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My Three Fathers: And the Elegant Deceptions of My Mother, Susan Mary Alsop Hardcover – July 1, 2008
"Brave Enough" by Cheryl Strayed
From the best-selling author of Wild, a collection of quotes--drawn from the wide range of her writings--that capture her wisdom, courage, and outspoken humor, presented in a gift-sized package that's as irresistible to give as it is to receive. Learn more | See related books
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Top Customer Reviews
But after I read this memoir I couldn't help thinking that he had to diminish his family in order to feel better about his own life.
He grew up believing that Bill Patten, who remains something of a dim presence in this volume, was his father.
In the mid 1990s while his mother was being treated for alcoholism, she reveals to him that he is the son of Duff Cooper, a British diplomat. His stepfather is Joe Alsop, a closeted homosexual, who was a major opinion maker in Washington in the 1940s-1960s
All of these folks drank and none were models of marital rectitude Mr Patten congratulates himself on how much finer in these regards he is than those who came before him
What he doesn't dwell much on is the fact that Duff Cooper showed great courage in resigning from Neville Chamberlain's cabinet when Chamberlain came back from his talks with Hitler declaring that he had achieved "peace in our time." Duff Cooper also jollied along Charles DeGaulle following the end of the war and was the first British ambassador to Paris. Mr Patten reduces him to a sad alcoholic and notes that in his diaries Cooper determines to quit drinking and never mentions it again. That's not really true I finished the diaries about 3 weeks before I read this book and Cooper does make more of an effort to quit drinking than Mr Patten gives him credit for.Read more ›
But between all these men was one woman, Susan Mary, herself a product of the same background as the men, who married two of them and bore a child - Bill the author - to the third. Susan Mary, a seemingly cold woman, certainly nicer to her friends than her children, a rather calculating woman, more at home in London and Paris society than with her children. Maybe the coldness came from having lost a beloved older sister when she was a child. Whatever caused it, the reticence and distance she imposed on her older child was partially to blame for what seems like a life-time "search" for identity by her son.
Patten writes well and the reader can tell that he certainly seems to have gotten his life together. Maybe it took his mother's death in 2004 to put the pieces together.
The author's mother, Susan Mary, spends her time having extra marital flings. While these provide cocktail party chatter, they are also tremendously destructive on the most important part of the family - the children.
The narrative recalled to me the old saying that it's a "wise father who knows his own son". Unexplored topics include, did Duff Cooper have any other male children (if the author was indeed his son) and the havoc DNA testing could have on the upper classes of the time. What if the author is in fact Duff Coopers only actual offspring?
The observation that "bastard's are always pathetic" rung a cord - my eldest brother was the result of a dalliance of my mother - and my eldest brother had such a hard childhood that his grandfather tried to adopt him away from the family.
Most Recent Customer Reviews
A sad book. Oh my, what gets revealed when any of us feels threatened! I feel sorry for Bill Patten: a privileged upbringing doesn't make up for a basic falsehood of your... Read morePublished 23 months ago by Ruth A. Racely
My Three Fathers: And the elegant Deceptions of My Mother Susan Mary Alsop is beautifully insightful with agile prose. I also admire the the choices that the author has made.Published on February 4, 2013 by Scott Koniecko