Excerpt from The Family Tree by Carole Cadwalladr, plus links to reviews, author biography & more

Summary |  Excerpt |  Reading Guide |  Reviews |  Readalikes |  Genres & Themes |  Author Bio

The Family Tree

by Carole Cadwalladr

The Family Tree by Carole Cadwalladr X
The Family Tree by Carole Cadwalladr
  • Critics' Opinion:

    Readers' Opinion:

     Not Yet Rated
  • First Published:
    Jan 2005, 416 pages
    Nov 2005, 416 pages

  • Rate this book

Buy This Book

About this Book

Print Excerpt

And it's true, I have my grandmother's skin (sallow) and my mother's hair (mouse). But I can't blame them for what happened. I can't blame anybody. Or at least I can't blame anyone other than myself. I, Rebecca Monroe, take full responsibility for most of what happened. And the rest? I put it down to chance. Poor timing. Bad luck. It's not a fashionable theory, but then this was the seventies. It's probably best to try and leave fashion out of it.

1.2 family n 1 : a fundamental social group in society typically consisting of one or two parents and their children.

"Missionary position," said Lucy. "Name given by amused Polynesians, who preferred squatting to the European matrimonial. Libel on one of the most rewarding sex positions."

We were lying on her parents' bed, leafing through the pages of our latest discovery.

"Who's Polly Neezhuns?"

Lucy looked up, her dark hair swinging around her face, and shrugged.

"Croupade. Any position in which he takes her squarely from behind; i.e., all rear-entry positions except those where she has one leg between his or is half turned on her side. See Cuissade."

There was a pause as we both tried to configure this in our minds.

"What does it say under Cuissade?"

We both pronounced it Cue-is-aid. They didn't teach French at Middleton Primary School.

"Cue-is-aid," said Lucy, enunciating the words carefully. She was using her newsreader- announcing-the-unemployment-figures voice. "The half-rear entry position, where she turns her back to him and he enters with one of her legs between his and the other more or less drawn up: in some versions she lies half turned on her side for him, still facing away."

We stared at the picture accompanying this particular passage in the book. The illustration was smudgy and drawn by hand, but there was definitely a man with no clothes on. He seemed to be holding some sort of broom pole. It was rude, that much was sure. Possibly very rude. Poor Lucy. I felt a pang of pity for my cousin, for it was in her parents' bedroom, specifically her father's, Uncle Kenneth's, sock drawer, that we had found the book. She didn't seem to mind though. She was already flicking to the next section on "Coitus à la Florentine."

"Loooooooooooooooooooooooocy!" Aunty Suzanne had a good pair of lungs on her, and although we were two flights up and separated by several doors, we jumped up, covered our find with Argyle wool socks and sprinted downstairs, arriving breathless in the kitchen.

"Yes!" We appeared under Aunty Suzanne's elbow.

"Ooh, you startled me. Do you want some milk and cookies?"

"Yes please!"

Aunty Suzanne arranged a liberal quantity of chocolate-chip cookies on a plate and poured us a glass of milk. I couldn't help thinking that America was probably a lot like this. At our house they were called "biscuits" and kept in a tin that was strictly off-limits.

"So?" said Aunty Suzanne, who was always trying to take an interest in her daughter's development. "What have you girls been up to?"

We looked at each other.


"Oh! Nothing at all?"

Aunty Suzanne looked at us expectantly through a pair of large round glasses. She had the same long dark hair as Lucy, although she covered hers with an orange silk scarf, tasseled at the edges. Of all the different kinds of mothers who waited at the school gates, Aunty Suzanne was by far the most exotic.

"Just playing," said Lucy. "Ripping stuff!"

Aunty Suzanne narrowed her eyes.

"I hope you haven't been reading those books again, have you?"

We looked at each other guiltily. How did she know?

"You know I don't approve of all those old-fashioned boarding school tales. They're terribly reactionary."

From The Family Tree by Carole Cadwalladr, pages 1-17. All rights reserved. No part of this book maybe reproduced without written permission from the publisher.

Membership Advantages
  • Reviews
  • "Beyond the Book" backstories
  • Free books to read and review (US only)
  • Find books by time period, setting & theme
  • Read-alike suggestions by book and author
  • Book club discussions
  • and much more!
  • Just $10 for 3 months or $35 for a year
  • More about membership!

Editor's Choice

  • Book Jacket: Treeborne
    by Caleb Johnson
    The Treeborne family has lived on The Seven – the local sobriquet for a seven-acre stretch of ...
  • Book Jacket
    by Paul Lynch
    Harrowing. Gorgeous. Epic. Grace, Paul Lynch's coming of age novel about a young woman, is set ...
  • Book Jacket: The Perfectionists
    The Perfectionists
    by Simon Winchester
    We seek precision in our lives every day. We want to drive from home to work and work to home safely...
  • Book Jacket: Beauty in the Broken Places
    Beauty in the Broken Places
    by Allison Pataki
    Ernest Hemingway wrote that we are "strong at the broken places," and Allison Pataki found that to ...

Book Discussion
Book Jacket
The Twelve-Mile Straight by Eleanor Henderson

An audacious American epic set in rural Georgia during the years of the Depression and Prohibition.

About the book
Join the discussion!

Readers Recommend

  • Book Jacket

    The Summer Wives
    by Beatriz Williams

    An electrifying postwar fable of love, class, power and redemption set on an island off the New England coast.
    Reader Reviews

  • Book Jacket

    Clock Dance
    by Anne Tyler

    A delightful novel of one woman's transformative journey, from the best-selling and Pulitzer Prize-winning writer.
    Reader Reviews

Win this book!
Win A Place for Us

A Place For Us

A deeply moving story of love, identity and belonging--the first novel from Sarah Jessica Parker's new imprint.


Word Play

Solve this clue:

H, W H A Problem

and be entered to win..

Books that     

 & enlighten

Visitors can view some of BookBrowse for free. Full access is for members only.

Join Today!

Your guide toexceptional          books

BookBrowse seeks out and recommends books that we believe to be best in class. Books that will whisk you to faraway places and times, that will expand your mind and challenge you -- the kinds of books you just can't wait to tell your friends about.