not my fathers sonDark, 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 thirteen, 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. (description from publisher)

Alice Teakle grows on you. In the beginning of Following Polly by Karen Bergreen, I thought Alice was pathetic and weird; I wasn’t sure I liked her. Her preoccupation, not to say, hobby, is following an old school mate, who is now a major celebrity. She seems particularly adept at sabotaging herself and any success she might achieve in work or family life.

As Alice’s  life starts to fall apart and she is the prime suspect in first one then another murder, I really began to respect her resourcefulness. Alice turns out to be amazingly adept at hiding from the police, and surviving on the streets.

No matter how bad things ge, Alice is funny and smart (she also has a photographic memory). She is definitely not a stereotypical heroine and the plot’s trajectory is not predictable.

the-family-manRecently retired and living a quiet and elegant life on the Upper West Side in New York City, Henry Archer unexpectedly gets a second chance with his step-daughter, someone he hasn’t seen for 25 years. Somehow these opposites – Henry is older, gay, successful, Thalia is an aspiring actress just scraping by – make a connection that benefits them both. Thalia brings sparkle and excitement into Henry’s world, as well as more than a few complications including the reappearance of his eccentric ex-wife, an introduction to the world of celebrity and a new love interest.

Lipman is the master of the modern comedy-of-manners story – her characters are real and likable (even the annoying ones), and the dialogue is sharp, witty and fast-paced. The situations our heroes find themselves in may be unlikely, but Lipman grounds them in reality and gives them heart. The Family Man will keep you laughing and wishing for more.