Family & Ancestry


Family

Q. Your books are often concerned with family relationships and ancestry. Are you part of a large family yourself, and is that important to you?

A. Yes to both questions. I belong to a huge extended family network of cousins that runs literally into the hundreds. Whenever we are living near, we are in and out of each other's houses; far apart, we always keep in touch. We're people from all walks of life.

Q. Your family is widely spread around the globe?

A. My close family includes citizens of Britain, Australia, New Zealand, France, and the USA. My own kids are American. By the time you get to second and third cousins, the net gets wider.

Q. And several religious faiths?

A. We can do Church of England, Church of Scotland, Catholic, Quaker, Christian Scientist, Jewish, Agnostic, atheist and I believe a Buddhist. And that's the close family. Big families give you a sense of balance.

Q. A sense of history too, perhaps.

A. You can see it at family gatherings. Thanks to the span of generations you can get with large families, my own son has met six generations of his family before reaching the age of twenty. So if he lives to a good age, he could finish by knowing nine generations. That's a total span of lives of about two hundred and seventy years. Add to that the stories the old ones told about the people they remember, and you have a Rutherfurd novel.

Did You Know?
Potatoes were made illegal in France for 24 years ! The French became convinced that the South American vegetable could cause a whole host of diseases, including leprosy, so in 1748, the cultivation and consumption of potatoes was strictly outlawed. It wasn’t until an imprisoned medical army officer named Antoine Auguste Parmentier survived in his prison cell subsisting solely on a diet of potatoes that acceptance of the food began to shift. After being released from prison, Parmentier went on to write a thesis about its health benefits, helping to overturn the law and re-introduce the potato to the French public in 1772. Within 20 years, potatoes became one of the most popular, and indeed, important foods in France. Even the ornamental royal gardens in Tuileres Palace in Paris - originally filled with flowers and exotic plants - were converted into potato fields.




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