But is the genealogy of the person, their ancestor's story and history, really that important to the life you are reading about? Can the struggles and accomplishments of the subject's great grandfather have any point or purpose to the life you are studying?
Recently completing the biography of Julia Child, Dearie by Bob Spitz, I was faced with these questions. As the story of Julia begins, the author describes the trials and triumphs of Julia's ancestor's rise to wealth; a grandfather who created a family fortune from panning gold in California, leading to vast land and banking acquisitions.
A story of a man two generations removed from Julia; a man that many would consider of little influence or importance to Julia herself.
And to be honest, I found myself yawning as I meandered through the genealogical history of Julia Child. I felt the author could have given more 'ump', more 'wow', as he described the family history of a woman full of perseverance, strength and independence.
A woman that was so groundbreaking and revolutionary that her French cookbook for American housewives and her live cooking shows were the springboard to today's Food Network and 'foodie' craze.
Perseverance, strength, independence, and revolutionary: words that could describe not only Julia Child, but her ancestors and the grandfather who built her family fortune.
So yes, Julia Child's genealogy is quite relevant to understanding her life and who she became. Gaining a deeper perspective of who came before her gives the reader a more meaningful understanding of Julia herself.
Our lives are not held within a vacuum. We are who we are because of who came before us. Even if they never touched us, they are still apart of whom we have become.
Write your family history, your genealogy, in your memoir so your future generations will understand what made you who you are and who you will be.
But please, when you write your ancestor's story, give the reader a little 'ump' and 'wow.'
Keep searching for answers,