Confessions of a Fairy’s Daughter: Growing Up with a Gay Dad, by Alison Wearing
An engaging and unique memoir that will charm as well as entertain…
Story blurb: 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 Sullivan operettas. But when he came out of the closet in the 1970s, when homosexuality was still a cardinal taboo, it was a shock to everyone in the quiet community of Peterborough, Ontario—especially to his wife and three children.
Alison’s father was a professor of political science and amateur choral conductor, her mother was an accomplished pianist and marathon runner, and together they had fed the family a steady diet of arts, adventures, mishaps, normal frustrations and inexhaustible laughter. Yet despite these agreeable circumstances, Joe’s internal life was haunted by conflicting desires. As he began to explore and understand the truth about himself, he became determined to find a way to live both as a gay man and also a devoted father, something almost unheard of at the time. Through extraordinary excerpts from his own letters and journals from the years of his coming out, we read of Joe’s private struggle to make sense and beauty of his life, to take inspiration from an evolving society and become part of the vanguard of the gay revolution in Canada.
Confessions of a Fairy’s Daughter is also the story of “coming out” as the daughter of a gay father. Already wrestling with an adolescent’s search for identity when her father came out of the closet, Alison promptly “went in,” concealing his sexual orientation from her friends and spinning extravagant stories about all of the “great straight things” they did together. Over time, Alison came to see that life with her father was surprisingly interesting and entertaining, even oddly inspiring, and in fact, there was nothing to hide.
About the author: Alison Wearing is the author of the internationally acclaimed travel memoir Honeymoon in Purdah – an Iranian journey and the writer/performer of two award-winning one-woman plays.
Review by Gerry Burnie
One of the common bug-a-boos run up the flagpole by conservative Christians and other homophobic fear mongers is the so-called ‘risk’ to children that homosexuality and same-sex marriage allegedly represent. Everything from paedophilia to psychological maladjustment. The fact is, as demonstrated by Alison Wearing in her recent memoir-in four-parts, Confessions of a Fairy’s Daughter: Growing Up with a Gay Dad, [Knopf Canada , May 7, 2013], homophobia probably has a greater negative impact on the offspring of a gay parent than the sexual orientation ever could have.
Her engaging memoir is uniquely structured into four perspectives. Her early life in a somewhat avant-garde family, where the mother—a talented musician and marathoner—chose to reasonably follow her personal pursuits, while the father—a professor at Trent University in Peterborough, Ontario—was quite happy to pick up the domestic side of things. Nonetheless, young Alison had no problem with this … Except for one rather disastrous birthday party, featuring a birthday fare of “Gruyère soufflé, waxed beans in tarragon butter, and crème brûlée,” which for a seven-year-old speaks for itself.
This part also included her father’s coming out, but because of the prevailing homophobic attitude of the time (1980s) Alison goes into denial.
The second part is written by the father, and relies on a journal he maintained at the time; plus some newspaper clippings having to do with homosexuality. I personally appreciated this approach because it gave me a deeper insight into a complex situation than I would have gotten from the author’s single POV. It also provided a brief insight into the social mores of the era.
The third part is written by the mother. It is quite short, but charming, and it completes the main character’s perspectives.
Lastly, the fourth part is an update of how things are today.
I like autobiographies, biographies and memoirs, but I particularly like this one. Adding the other two points of view is a unique approach—to me, anyway—and it added so much to my understanding of an otherwise complex situation. Moreover, on a personal level, Peterborough is only a few miles from my original home town, and the 1980s was a transition period for me as well a gay society: from the dark ages of the ‘Bath House Raids’ to more modern liberalism.
For these reasons I recommend it most highly, but as always this is my opinion. Five bees.
Viewers to Gerry B’s Book Reviews – 56,184
Interested in Canadian history? Want to know more? Then visit my new page: In Praise of Canadian History.
It is a collection of little-known people, facts and events in Canadian history, and includes a bibliography of interesting Canadian books as well. Latest post: John Damien: Too gay for Canadian Racing.
If you would like to learn more about my other books, or to order copies, click on the specific cover below. Two Irish Lads and Nor All Thy Tears are available in both Kindle and Nook formats. Publisher’s price, $4.95.
Notice to all those who have requested a book review
Thank you for your interest, and my apologies for not responding to your request individually. I’m getting there, but the numbers have been overwhelming. Please extend your patience just a bit longer.
Thanks for dropping by! I’ll have another novel ready for next week, same URL, so drop back t
No comments yet.
The views expressed herein are my own and may not reflect the views of others.
To request a book review or to contact me, email:
Notes of interest:
1. Note: To avoid disappointment, the genres considered for review are:
a) GLBT fiction and non-fiction, b) GBLT-related biographies and autobiographies, c) GBLT historical fiction and non-fiction. d) Canadian content, e) Frontier tales, f) Biographies and autobiographies.
2. Due to Amazon's policy of arbitrarily deleting reviews without notice, I do not post reviews to Amazon.ca, Amazon.com, or Goodreads.
Instead, you can find my reviews on Indigo Books.ca, Stumble upon, Barnes & Noble, and Google Books.
If you have other sites you wish to suggest, contact me at email@example.com
Search this site
Top Posts (past 24 hrs.)
