The Book Mark

Books that make the grade.

The Roots of the Olive Tree

I was able to get a preview copy of The Roots of the Olive Tree (D) by Courtney Miller Santo for just a few dollars on my e-reader.  I thought it sounded interesting enough to give it a try. It was worth the money I paid and not much more.  I found it rather long and bland.

It is about five generations of women each with their own story to tell and secrets to keep.  The matriarch of the family, Anna is determined to be the oldest person alive.  The women live together on the family olive farm. Each are there for their own reasons not least of which is raising olives.  A geneticist has contacted them so that he can study and interview them for his research.  What he discovers starts to unravel secrets long kept.

The novel held a lot of promise but in the end became one long -winded accounting by each character about their life.  I looked for a moral to the stories but there were no outstanding lessons to be learned here.  The roots of the olive tree are old and well established in the soil.  Year after year, they bear fruit, some years with more of a struggle than others.  The properties of the olives are thought by some to hold the key to a long life; for others they are just olives.

Revealing the family secrets is rather anti-climatic mostly because they come as no surprise to the reader.  They are hinted at throughout the story and for me it only became a matter of time and tons of pages before they were openly discussed. I think The Roots of the Olive Tree is a fair effort and with a lot of tweaking it might have been more fruitful.  As for now, if it looks like an olive, tastes like an olive, and smells like an olive; it’s just an olive. Try adding a martini to the olive for some pleasure while reading this debut novel.



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