Review: Not My Father's Son

Not My Father's Son
by Alan Cumming

I picked up this audiobook because it seemed like it might be interesting, and because it was short. I'm not usually one for celebrity autobiographies, and while I know who Alan Cumming is, seeing him host Masterpiece Mystery is about all I know of him, so short seemed like a good thing. As it turns out, this isn't your typical celebrity autobiography but more a book of childhood abuse and family revelations.

Alan Cumming juxtaposes two stories together. One of the abuse his father heaped on him, his brother and mother; how they coped with it and how it impacted them. The second of his appearance on the British TV show "Who Do You Think You Are?", a genealogy show where the true circumstances around his maternal grandfather's death after WWII was revealed, a story no one in the family knew.

Listening to the audiobook is probably the right way to take in this book. Cumming himself narrates, and his voice is so distinctive it definitely adds weight. Weaving the two stories together, with crucial events from both actually taking place closely in time, also adds weight. You do feel the strength of Cumming's emotion and the book does take you along for some of the roller coaster ride he went through.

This book is, I think, a case where the whole is greater than the sum of its parts. Each story, while interesting and worthwhile topics in and of themselves, might not justify a book. And Cumming acknowledges some of that toward the end. But the two of them weaved together as they are, while they might not blow you away, do make for a worthwhile read.

I rate Not My Father's Son 3 Stars ⭐⭐⭐ - I liked it. If you are a fan of Alan Cumming, of genealogy, or of tales of overcoming child abuse, you might like it too.

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