Thursday, April 6, 2017

Not My Father's Son:A Memoir, by Alan Cumming (author, narrator)

HarperAudio, October 2014

Alan Cumming was asked to appear on the celebrity genealogy show Who Do You Think You Are in 2010. At that point, he assumed the focus of the show would be on a family mystery on his mother's side. Her father, Tommy Darling, had served in World War Two but never returned to the UK. He went off into the far east, and died in a shooting accident. Why didn't he ever come home?

But Alan Cumming had, to put it very mildly indeed, issues with his own father, Alex Cumming. He was verbally and physically abusive to Alan and his older brother Tom for years, and Alan hadn't, at the time he was approached for Who Do You Think You Are, spoken to him for many years.

Then shortly before filming started, Alex Cumming called Alan, to give him some shocking news, news he said he didn't want Alan to find out via the tv show.

Alan Cumming tells his story alternating among his childhood, the 2010 events surrounding the tv show, and his "present" as of 2014. It is in many ways a harrowing story, and yet in the telling of it Cumming is by turns insightful, moving, and funny. The weeks of the filming for the program become a wild ride, with revelations about his mother, his father, and the amazing true story about his grandfather, Tommy Darling.

Every family has secrets. Family secrets when revealed can bring both joy and heartbreak. Abuse in childhood causes terrible trauma, and that trauma can go underground for many years, resurfacing in later life to cause distress and psychological problems until it's addressed and dealt with. Cumming's story of his and his family's struggle with their past, and their recovery of Tommy Darling's story, is moving, engaging, and revealing.

Recommended.

I bought this audiobook.