“Dark painful memories can be put away to be forgotten. Until one day they all flood back in horrible detail.
When television producers approached Alan Cumming to appear on a popular celebrity genealogy show, he hoped to solve the mystery of his mental grandfather’s disappearance that had long cast a shadow over his family. But this was not the only mystery laid before Alan.
Alan 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 Alex Cumming, Alan’s father whom Alan had not seen or spoken to for more than a decade when he reconnected just before filming for Who Do You Think You Are? began. He had a secret he had to share, one that would shock his son to the very core and set into motion a journey that would change Alan’s life forever.
With a bald humour, wit and incredible insight, Alan seamlessly moves back and forth in time, integrating stories from his childhood in Scotland and his experiences today as the celebrated actor of film, television and stage. At times suspenseful, at times clearly moving, but always incredibly brave and honest. Not My Father’s Son is a powerful story of embracing the best aspects of the past and triumphantly pushing the darkness aside.
Why did I choose to listen to this book?
I watched Cumming’s interview in Philadelphia on Livestream a while ago. I was curious to find out his route to acting was more than just an act of utter determination but a better way of life than the one he had. During the interview he explained the title’s origins of his autobiography, which I will leave for you to find out about if you haven’t read or listened to it. What happened between Alan and his father is not something I would wish on anyone, but it still shocked me how a father could treat his sons like this. Mental illness or no mental illness.
What do I think about this book?
Firstly, I have a new found respect for Alan Cumming. It was so shocking but really moving account of living with someone like Cumming’s father. But read this book and admire what a life Alan has created for himself and look how he has proved his abilities, isn’t that endearing?
Secondly, this book might not have happened or it might have taken a longer period of time to write, had it not been for the show Who Do You Think You Are? in Blighty. It’s quite the measure of a man/woman who are awkwardly thrown dodgeballs whether they are expected or not, it’s another to successfully hold yourself with dignity throughout the whole thing. Alan does this with a smile on his face and with the full support of the rest of his supportive family behind him.
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