THE ROOTS OF THE OLIVE TREE

Courtney Miller Santo

Set in Northern California, a beautiful and touching debut novel that brings to life five generations of women, the secrets that divide them, and the love that ultimately brings them together.

Meet the Keller family, five generations of firstborn women—a line of daughters unbroken—living together in the same house in a secluded olive grove in the Sacramento Valley of Northern California.

Anna, the family matriarch, is 112 and determined to become the oldest living woman 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,

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Set in Northern California, a beautiful and touching debut novel that brings to life five generations of women, the secrets that divide them, and the love that ultimately brings them together.

Meet the Keller family, five generations of firstborn women—a line of daughters unbroken—living together in the same house in a secluded olive grove in the Sacramento Valley of Northern California.

Anna, the family matriarch, is 112 and determined to become the oldest living woman 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: all are defying longevity norms. Their unusual lifespans have caught the attraction 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. There are some truths that need to stay hidden, she believes, 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 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 and 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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  • William Morrow
  • Hardcover
  • August 2012
  • 320 Pages
  • 9780062130518

Buy the Book

$25.99

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About Courtney Miller Santo

Courtney Miller Santo learned to share the stories that come to her from her great-grandmother, who lives in Northern California. She teaches creative writing at University of Memphis, where she received her MFA. She received 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, where she learned that no all stories are about kings and their palaces. Her work has appeared or is forthcoming in The Los Angeles Review, Irreantum, Sunstone, and Seagulls.

Praise

“I am fascinated with the generations and the secrets that unfold. The characters are marvelous and Courtney Miller Santo paints the California Central Valley so vividly that I could feel the wind and hear it rustle through the leaves of the olive trees.”Elaine Petrocell, Book Passage, Corte Madera, CA

“This is a thought-provoking tale of a family of long-lived women. These are all extraordinary women who hold even more extraordinary secrets, from each other and sometimes from themselves. You’ll want to talk about this book as soon as possible, stop at your closest olive bar and stock up, and allow yourself into the world of The Roots of the Olive Tree.”Valerie Koehler, Blue Willow Bookshop, Houston, TX