Not My Father's Son: A Memoir

  • by Alan Cumming
  • Narrated by Alan Cumming
  • 6 hrs and 28 mins
  • Unabridged Audiobook

Publisher's Summary

Audie Award, Autobiography/Memoir, 2015
Dark, painful memories can be like a cage. Or, in the case of Alan Cumming, they can be packed away in a box, stuck in the attic to be forgotten. Until one day the box explodes and all the memories flood back in horrible detail. Alan Cumming 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.
When television producers approached Alan to appear on a popular celebrity genealogy show in 2010, he enthusiastically agreed. He hoped to solve a mystery that had long cast a shadow over his family. His maternal grandfather, Tommy Darling, had disappeared into the Far East after WWII. Alan's mother knew very little about him - he had been a courier, carrying information between battalions on his motorbike. The last time she saw her father, Alan's mother was eight years old. When she was 13, the family was informed that he had died by his own hand, an accidental shooting.
But this was not the only mystery laid before Alan's feet. His father, whom Alan had not seen or spoken to for more than a decade, 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 his very core and set into motion a journey that would change Alan's life forever.
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 the celebrated actor of film, television, and stage. At times suspenseful, at times deeply 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.

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful

If You've Been Through Something Similar...

I think anyone who listen's to Mr. Cummings memoir will find it hard to stop. For those of us who have experienced an extremely difficult childhood this will prove to be an especially poignant listening experience. I identify with so many of the things he went through and his subsequent reaction both as a child and an adult.

Rest assured, this book is no downer. On the contrary, it is uplifting. Mr. Cummings points out how all of his experiences have contributed to the person he is today. He seems like a funny, talented, and kind soul with a zest for life.

If you already appreciate his work you will love him even more. If you aren't yet familiar with his work, this book will make want to rent his previous films.

Definitely give this one a listen.
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- Angie "Best way for a busy mama to still enjoy books!"

A Memoir For Mystery Lovers

Not My Father's Son: A Memoir by Alan Cumming

I did not feel as if I was listening to a memoir while I listened to Alan Cumming read this remarkable book. Cumming somehow infused the memoir with so much suspense that I felt like I was reading a mystery; a really good mystery. Cumming's memoir follows the pattern of many current mystery so by alternating from the present to the past.

The past is Cumming's horrific childhood with an abusive, and probably mentally ill father. The present is the filming of a British television show which will delve into his ancestry and which he hopes will shed light on the death of his maternal grandfather in Malaysia after World War II. The writing is taut and effective causing me to race through the book seeking answers the mysteries which unfold.


I laughed; I cried and I thoroughly enjoyed the ride! Highly recommended!
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- BG853 "Barbara G"

Book Details

  • Release Date: 10-07-2014
  • Publisher: HarperAudio