Alan Cumming’s second volume of memoir is as breezy and frequently charming as the first was dark and often harrowing. At the same time, the opposite can also be said of each. In analysing his five-plus decades on earth Cumming is honest and unsentimental about a life that might have destroyed a less humorous and courageous person. As he cannily observes: “No one ever fully recovers from their past.” And despite psycho-blether about “closure”, it’s a truth that the life-wounded would do well to recall.

Alan Cumming

Brought up in rural Scotland with a beloved elder brother, brutal, bullying father and adored mother, a less likely candidate for global entertainment gold would be hard to imagine. Yet wherever he keeps his glittering prizes, that shelf has steadily expanded, from 1988 (Olivier nominee for Best Newcomer), to the present day. And it turns out he’s a scintillating writer of memoir too. If he didn’t come across as utterly delightful, he would be just too sickening.

It would be handy if not essential to have read Not My Father’s Son...