morning! I am thrilled to be the first stop on the TLC tour for Courtney Miller Santo's excellent debut today!

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 well going to live another decade -- to ensure she becomes the oldest living person ever! Anna's daughter, Bets, is in her nineties and also in great health, though her husband now lives in an assisted living facility. Her daughter Callie runs the Pit Stop shop alone since her husband died. Deb, the next in line, is the most tragic, having been imprisoned for much of her own daughter's life. And finally Erin, raised by her grandmothers in the absence of her mother. 

Erin recently returned from a gig with the opera in Italy. Anna suspects something is going on -- Erin was contracted to be in Italy for three years and returned to Kidron without so much as a word -- and now they know why. Erin is expecting. Soon there will be six generations of Keller women on the farm. Six women who share Anna's genes. Six women who could be the key to Dr. Amrit Hashmi's longtime search for the truth about aging, and a solution to it altogether. In the Keller's blood, he hopes to find the secret of their longevity, but his arrival stirs up secrets each generation has been careful to keep to themselves. 

First I just have to say The Roots of the Olive Tree is a lush and amazing read. As rich and layered as a good olive oil itself!

Santo's debut features an ensemble cast story -- there is no main character. Instead, the narrator alternates, giving readers a fair amount of each woman's story. Santo does this so well that the reader also gets to learn a good deal about each character in spite of the number of narrators. Not only that, but in handling so many characters, one would think that the different voices of the women themselves might get muddied, but this is definitely not the case.

As the story progresses, even more about the family is revealed. Anna's secret comes earliest in the tale as it's the initial story stirred up by the arrival of Hashmi, the geneticist. And each section of the book ends with a little bit from the doctor himself.

Whether it truly is the olive oil that's the secret to their longevity or simply the bonds of family, I'll leave it to you to discover. Santo's tale is lush in detail and the Keller women completely suck you in. Suffice it to say this is one fabulous story!

Readers who want to sample  a taste of Santo's work should know that HarperCollins is offering a free e prequel, Under the Olive Tree, a short story that takes place two years before The Roots of the Olive Tree, as Erin is preparing to leave for Italy. The story also comes with a sample excerpt of Roots to get you started.

Roots of the Olive Tree officially hits shelves today. I guarantee you'll want to run out and grab a copy after reading the excerpt!

For more on Courtney Miller Santo, visit her official website (above). You can also like her on Facebook, and follow here on Twitter. And finally, if you're on Pinterest, check out her boards!

To see the rest of the stops on the tour, visit the official TLC tour page here.


Lori's Reading Corner said...

This sounds amazing. Just downloaded it. Thanks for the great review!

Becky LeJeune said...

Yay, Lori! I do hope you love it!

Heather J. @ TLC Book Tours said...

Wow, this one sounds GREAT! Thanks for the review for the tour - I'm featuring it on TLC's Facebook page today.