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My Father's Fortune: A Life Paperback – 1 Sep 2011

4.2 out of 5 stars 34 customer reviews

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Product details

  • Paperback: 272 pages
  • Publisher: Faber & Faber; Main edition (1 Sept. 2011)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 057127059X
  • ISBN-13: 978-0571270590
  • Product Dimensions: 12.6 x 1.7 x 19.8 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (34 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 108,923 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Review

'This lovely, loving memoir is an attempt to quantify that legacy, written with effortless humour and grace.' -- Metro >> 'It's often very funny, always very interesting, and soaked in a wistful sort of melancholy that sometimes deepens into a compelling sadness... Frayn has written books that make a bigger bang than this, but none so that is so touching.' -- Andrew Motion, Guardian >> 'A profound delight... With deft, witty touches, he resurrects the past.' -- Charlotte Moore, Spectator >> 'My Father's Fortune shows him at his very best. He expresses in a few words what it would take other writers several paragraphs to convey... And of course he is also extremely funny, possessing a quietly ironic tone that is pleasantly teasing and often self-mocking...the ease and fluidity of Frayn's prose... In the end, Frayn has written a letter of love not just to his father, but to his mother too.' -- Elizabeth Day, Observer >> 'A profoundly affecting study of family myths and legends.' -- DJ Taylor, Financial Times >> 'Forever alert to the inner processes of art and mind Frayn from time to time cuts away and nips backstage to show how the memoir machinery works. Yet, almost miraculously, this keen self-awareness never compromises the deep poignancy - and the rich comedy - of the story he has to tell. Here, as always, that's part of the trick of it for Frayn.' -- Boyd Tonkin, Independent >> 'What Frayn presents us with is an effort to establish his own identity by exploring "the unknown place" represented in his origins. It is, as one would expect from so accomplished a writer, beautifully done... he is wonderfully good on atmosphere.' -- New Statesman >> '[A] vividly written and moving memoir.' -- Evening Standard >> 'The comic gifts of one of our best contemporary writers are not wasted in this memoir. A very English story told in a very English way.' -- Daily Telegraph >> 'Marvellous memoir ... a writer who has long been one of our most engrossingly inquiring minds, Frayn has never written with more searching brilliance than in this quest for his past.' -- --Sunday Times 'Our Choice'

'Heartfelt memoir.' -- The Times >> 'Frayn's beautifully written memoir of suburban family life is both funny and deeply moving.' --Guardian

Book Description

Shortlisted for the Costa Book Awards in 2010, My Father's Fortune, Michael Frayn's searching and moving memoir, sets out to discover his family's past.

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Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
An excellent read. Particularly enjoyed it as I am familiar with the places described.
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Format: Kindle Edition
This is a factual account of Michael Frayn's father, and of his own early life. Everyone may have at least one book in them, and many of those books will be family memoirs; but the difference here is that Frayn knows how to write and that in some ways he had a highly unusual life. Reading the memoir brought back my own childhood, though my circumstances were very different.

I particularly like the description of the central importance of smoking in British life, prior to say 1960, when the fear of lung cancer started to undermine it. It was an innocent world, where there were no 'health warnings' and where we all used to give the grownups special cigarettes, and lighters, and cigarette cases for Christmas; and the family GP offered cigarettes while visiting sick relatives. 'It helps you to relax', he would say.
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Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
I've been a fan of Michael Frayn's since I was about sixteen and lucky enough to come across his columns in the old Manchester Guardian. Since then I have read everything he has written; some of his books several times over, so don't expect criticism from me. I admire and respect his work and the man behind it. This book has taught me more about his life than I would ever have had the nerve to ask him about but I am not surprised to discover that he is kind, gentle and honest. A person that I am glad to have had with me all my adult life. I would suggest that purchasers buy a hard copy of the book. It contains quite a few photographs that you really want to study and the Kindle edition is hopeless at reproducing them.
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Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
This is the story of Tom Frayn's life and the legacy that left on his son, the author. It is, as you would expect, beautifully written and a gripping read. Frayn is breathtakingly honest about his own weaknesses and his lack of understanding of his father, and indeed of other people he now understands far better than he did when they were alive. There are some great characters in this book, and they are vividly brought back to life through the gentle touch of an extremely good writer with obvious affection for them.
The good times and the bad are given equal billing, making this an emotional but entertaining book to read.
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Format: Paperback
My Father's Fortune: A Life
Although this is ostensibly the story of Frayn's father's life, it is really about Frayn himself. As such it is a fascinating record not only of an upwardly mobile family in the years leading up to, through and after the second world war, but the of the making of one our best-known and best-loved writers and playwrights. If, like me , you are old enough to remember the war and its aftermath, 'My Father's Fortune' summons up all kinds of memories of that period. A most enjoyable read.
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Format: Paperback
My introduction to Michael Frayn's writing was 'Spies' which I enjoyed last year. Spies
'My Father's Fortune' is a family memoir and I can see where the storyline of 'Spies' had its origin. This is wistful, amusing, and gentle account of his father 'Tommy Frayn' and his relationship with Michael and the rest of the family. His father's life was one in difficult times, leaving school at 14 to earn a living to support his mother and sister. That burden caused him to postpone marriage to his childhood sweetheart for many years. Then when they had established a home and a young family in suburbia, the second world war again shook their lives. What the Germans did to them was small in its effect in comparison to the consequences of the personal tragedy which subsequently hit this little family.

Many of today's memoirs relate in clinical detail the conversations and events of childhood 40 or 50 or more years ago, this one is different. There is no spurious instant recall but more a piecing together of that past into an account which is all the more authentic and touching because of what is not clearly remembered. It is a witty book which made me smile but also one scattered with regrets of what went unsaid between son and father and now it is too late. The end of the book is very touching and when complete I laid it down with a sigh.
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I hadn't realised that the author and I were at the same school, though he attended before I was there, and his memories of the Rev J B Lawton caning 20 boys before breakfast at Sutton High School in Surrey are spot on! I took it to an Old Boys' lunch at Christmas and read the appropriate extracts to the small company to hoots of laughter and recognition. As an avid reader of memoir I enjoyed this book hugely, the added spice of personal experience simply added to it.
John Catanach
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I think it's not excusable in an author to write for publication what is virtually an autobiography, and state repeatedly that one's behaviour and actions at important times of life to be "not understandable". If that's the case, the book shouldn't have been published. Otherwise it was a good read, reminiscent of Alan Bennett's work, but not quite so funny. I think the subject isn't so special; he just had a very talented son, it seems to me, the "Fortune" of the title?
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