Father, Dear Father: Life with Woodrow Wyatt

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9780091801397: Father, Dear Father: Life with Woodrow Wyatt

Written by his daughter, this is an irreverent, affectionate portrait of the last great English eccentric. Each chapter contains personal and historically important anecdotes about the famous. It is a waspish social document, allowing the reader access to an exclusive club of prime ministers, monarchs and film stars in extraordinary situations.

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Review:

The legendary eccentricities of Woodrow Wyatt (1918-1997) are recounted by Petronella, his only daughter in Father, Dear Father. The result portrays a childhood rarely encountered in the late 20thcentury: a mixture of Edwardian extravagance, Victorian whimsicality and a vivid 18th-century haute sophistication, never bogged down with excessive self-analysis.

Described by his friend Roy Jenkins as "the ultimate original", Woodrow Wyatt was a politician (a Labour MP from a Conservative family who eventually gravitated towards Thatcherism), prolific writer, racing enthusiast, womaniser and bon vivant. Kingsley Amis helped the young Petronella with her homework (and received a B minus), the Queen Mother recommended her martinis to steady teenage nerves and Robin Day ruined her school sports day by sitting with her father on the finishing line. Other stories are hand-me-downs from Woodrow himself of his encounters with an unusual range of acquaintances and friends, from Gandhi and Churchill to Elizabeth Taylor and Richard Burton. Here he is throwing Goebbels' shoes down a lift shaft in Berlin, teasing General de Gaulle, reciting bawdy limericks to Elizabeth Taylor, writing love poetry to Margaret Thatcher.

Father, Dear Father is a sparkling series of episodes crisply and engagingly narrated. With its clipped romanticism, Wyatt the younger's tone is an anachronism in these times of inter-generational accusations.

In Father, Dear Father, the author remains, as she was in his life, in her father's long shadow, perhaps because she cannot bring herself to condemn her beloved though flawed father; perhaps because she wants to keep him the focus of this book rather than herself. Father, Dear Father is a must for admirers of Woodrow Wyatt and those who enjoy a sharp, irreverent and amusing foray into the lives of the great and good. -- Fiona Buckland

Review:

"A rollicking comic memoir" - "TLS "The girl can write." - "Independent

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