Quotes from the book “Cousins: A Unique and Powerful Bond”


So I began reading this book, as part of my own research, and wanted to share excerpts from it for the blog. 🙂 The book is called, Cousins: A Unique and Powerful Bond, by Johanna Garfield – Published in 2000. I will type up more relevant sections as I come across them (especially the stuff about cousin marriage later on). But here are some bits from the Introduction:


‘They’re all been explored, analyzed, chronicled: mothers and sons, mothers and daughters, fathers and sons, fathers and daughters, brothers and sisters. But the cousin relationship has, up to now, received surprisingly little attention. Why? Described by one friend as “magical siblings,” the relationship can vary from genuine friendship to utter indifference, from love to hate, can have sexual overtones, and can reverberate throughout the memories of childhood and family with much of the same emotional intensity as that reserved for genuine siblings.’ -page xv, Introduction.

’[…] I was able to talk with Anna Quindlen, formerly author of the much admired New York Times column, “Life in the Thirties,” and later a regular on the Op-Ed page, about many aspects of her cousin relationships. Like me and like the Kennedys, she’d grown up surrounded by an enormous group of cousins, with many of whom she remains extremely close to this day. Referring to the issue of cousins’ importance in her life, she said, “I think it’s a real interesting issue, because about half the people I know I don’t even have to discuss this with, because it’s so much a part of their lives, too. The other half are people who are totally perplexed by it. Like, each of their parents had maybe one sibling, and they lived in Arizona or somewhere else far away. And they just don’t understand.”’

She also told me that she based a number of the characters in her novel Object Lessons on her cousins, and that it includes a number of cousin relationships.’ –page xxi-xxii, Introduction.

‘I began to remember other books I’d read – books besides Eight Cousins [by Louisa May Alcott] – in which cousin relationships were important. The close friendship between the two male cousins in Laurie Colwin’s novel, Happy All the Time, for instance, or the tragic love between cousins Simon and Mariella in Rosamond Lehmann’s Dusty Answer, a novel I found deeply moving as an adolescent.’ –page xxi-xxii, Introduction.

‘In two more recent novels, Mary Gordon’s The Other Side and Ursula Perrin’s The Looking-Glass Lover, cousin relationships are central to the stories. Jane Austen’s books are full of cousinly romances and cousinly friendships, and she herself received a marriage proposal from a cousin.’ -page xxi-xxii, Introduction.

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