REVIEW: Not My Father’s Son by Alan Cumming

Originally published 2015-08-05: Not My Father’s Son by Alan Cumming | Book Review Wednesday

Let me start this out with a confession: I adore Alan Cumming.

He’s a great actor, and he came to my attention in no small part by his work on The Good Wife. (I didn’t want to like The Good Wife, but my own good wife sucked me into it and got me pathologically hooked. I’m sad to see it gone.) Eli Gold is a multi-faceted character that I love, and sometimes love to hate.

And, honestly? Alan Cumming is precious.

So it came as no great surprise when Mr. Cumming’s memoir, Not My Father’s Son, was recommended to me on Amazon. I clicked on it, thinking, “I wonder what shenanigans he’ll be talking about in this book? Surely it will be a light-hearted romp into the gaiety of his life and personality.

cover of memoir Not My Father's Son by Alan Cumming

Boy, was I ever wrong.

Description

In his unique and engaging voice, the acclaimed actor of stage and screen shares the emotional story of his complicated relationship with his father and the deeply buried family secrets that shaped his life and career.

A beloved star of stage, television, and film—“one of the most fun people in show business” (Timemagazine)—Alan Cumming is a successful artist whose diversity and fearlessness is unparalleled. His success masks a painful childhood growing up under the heavy rule of an emotionally and physically abusive father—a relationship that tormented him long into adulthood.

When television producers in the UK approached him to appear on a popular celebrity genealogy show in 2010, Alan enthusiastically agreed. He hoped the show would solve a family mystery involving his maternal grandfather, a celebrated WWII hero who disappeared in the Far East. But as the truth of his family ancestors revealed itself, Alan learned far more than he bargained for about himself, his past, and his own father.

With ribald humor, wit, and incredible insight, Alan seamlessly moves back and forth in time, integrating stories from his childhood in Scotland and his experiences today as a film, television, and theater star. At times suspenseful, deeply moving, and wickedly funny, Not My Father’s Son will make readers laugh even as it breaks their hearts.

My Rating

Not My Father’s Son: A Memoir is a great big trigger warning waiting to happen. From the beginning, you learn about Alan’s violent upbringing by a father who can only be described as fiercely mentally ill.

The savagery with which Alan was treated as a child is hard to read, even knowing that he would grow up to be a successful and seemingly-happy man. In short, it’s amazing this man came out the other end as normal as he did.

His memoir discusses childhood abuse and his relationship with his father, but it also touches on other parts of his life. He details at great length the love he has for his mother, Mary Darling, and his brother, Tom.

In Not My Father’s Son, Alan learns about his grandfather’s last years through the popular television documentary, Who Do You Think You Are?, and brings his remaining family closer together. I give this book five of five stars. I devoured this book, and highly recommend it, even to those who aren’t fans of this charismatic actor.

Buy it on Amazon | iBooks | Kobo

 

These are affiliate links; click to buy your copy & I get a percentage of the sale, but it doesn’t cost you any more than your regular purchases.

 

 

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