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Confessions of a Fairy's Daughter: Growing Up with a Gay Dad

3.80  ·  Rating details ·  554 ratings  ·  80 reviews
A moving memoir about growing up with a gay father in the 1980s, and a tribute to the power of truth, humour, acceptance and familial love. Alison Wearing led a largely carefree childhood until she learned, at the age of 12, that her family was a little more complex than she had realized. Sure her father had always been unusual compared to the other dads in the neighbourho ...more
Paperback, 304 pages
Published May 7th 2013 by Knopf Canada
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May 13, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: 2015
I loved this book in a quiet way. There was no tearing through pages. This is a tender, warm-hearted book about love, family, acceptance and the right to love whomever you choose. Wearing set out to write a book about the gay revolution in the 70's and 80's in Toronto, hoping to use her father's part in it as a jumping point. But after her father passes her a box of journals, newspaper clippings and letters from his days of coming out, she realized this story was really about him. By the end of ...more
"A moving memoir about growing up with a gay father in the 1980s, and a tribute to the power of truth, humour, acceptance and familial love.

Alison Wearing led a largely carefree childhood until she learned, at the age of 12, that her family was a little more complex than she had realized. Sure her father had always been unusual compared to the other dads in the neighbourhood: he loved to bake croissants, wear silk pyjamas around the house, and skip down the street singing songs from Gilbert and
Bradley Hayward
Mar 31, 2013 rated it it was amazing
I simply could not put this book down and read it from cover to cover in one sitting. Equal parts touching and hilarious, I found myself crying and laughing, often in the same paragraph. Wearing has a spectacular ability to cut to the heart of each moment, economically setting each scene so that the pages practically turn on their own in anticipation of what comes next. She paints a loving portrait of her father, a heartbreaking one of her mother, and uses humour to connect the two into a fulfil ...more
Jan 13, 2014 rated it really liked it
Confessions of a Fairy’s Daughter is a well written account growing up with a gay father in the 70’s by Alison Wearing that is part autobiography/biography. It begins with Alison’s life growing up Peterborough, Ontario How I saw It. This true to life story takes place during decades of extreme change in Canadian gay, lesbian, bisexual, transsexual and queer history, homosexuality was decriminalized the year Alison was toilet-trained.

The Way He Saw It (Part 2) is biographical based on the content
Apr 06, 2014 rated it really liked it
The title pretty much sums up what the book's about. I read it not just because it sounded interesting to me and had been recommended by a friend, but because I grew up in the same place as Wearing (Peterborough, Ontario) and her father and mine taught at the same university (Trent). (My mother says my parents knew the Wearings and my brother and his friends took piano lessons with Mrs. Wearing). While I have no memory of any of this, my enjoyment of the book may well be partially due to recogni ...more
Alison Wearing displays an incredibly skillful use of language, and her memoir is a real pleasure to read. The story is basically about her father coming out as gay at midlife (in the mid to late 1970s). As he told his daughter once, if he'd been born ten years earlier, he probably would not have come out at all--if born ten years later, he probably would never have married.

The account is constructed in four sections: the initial (and longest) part is the author's view, followed by her father's
Feb 03, 2014 rated it really liked it
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
I loved the story and the spirit in which it was told. It is an amazingly open and honest memoir and ultimately universal one full of empathy and compassion. I am recommending it to everyone. After hearing Alison speak about the book and finishing it in two sittings, I'd love to see the one woman show that she performs which was the original first version of the book.
I won a First Reads copy so I do not know how it differs from the final published version BUT....

Very funny, touching and full of great personal and historical happenings! I really loved how Wearing organized the book and how everything was approached with humour, deep understanding and acceptance!
Jane Mulkewich
Jan 27, 2020 rated it really liked it
Alison Wearing is coming to Burlington soon to give a workshop on memoir-writing and to perform her one-woman play based on this book, and now that I have read the book, I intend to register for both! She so skillfully and sensitively writes about deeply personal and sometimes painful aspects of her family life, always with love, and I would love to learn from her. She shows the way forward in how to move past family differences, and also how to write about it. She also has a new book out, which ...more
Whoa, this book knocked me off my pins for a few days. I'll undoubtedly be thinking about it for a long time.

