Not My Father's Son : A Family Memoir Hardback
by Alan Cumming
"One of the most memorable, heart-stopping autobiographies I have ever read." (Stephen Fry a New York Times Bestseller).
Alan Cumming grew up in the grip of a man who held his family hostage, someone who meted out violence with a frightening ease, who waged a silent war with himself that sometimes spilled over onto everyone around him.
That man was Alan's father, Alex Cumming. Alex was the dark, enigmatic heart of Cumming family life.
But he was not the only mystery. Alan's maternal grandfather, Tommy Darling, had disappeared to the Far East after the Second World War. The last time Alan's mother saw her father she was eight years old.
When she was thirteen, the family was informed that he had died in an accidental shooting.
Curious to explore this second mystery, Alan committed to filming an episode of the BBC's Who Do You Think You Are?
Then out of the blue, his father, who Alan and his brother had not seen or spoken to for more than a decade, called.
He had a secret he had to share, one that would shock his son to his very core and set in motion a journey that would change Alan's life forever. At times suspenseful, at times deeply moving, but always brave and honest, Not My Father's Son is a powerful story about embracing the best aspects of the past and triumphantly pushing the darkness aside.
- Format: Hardback
- Pages: 304 pages, integrated b&w illustrations throughout
- Publisher: Canongate Books Ltd
- Publication Date: 30/10/2014
- Category: Individual actors & directors
- ISBN: 9781782115441
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Review by Helenliz
This is not a book that is easy to listen to. The mental and physical abuse meted out by a father to his sons is hard to listen to. It is tempered by the fact that the past features in short sections, so that it is not unremitting. The present also features in the story and you can see that (with considerable help) Alan has tried to deal with his past and accept it. It's a memoir, but of a very particular time and aspect of his life. Triggered by the invitation to appear on the BBC genealogy programme "Who do you think you are?" Alan's father suddenly announces that Alan is not his son. The progression of the programme, with the revelations by his father, is interspersed with the tales of his childhood. It is not as unrelentingly hard as it might be. He clearly loves is mother and adores his granny - the passages about here were the most joyful of the entire book - even her funeral had me smiling through my tears. He also tries to be fair to his childhood - it wasn;t all bad, there were good times, but they are islands in a sea of fear and unhappiness. It sounds awful. However the books is written with a wry humour throughout, and listening to it as read by the author it was maybe not as harrowing as it might have been.There is a caution - this is not an easy or comfortable read - but it was a very good listen.