“Equal parts memoir, whodunit, and manual for living . . . a beautifully written, honest look at the forces of blood and bone that make us who we are, and how we make ourselves.” --Neil Gaiman
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” (Time magazine)—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.
Scottish actor Cumming struggles to reconcile with his troubled past in this moving, if oddly structured, memoir. Alternating between three time periods "Then," "Now," and a span of several months in 2010 Cumming recounts his life on a rural Scottish estate under the brutal reign of his abusive father, Alex. Equally violent toward Cumming's older brother, Tom, Alex was a defining force in Cumming's life, with the emotional and physical scars of his beatings affecting Cumming long after he left home for drama school at age 17. In a parallel narrative, Cumming recounts his experiences as a participant on Britain's Who Do You Think You Are?, a television program on which celebrities explore their pasts, often going so far as to get genetic tests. Even as issues closer to home involving Cumming's ties, or lack thereof, to his father arise (as the book's title might suggest), Cumming is determined to delve into his family history: and find out what happened to his maternal grandfather, Lieutenant Tommy Darling, who served his country in WWII and ended up suspiciously dead several years later in Malaysia, where he was a member of the police force. While the particulars Cumming learns about Darling are striking and memorable, this really is a case where the journey is more important than the destination.
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Incredible story, incredible life.
Thank you for this poignant book. Alan is an amazing man who has given us all insight to the suffering with his father. I grew up in a family of fourteen children. My father provided for us but never said he loved me or at least I don't remember him saying it to me. We grew estranged as the years went by so I have an idea of what Alan went thru. He is a better man than he father ever was because even after all that he went thru he forgave him. I enjoyed learning that his mother was a good wife and mother, much like my mother was. I love watching him act and I try to catch anything that he is in. I couldn't put the book down. It was a story I wanted to continue reading until the end. Thank You Alan.
Good book, well written, reads like a mystery.
I do wish however that he had not said in the acknowledgements "I forgive you". Such treatment of a child should never, ever be forgiven....
I love him even more...
... for his honesty and ability to see through the forest of thorns that was his youth!! For anyone who has grown up under the hand of bad parenting and learned to be a better person because of it... this story is a must read!!