I was excited to read this book club selection for a few reasons, not least of which, my father came out as gay after all four of us kids had left the proverbial nest. Well, he didn't formally come out -- we kind of found out bit by bit through getting to know some of his friends and through the fog of denial for some of us, including myself. So, I really didn't have the experience of kn
Kathleen Nightingale
I read this book as Ron, my friend, discovered that there was going to be a one woman show by Alison Wearing on this book. I found the book to be good and discovered that although I am reading humour I do not find it exceptionally funny. Went and saw Alison this evening and it was brilliant. So worth the time and kept very much to her story in the book. I highly highly recommend either reading this book and especially seeing the one act play. Simply Brilliant!!!!
Jul 18, 2014 rated it really liked it
Great and enlightening. Fabulous read
Wendell Hennan
Dec 27, 2013 rated it it was amazing
The press release detailing Alison Wearing’s book, “Confessions of a Fairy’s Daughter”, had me pumped. At last, I might get some insight into how my four children felt growing up with a gay Dad.

“Confessions” is a combination memoir/biography with Part One detailing Alison’s life from childhood through to a young adult in Peterborough, Ontario. Part Two, “The Way He Saw It”, becomes biographical and is based on the contents of a box which her father gives her containing his diary, newspaper clipp
Jul 08, 2019 rated it really liked it
This was a good memoir when it comes to a memoir about a woman’s life and a (much briefer) story of a coming out. It was written beautifully, with lovely and evocative descriptions. As a story about someone with a gay parent though, I wanted more of the actual emotion and fewer platitudes about how love is equal no matter what. At one point the author said something like “I couldn’t tell you how I eventually found myself completely at peace with my father’s life / sexuality” which. The process o ...more
Penny McGill
Jul 07, 2013 rated it really liked it
This was quite a beautiful book. I do like a memoir and that is what pulled me to this book, particularly after I heard a nice interview between the author and her father. Their interview included a discussion of a birthday party that her father took on when her mother was absent to care for an ill grandmother. Alison Wearing had a plan for a typical 70s birthday with a traditional menu of hot dogs and cake but her father really thought it should be more festive and went with other choices which ...more
Oct 05, 2013 added it
What a fantastic memoir! Told in 4 parts (“How I Saw It” (author’s view), “How He Saw It” (Dad’s view), “How She Saw it” (Mother’s view) and lastly, “How We See It Now” (self-explanatory).

The first part is the longest, and is full of many memories of a happy childhood, followed by teenage years filled with confusion (she found out her dad was gay the night before she was going to Germany for three months-who could she possibly talk to about this?) and denial (she finally did tell one (and only o
Kate Hearn
Apr 18, 2013 rated it liked it
Shelves: first-reads
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Aug 22, 2013 rated it it was amazing
An amazing, well-written book by one of my favorite authors (she also wrote "Honeymoon in Purdah"). I can't wait to see her presentation of the same title at the Victoria Fringe Festival! Author Alison Wearing describes her youth growing up with a gay dad so vividly, yet lovingly, even a more conservative person would find it difficult to oppose the thoughtfulness of this memoir. This favorite passage gives you some idea of the details and hilarity found in this book:

On my seventh birthday, the
Michael Kerr
Jun 22, 2013 rated it really liked it
Shelves: gay, memoir, non-fiction
Great book. This memoir of growing up with a gay father is absorbing and engaging. Don't pick it up just as you're preparing to move...

