Barbara's Reviews > Flesh and Blood: A History of My Family in Seven Maladies

Flesh and Blood by Stephen McGann
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's review

really liked it
bookshelves: autobiography

A fascinating story of an Irish family and their history from the mid-nineteenth century on, using health conditions that affected them to provide a skeleton on which to hang the details of their lives, this is written by the genealogist of the family (every family has one!), actor Stephen McGann.
Stephen is the youngest of four surviving brothers, all of whom have become actors. While this is interesting, it is not the only focus of the story. Nor, to be honest, are the health conditions, though they do have a bearing on events in the family's history, some more than others.
I was fascinated to realise just how Irish Liverpool was, and to a degree still is: this might well explain part of the reason my sister's DNA came up as 50% Irish, despite our not having any known Irish ancestors, as we do have ancestors from Liverpool.
I was impressed with the degree to which education was the star of the show, and what a difference access to education made to working class families. Stephen's parents were both very bright, but circumstances rendered them unable to take full (or in his father's case any) advantage of scholarships to grammar schools. This frustration made them determined to allow their children to take advantage of the opportunities they wished they had had, for which their children are undoubtedly thankful to this day.
It's interesting that all of the boys ended up with theatrical careers: it's such a stressful uncertain way of earning a living, possibly lucrative when you are in work (though not always and probably not when you are starting out), but rather nail-biting when you are not!

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Reading Progress

December 18, 2017 – Shelved
December 18, 2017 – Shelved as: to-read
January 16, 2018 – Started Reading
January 31, 2018 – Shelved as: autobiography
January 31, 2018 – Finished Reading

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