Don't make same mistakes as your dad, Amis's mother warns

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The Independent Culture

Like father, like son. Three days after Martin Amis's eagerly awaited House of Meetings was published, matters took an ominous turn for the novelist when he received a warning about the future from his mother.

Hilly Kilmarnock, who was once married to Martin's novelist father Kingsley, spoke yesterday of the parallels between her own failed marriage and her son's life. Hilly and Kingsley's marriage broke up following his infidelities.

Lady Kilmarnock said there were many comparisons to be made between father and son. Both were literary giants and both were unhappy unless they were writing. She has even begun to notice that the two men look increasingly alike. But she warns her son to give up the womanising ways of his father.

Her husband's affairs began shortly after the birth of their first child, Philip, and escalated, eventually including most of the women in the couple's social circle. On one occasion at a dinner party hosted by the couple, Kingsley escorted all the women from the table one by one.

He eventually left her and their three children and announced he was setting up house with his latest mistress, the writer Elizabeth Jane Howard. Both Martin and Philip divorced their first wives, and Sally, the daughter of Kingsley and Hilly, picked up her father's other worst habit and slowly drank herself to death.

Martin's first marriage to Antonia, with whom he had two boys, ended in failure. He is now remarried with two daughters to his second wife, Isabel.

But Lady Kilmarnock concedes that her son is far better at bringing up children than Kingsley was and has far more interest in their development. Kingsley famously never bothered to read London Fields, the novel which his son had dedicated to him.

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