The book is structured to give the various points of view of the main players. First is the author's childhood (and later) gradual realization that her father is not like the others - with her subsequent retreat into the closet of denial, even as her father makes the opposite journey. Next is a description of the same time span from the father's point of view (ba
Jun 16, 2013 rated it really liked it
It's hard to believe Alison Wearing has only written two books, her beautiful, lyrical style lifting her memoirs from ordinary to extraordinary. Her Honeymoon in Purdah is one of my favorite books ever. Her choice to include her dad's diary entries in the second half though, was a misstep in my opinion, though they do present many truths of the time period and of his emotional state. It's painful to read someone's inner thoughts and private actions in this way, (given permission or not) knowing ...more
Aug 13, 2013 rated it really liked it
Shelves: book-club
So overall I enjoyed the book. It was interesting to read from the POV of a daughter of a gay man during the hight of the gay revolution.
There were, however, some aspects of the book that I didn't like. It has nothing at all to do with the story and more the writing. I found the writing to be a little pretentious at time. The use of large words was distracting. Almost as if she was trying to prove her intelligence to the readers.
I wish she would have delved deeper into her feelings as a teena
Sarah Feuillette
Jun 12, 2017 rated it it was amazing
A poetically written memoir that speaks to the subject matter of my own life--growing up with a gay father. I've toyed with the idea of writing this very book (albeit with a drastically different version of the gay-father story to tell) but Alison has done such a beautiful job I'm in awe of her writing. I don't know how someone would enjoy this book if they weren't, also, emotionally connected to an experience of having been lied to/had things hidden from them in early childhood. But for those o ...more
Adam Dunn
Feb 18, 2013 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: glbt
Guest review from my mom:

At her age 18, her Father admitted:
"If I'd been born ten years ealier, it's very possible that I would never have come out at all, And if I'd been born ten years later, most probably I would never have married." What a powerful quote!
This is a fabulous book, well written with a sharp wit and good sense of humour; showing us a gay father's story, told through the eyes of his daughter. There were so many quotes in the book that I wrote down, and don't want to forget. I'm s
Jul 31, 2013 rated it liked it
I really and thoroughly enjoyed the first half of this book--Wearing's portrayal of her childhood was funny, sensitive, sad and honest. She looked back on her memories of her dad and of her mom and of their marriage from her viewpoint as a young girl and relating it to what she found out later. It was also incredible that her father had kept his own diaries and letters and collected clippings for over thirty years and gave real insight into how a middle-aged man comes out of the closet in the 19 ...more
Caroline Pisano
Sep 19, 2013 rated it it was amazing
A tasteful and elegantly woven account. I had to read this book fast in order to work on a paper for my application to a book publishing program but quite frankly I would have finished it fast either way. I love the personal stories and memories that are told with such vivid details. I also love how she approaches it from almost every perspective imaginable giving readers a more complete understanding of what life was like and what happened.

Another bit which I quite liked was the use of article
Jun 03, 2013 rated it really liked it
This is a very funny, heart wrenching and tender story. This quote captures the sentiment of the book:
"You never feel it at the time," my mom said as Figleaf jumped up and settled onto her lap, "but it is in the most difficult moments of our lives that we do our best work as human beings. I mean, those are our opportunities to come into the depths of ourselves, to open to something greater than ourselves. And it's often someone who pushes us there, some life circumstance, because who wants to do
T. Strange
Aug 11, 2013 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: review
I actually had the honour and pleasure to meet Alison through her theatre performances (she in fact gave me copies of both her books, seeing as we each have a homosexual parent).

It was the first time that I had met an author in this way, and heard much of the story already, so it was very interesting to read the book and hear it in her voice.

This book represents, to me, a very important piece of the history of lgbtq rights, and made me feel very fortunate!

It was difficult, for me, to separate
Feb 09, 2014 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: read-2014
Candid, honest, heartwarming, beautiful and true. Exquisitely written. The story of a family in a pivotal time in Canadian history. The story is told from every aspect, gay father, mother, sons and daughter (obviously). A loving daughter. It made me laugh out loud, cry and remember what the world was like in the 1960's and 1970's. It was not a kind place for a gay man, let alone a gay father. I can imagine the difficult choice and celebrate the bravery shown. Included in the book are her father' ...more
Scott Williams
Jun 03, 2014 rated it it was amazing
"The thing about having a gay parent is that so long as the rest of society can get over it, the "gay" part isn't nearly as important as the "parent" part; in fact, it's incidental."

Alison Wearing's wonderful memoir captures a key period of gay history in North America. More than that, it captures the essence of a Canadian family during that period. It is both humorous and tragic -- I rarely laugh while reading but I did during this. Wearing's voice is engaging, friendly and witty. The portions
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Alison Wearing is the author of Honeymoon in Purdah – an Iranian journey and Confessions of a Fairy’s Daughter (Alfred A. Knopf).

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