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Family Romance


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Family Romance, by John Lanchester, is an astonishing true story of family secrets stretching around the world and through three generations, by the bestselling author of Capital and Fragrant Harbour.

About the Author

John Lanchester was born in Hamburg in 1962. He was brought up in Asia and educated in England. He is a columnist for the Daily Telegraph and is on the editorial board of the London Review of Books. His novels, The Debt to Pleasure, Mr Phillips and Fragrant Harbour have won several prizes and been translated into more than twenty languages. His memoir, Family Romance, was published in 2007 to great acclaim. He is married and lives in London.


In his first memoir, novelist Lanchester investigates how his parents' life stories shaped him as a writer. Born in Hamburg, Germany, raised in Asia and educated in England, he is an only child of an international banker, whose transcontinental origins are equally difficult to categorize, and an ex-nun from Western Ireland, whose former life in the cloister remains a mystery throughout his childhood. When Lanchester was 21, his father died of a heart attack soon after retiring from decades of unfulfilling "wage slavery," causing Lanchester to reconsider his own career path. Years later, as he settles funeral arrangements for his mother, both her name and birth date come into question-a shocking revelation that drives much of the narrative. From old letters, photographs, journal entries and interviews with family members, Lanchester pieces together the truth: that after she left the convent, she assumed a false identity and lied about her age to convince Lanchester's father to marry her (she claimed to be 32 when she was in fact nearly 40). Of interest to Lanchester fans, the events prefigured in his novel Fragrant Harbor are explained here. While Lanchester's parentage and transient childhood in the "hybrid, postcolonial-to-capitalist bubble" are far from ordinary, his insight into the nature of families, their secrets and their sacrifices strike universal chords in this lovingly told account of how one storyteller came to be. (Feb.) Copyright 2006 Reed Business Information.

London-based author Lanchester's (The Debt to Pleasure) family, particularly his mother, kept secrets better than most. Like most children, Lanchester believed himself to be the center of the universe; he also believed that his parents' reticence about their pasts was the natural order. Only at his mother's death did he learn her date of birth, the name her parents gave her, and the guilt she'd carried for years over the ways she'd deceived her husband, son, and siblings. This is Lanchester's attempt to reconstruct his parents' lives from the time they met until his mother's death. Through alternating narratives, he examines the ways in which each of his parents was encouraged to subvert emotional truths. In researching and tracing his parents' history, Lanchester comes to understand how his parents protected him, sacrificing dreams of their own to insure their son's future. Poignant, interesting, and artfully written; recommended for public and academic libraries with large memoir collections.-Pam Kingsbury, Univ. of North Alabama, Florence Copyright 2007 Reed Business Information.

"While Lanchester's parentage and transient childhood in the 'hybrid, postcolonial-to-capitalist bubble' are far from ordinary, his insight into the nature of families, their secrets and their sacrifices strike universal chords in this lovingly told account of how one storyteller came to be." - "Publisher's Weekly" "From the Hardcover edition."

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