My Father's Fortune, By Michael Frayn

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The Independent Culture

In June 1944, a V1 flying bomb skimmed the top of 10-year-old Frayn's surburban home in Ewell, Surrey, before the "giant bluebottle" killed a family nearby.

After air-raid warnings, the Frayns slept downstairs – thankfully, since the doodlebug's passage had left "a tangled mass of window-lead set with broken glass" on his pillow.

So, a fairy-tale escape: a bit of the "pure luck" which, along with "hard work and quick wits", forms part of the inheritance of Tom Frayn, the genial, mercurial dad whose presence his son conjures in a bewitching book.

Tom – who sold asbestos roofing - moved with guts and gusto in that class space between "skilled working" and "lower middle" that has given us so much fine London literature. This witty, nimble and searching memoir joins that mighty line.

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