Tuesday, August 13, 2013

The Roots of the Olive Tree

This was one of the shorter book discussions we have had.  As the conversation progressed, it became apparent that we all had problems with the story.  For one thing, there really wasn't a likeable character in the cast.  Joanne took exception to the fact that Deb, who served 20 years for premeditated murder and then skipped parole, just dropped out of the story.  She felt that entirely unlikely.  It was established that she had a history of violent temper and then she ends up at an amusement park in Florida?

Carolyn and Connie said they knew the area of Corning, upon which the town of Kidron was based.  They felt she hadn't done her homework very well as the geography had huge implausibilities. 

We questioned the parentage of Bets' sons.  Given the time period, we acknowledged they would protect Frank's secret, and there was nothing to indicate that he had lovers.  Carolyn and Connie couldn't believe that Bets could come up with acceptable "sperm donors" in that vicinity at that time.  We didn't buy the Frank and Bets story and we especially didn't believe that a rest home would have allowed her to take two such seriously compromised patients as Frank and Guy on an outing when she herself was a nonagenarian. We also didn't buy the romance between Amrit and Callie. 

Jenny said - will someone please tell me the significance of the tortoise?!  Carolyn thought it was supposed to be Anna's natural mother and that's the best we could come up with.  The book seemed to drag on and repeat itself a lot but the ending is what we especially struggled with.  We didn't buy the convenient sale of Callie's store along that broken-down stretch of freeway and to an evangelizing truck driver who collaborated with a porn shop.  We didn't buy Callie's continued income from an online shop, selling olives from Pennsylvania. We had no idea who Erin married.  Was it Keller's father?  What happened to the trip to Australia??

We did think that Santo writes well but when Carolyn said that she has a second book coming out, based on cousins of these characters, there wasn't much interest.  This book did get good reviews and showed up on reading lists everywhere.  I bought my copy at Costco so they thought it was a good bet.  Flawed books can lend themselves to interesting discussions.  This was an interesting discussion.