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My Father's Fortune: A Life
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My Father's Fortune: A Life

3.87  ·  Rating details ·  211 Ratings  ·  40 Reviews
Winner of the PEN/Ackerley Prize

Award-winning playwright and novelist Michael Frayn "makes the family memoir his own" (The Daily Telegraph) as he tells the story of his father, Tom Frayn. A clever lad, an asbestos salesman with a winning smile and a racetrack vocabulary, Tom Frayn emerged undaunted from a childhood spent in two rooms with six other people, all of them deaf
Paperback, 288 pages
Published January 3rd 2012 by Picador (first published 2010)
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David Cheshire
Nov 28, 2011 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
A lovely book. I expected a "Who Do You Think You Are"-type 'family history from the census' story. But it's actually about recovering lost or half-lost memories about himself and his friends and immediate family as he grew up; all the stuff that's usually lost even as it shapes you. A masterpiece; Proust but better!
Jan Laney
Oct 19, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: biography
This is a tender and humorous account of his father's life, of his background and his struggles to support his family. His father is brought to life on these pages; his charm, his foibles and his amazing smile.
But this is also a social history. It tracks the movements of the lower orders from the turn of the century, through the war years and up to the nineteen seventies. Growing up in suburban England among the aspiring middle classes in the fifties and sixties, it rang many bells with me. I ha
Mar 18, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Charming memoir covering decades of family life in parts of London.
Jun 21, 2012 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Michael Frayn’s memoir is probably the family biography we’d all wish to write, had we the wit and talent. Frayn scavenges information from public records and relatives to fill out the family history he wasn’t around to remember, but this is primarily the story of family life has he experienced during the war years (WWII) to the death of his sister in 2003. Like all of us who grew up with siblings, our memories of our parents and family events are exceedingly partial. Frayn is dismayed to hear h ...more
Sep 27, 2016 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Memoirs, you either love them or you hate them .. maybe it depends on who the memoir is about. Michael Frayn is a British journalist who has written about his father, Tom Frayn, with whom he had a fairly distant relationship, but who he loved, appreciated and learned lots from. Born into a poor family who were mostly deaf, Tom starts work at 14, finds love with his first wife, Vi, but looses her to a heart attack at the tragically young age of 41. Set mostly in the war and post WWII years, the r ...more
Jan 01, 2013 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
I know that MF is a greatly respected writer but I found this very dull. Everyone I know, who has read this book, absolutely loved it. For them, he did turn his father’s life into a compelling story. It was obviously a very important book for Frayne to write, paying homage to his father and their life together, managing to say things that he wished he had done earlier BUT… I never really managed to engage with or care enough to finish the book. Apparently it did ‘kick in’ eventually and reward t ...more
Aug 12, 2012 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I have just finished this book and enjoyed it enormously. Michael Frayn is a favourite author anyway, and this opportunity to hear about his early family life was fascinating, beautifully written and very poignant.
He is a fabulous writer and is never mawkish or sentimental and yet I managed (as is my way!) to cry through large parts of it.

His Father sits between my grandfather and father's generations, so there were lots of fascinating social history.

He is, of course, a very funny man and great
Jul 06, 2012 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
This would have been a much better portrait of his father if Michael Frayn had not spent so much of it musing why he didn’t remember more about various pivotal incidents. And for a memoir about his father’s life, there is a bit too much about his own teenage years. Adolescent self-absorption and angst is just not that interesting! I understand why it was so important for him to write this honest and sympathetic book, and in a way it was quite moving to read, but as someone outside his family, I ...more
Debbie Davies
Jan 25, 2014 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I was captivated by this book from the start. In today's climate, where family is not always so important and often older members of our heritage were farmed off to a home, this book is the anthithesis of this.He makes us realise how we connact,whether educated or less educated,older or younger, higher or upper class. World Wars and family traumas and who we experience them with make us the person we evolve. A wealth of human interest that should get us running towards our telephone and ringing ...more
Derek Bridge
Jul 01, 2012 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
It is not a criticism to say that in this beautifully writtten memoir Frayn circles around and around his father, getting ever closer, never actually fully understanding the man. For sure, isn't that how it is with all of us?

But, as you would expect of a writer and thinker of Frayn's stature, there are insights a-plenty both into the way his family has shaped him but also into how family shapes all of us.
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Michael Frayn is an English playwright and novelist. He is best known as the author of the farce Noises Off and the dramas Copenhagen and Democracy. His novels, such as Towards the End of the Morning, Headlong and Spies, have also been critical and commercial successes, making him one of the handful of writers in the English language to succeed in both drama and prose fiction. His works often rais ...more
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