- ‘Two Irish Lads: Second Edition’ Announcement…
- Thunderhead, Book One: Tales of Love, Honor, and Vengeance in the Historic American West by B A Braxton
- Maurice, by E.M. Forster
- Finding Our Way (Finding Our Way #1) by Jayson James
- Clockwork Romance by Skye Dragen
- To Touch the Sky (Leap of Faith #2) by M.A. Church
- Lake on the Mountain: A Dan Sharp Mystery (Dan Sharp Mystery #1) by Jeffrey Round
- Wizard’s Moon by Josh Lanyon
- The Ghost Slept Over, by Marshall Thornton
- The Archer: A novel of medieval England (The Archers #1) by Martin Archer
- Twisted (Lucky Jeff Ranch #2) by Jake Mactire
- Full Circle by Michael Thomas Ford
- Mama’s Boy, Preacher’s Son: A Memoir by Kevin Jennings
- Harry’s Great Trek (The Empire Series #3) by Roger Kean
- Gay Berlin: Birthplace of a Modern Identity, by Robert Beachy
- Spadework, by Timothy Findley
- Behind Locked Doors, by Nicholas Kinsley
- The Butcher’s Son (A Dick Hardesty Mystery #1) by Dorien Grey
- The Academician (Southern Swallow #1) by Edward C. Patterson
- Wounded, by Percival Everett
- A Day of Fire: a novel of Pompeii by Stephanie Dray
- The Pretty Gentleman by Max Fincher
- The Man Who Fell in Love with the Moon by Tom Spanbauer
- Certainty by Victor Bevine
- Coming Out to Play by Robbie Rogers, Eric Marcus (Contributor)
- 2014 in review
- Third You Die (Kevin Connor Mysteries #3) by Scott Sherman
- Christmasing With You by William Neale
- Favorite Son by Will Freshwater
- Taboo For You by Anyta Sunday
- A Royal Affair by John Wiltshire
- Harry’s Last Stand: How the World My Generation Built is Falling Down, and What We Can Do to Save It, by Harry Leslie Smith
- Lover’s Knot by Donald Hardy
- Raising Cade (Cade & Alan #1) by Jonathan Penn
- Bad Boy: Naughty at Night (Bad Boy: Naughty at Night #1) by Jamie Lake
- Captive, by David Ellis
- Irresponsible Government: The Decline of Parliamentary Democracy in Canada, by Brent Rathgeber
- Dominus, by JP Kenwood
- Clearing the Plains: Disease, Politics of Starvation, and the Loss of Aboriginal Life, by James Daschuk
- Collide, by J.R. Lenk
- The Trouble With Tony (Sex in Seattle #1), by Eli Easton
- Lovers in Arms, by Osiris Brackhaus
- Red Dirt Heart (Red Dirt #1), by N.R. Walker
- Everything I Have Is Blue: Short Fiction by Working-Class Men About More-or-Less Gay Life, by Wendell Ricketts
- Vamp, by Rob Rosen
- The One for Me, by Hollis Shiloh
- What About Me?: The Struggle for Identity in a Market-Based Society, by Paul Verhaeghe
- The Way of Men, by Jack Donovan
- Stanley Park: A Novel, by Timothy Taylor
- Native: A Novel, by William Haywood Henderson
- February 2016 (1)
- June 2015 (3)
- May 2015 (4)
- April 2015 (4)
- March 2015 (5)
- February 2015 (4)
- January 2015 (4)
- December 2014 (6)
- November 2014 (4)
- October 2014 (4)
- September 2014 (5)
- August 2014 (4)
- July 2014 (4)
- June 2014 (5)
- May 2014 (4)
- April 2014 (4)
- March 2014 (5)
- February 2014 (4)
- January 2014 (4)
- December 2013 (7)
- November 2013 (4)
- October 2013 (4)
- September 2013 (5)
- August 2013 (4)
- July 2013 (5)
- June 2013 (5)
- May 2013 (4)
- April 2013 (5)
- March 2013 (4)
- February 2013 (4)
- January 2013 (4)
- December 2012 (6)
- November 2012 (4)
- October 2012 (5)
- September 2012 (4)
- August 2012 (4)
- July 2012 (5)
- June 2012 (4)
- May 2012 (4)
- April 2012 (4)
- March 2012 (5)
- February 2012 (5)
- January 2012 (6)
- December 2011 (4)
- November 2011 (3)
- October 2011 (5)
- September 2011 (4)
- August 2011 (4)
- July 2011 (5)
- June 2011 (4)
- May 2011 (6)
- April 2011 (4)
- March 2011 (4)
- February 2011 (4)
- January 2011 (5)
- December 2010 (5)
- November 2010 (6)
- October 2010 (5)
- September 2010 (4)
- August 2010 (5)
- July 2010 (4)
- June 2010 (4)
- May 2010 (6)
- April 2010 (4)
- March 2010 (6)
- February 2010 (5)
- January 2010 (10)
Adam Fitzroy | Manif… on Make Do and Mend, by Adam… Gerry B. on Jimmy Simpson: Legend of the R… Florine on Jimmy Simpson: Legend of the R… Gerry B. on The Archer: A novel of medieva… Elin Gregory on The Archer: A novel of medieva…
Site infoGerry B's Book Reviews
Blog at WordPress.com.