The Family Tree by Carole Cadwalladr

January 1, 2005
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The Family Tree
Carole Cadwalladr

Dutton
1/01/2005
Trade Paperback/390 pages
ISBN: 0-525-94842-2
Buy This Book
www.amazon.com

 

 

"The Family Tree . . . redefines the novel as art and as truth."

"Charles Darwin and Gregory Mendel knew a lot about genetics, but they didn?t know American television and culture would change everything."

Rebecca Monroe has decided to go back to school and get a Ph.D. in popular culture. Her dissertation combines genetics with her own experience and knowledge of the 70s. The results will change her life.

 

 

 

Charles Darwin and Gregory Mendel knew a lot about genetics, but they didn’t know American television and culture would change everything.

 

Rebecca Monroe’s husband, Alistair, knows a lot about genetics, but he knows very little about the human heart. Scientists disagree whether our genes determine who we are or if the way humans are raised defines and shapes personality. Meanwhile, Rebecca is a willing, although unwitting, guinea pig for Alistair’s studies into inherited mental illness. As Rebecca sifts through the ashes of the past and the burning embers of the present, reconstructing her family history, she teaches Alistair that the Americanization of Britain is a more powerful force than the genes he meticulously catalogs and that there are no certainties in science—or in life.

 

The Family Tree is Carole Cadwalladr’s debut novel and it raises the bar for future authors. Cadwalladr breaks from the pack and pens her novel as a dissertation that shares more with serial television than the dry, barely readable pages of an academic thesis. She measures the past through the lens of popular culture, specifically American television and products, as she struggles to match the emerging theories resulting from mapping the human genome with the secrets she uncovers in her family and herself. The Family Tree is in a class by itself and redefines the novel as art and as truth.

Reviewer: J. M. Cornwell

 

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