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My Father's Fortune, By Michael Frayn

A son takes stock of riches beyond measure

Near the end of this book, Michael Frayn tells us that his usually reticent father, Tom, wrote a letter late in life to thank him for his visits.

To his enduring regret, Michael never replied: "He had opened his heart...and I failed to respond." My Father's Fortune might be read as the author's attempt to make up for that failure. His portrait of Tom, which documents his catchphrases, his weakness for homburg hats, his "old, familiar smile", is clearly an act of love.

The title shouldn't be misunderstood: Tom bequeathed no material legacy. But he did leave Michael with a passion for words, and on the evidence of this exquisitely written memoir, that was a rich inheritance indeed.