5 STARS

This is easily one of the best celebrity autobiographies I have ever read.

I have always been mildly fascinated with Alan Cumming; He has one of those faces. An interesting face that holds a secret. His eyes hold a sense of mischief and a hidden shadow that you want to uncover and bring into the light. It is the kind of face that if I saw it in a coffee shop I would want to get to know that person and find out who they are.

This autobiography is such a refreshing change from the usual celebrity biography – and I have read many. There is no giant ego begging to be stroked. No bombast. It isn’t a litany of all the riches and wealth and glittering parties he has been privy to. It is not an exercise in name-dropping. It isn’t a catalogue of all the films he’s been in and actors he has worked with. When I read a celebrity autobiography I don’t want a book detailing every moment of filming – I know the films they were in, I have seen them. I want to know who they are as people, not as characters. I want to know the Man, not the Actor. And this absolutely delivers.

While it is not a complete life story, this is about one or two of the most poignant and transformational moments in his life. It feels as though this partly came about when asked to be a part of the show Who Do You Think You Are?, which is a show I love. At the same time that this show is unveiling family revelations, another family revelation is taking place in his private life. We get glimpses into his childhood and it is at times sad, touching and heart-bruising. But it is done in such a balanced way. It is told with an element of grace. There is no crushing self-pity seeping off the pages. And more appealing than that, it is not told with malice.

It is achingly real and candid and endearing. I was completely absorbed from the first page and was still reading at 1am because I had to devour it all in one sitting.

I love the part where he describes the insight and respect he gains for women while playing Desrae. That had me laughing. If only every man could gain such understanding. Maybe they should all be made to walk in our shoes for a time.

While I would definitely like more, I do admire him for giving us real moments about the real man. It is not a blow by blow of every moment of his life, or a register of everyone he’s dated or every revelatory encounter. I found it to be an utterly compelling and affecting read. It has left me even more intrigued by the man.

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