Imagine you are ten years old. You go to sleep at the home of your uncles and aunt, a stopping off point on your way with the rest of your family to a new life in Canada. Then you wake up to find that your father, mother
and your six siblings have left you behind and set off for that brave new world without you. The ultimate betrayal.
That’s the gripping start of Fathers
and Sons, by TV presenter Richard Madeley. If you are thinking this all sounds a little far-fetched then think again: this shocking betrayal of a small boy really happened to Madeley’s grandfather, Geoffrey. It shaped the rest of his life and his relationship
with his own son and so on into the next generation of Madeley men.
Geneaology is a passion of mine so it’s no wonder I was drawn to this book, which is
a remarkable and, at times, unbearably sad family history stretching across four generations of fathers and their sons. The first half of the book is the most gripping detailing Geoffrey’s life and that of his son, Christopher; when the author moves
on to consider his own relationship with his step-sons and his son, Jack, he perhaps tries too hard to draw parallels with events of the past. Having said that, the family history did need to be brought up to date to round the circle of fathers and sons across
two countries and a century punctuated by war, bereavement, sheer hardship and, for Geoffrey at least, a quite remarkable acceptance of fate.
This was another
book Mr B and I have read together - a good book to read aloud and one prompting lots of debate about forbearance and forgiveness, and the special connection between fathers and sons.