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The family tree
Carole Cadwalladr
Adult Fiction CADWALLAD

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From Publishers' Weekly:

The ease with which British journalist Cadwalladr spins three generational tales in her debut is outdone only by the grace and wit with which she delivers each one. Set in late-20th-century Britain, the novel is narrated by Rebecca Monroe, a pop culture researcher who tells of her marriage to Alistair, a behavioral geneticist; her childhood leading up to her mother's suicide; and her grandmother's doomed biracial romance with Cecil, a Jamaican immigrant. In an effort to better understand herself, the child she can't decide whether or not to have, and the people she still can't believe make up her family, Rebecca considers both sides of the nature/nurture debate, with any romantic notions she might be on the brink of reaching debunked by her husband's passionless scientific postulations. Cadwalladr explicates her tale with a slew of definitions, scientific charts and graphs, detailed family anatomies, examples of deductive fallacies and footnotes expounding on such essential '70s pop culture references as Dallas and The Sale of the Century. Her mastery of time and place, wry humor and sporadic bouts of self-doubt will endear her to readers, while her fascination with the choices people make combined with a morbid curiosity about her own fate add depth and texture to this utterly winning tale of one lovable, dysfunctional family. Agent, Deborah Schneider. (Jan.) Forecast: This book rolls the pleasures of Jonathan Franzen, Zadie Smith and David Sedaris into an "as told to" by Margaret Mead package that's sure to find a large and very enthusiastic audience. To judge from bookseller blurbs, this'll be a hot handsell and a natural for reading groups. (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved

From Library Journal:

Genetic predisposition figures prominently in this tender coming-of-age novel in which Rebecca Monroe, a Welsh sociologist, struggles to understand her troubled family history. Three situations intersect-Rebecca's sterile marriage to Alistair, a geneticist who employs her as a test subject in his research on hereditary mental illness; her Seventies childhood, in which her youthful misunderstandings were as dangerous as they were innocent; and, in the more distant past, her grandmother's scandalous love affair with a young Jamaican. As she worries about her grandmother's slide into Alzheimer's disease, Rebecca begins to make sense of her mother's unhappiness and instability, an understanding that culminates in a spectacular flame-out at the family celebration of the marriage of Charles and Diana. Chapters begin with dictionary definitions, contain footnotes explaining Seventies cultural signposts such as Love Story and Dallas, and make use of diagrams and charts. This promising debut, which effortlessly combines pathos and humor, is recommended for public libraries.-Barbara Love, Kingston Frontenac P.L., Ont. (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

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main characters Rebecca Monroe
Married to a geneticist who doesn't want children.

Rebecca's mother.

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