A Tug on the Thread by Diana Quick

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The Independent Culture

Forget all your preconceptions about actors' memoirs: this is one of the richest and subtlest family histories of recent times.

Written with grace, candour and unflagging curiosity, it takes the form of double journey: both interior, into the roots of Diana Quick's stage vocation, and exterior, into the hidden lives of her forebears. Her ancestors had spent several generations in India. Via dogged interviews, travels and research, from Bengal to Punjab to Surrey, Quick finds a confused Anglo-Indian clan never quite sure of where they stood in terms of race or class. (Matriarch "Lucky" Johnstone began as Lakshmi.) This luminous book draws the poison from their secrets, tracing a long, absorbing saga of "defiant denial and fear of discovery".