Shortlisted for the Edna Staebler Award for Creative Non-Fiction

Nominated for the RBC/Taylor Prize for Non-Fiction

Selected as an Indigo Top 50 Books of 2013

National Bestseller

“Confessions of a Fairy’s Daughter had me in tears: first of laughter, then of sadness, then of wonder at life’s strange and marvelous fragility. It is a book both beautiful and true; about the longing for family and for home.
Alison Wearing is a hugely talented writer.”
— Alison Pick, author of the Man Booker prize-nominated Far to Go

A passionate memoir about growing up with a gay father in the 1980s, and a tribute to the power of truth, humour, acceptance and familial love. Alison Wearing had a largely carefree childhood until she learned, at the age of 12, that her family was a tad more complex than she had realized. Sure her father had always been unusual compared to the other dads in the neighbourhood: he loved to bake croissants, wear silk pyjamas around the house, and skip down the street singing songs from Gilbert and Sullivan operettas.

But when he came out of the closet in the 1970s, when homosexuality was still a cardinal taboo, it was a shock to everyone in the quiet community of Peterborough, Ontario – especially to his wife and three children. Alison’s father was a professor of political science and amateur choral conductor, her mother was an accomplished pianist and marathon runner, and together they had fed the family a steady diet of arts, adventures, mishaps, normal frustrations and inexhaustible laughter. Yet despite these agreeable circumstances, Joe’s internal life was haunted by conflicting desires.

As he began to explore and understand the truth about himself, he became determined to find a way to live both as a gay man and also a devoted father, something almost unheard of at the time. Through extraordinary excerpts from his own letters and journals from the years of his coming out, we read of Joe’s private struggle to make sense and beauty of his life, to take inspiration from an evolving society and become part of the vanguard of the gay revolution in Canada.

Confessions of a Fairy’s Daughter is also the story of “coming out” as the daughter of a gay father. Already wrestling with an adolescent’s search for identity when her father came out of the closet, Alison promptly “went in,” concealing his sexual orientation from her friends and spinning extravagant stories about all of the “great straight things” they did together. Over time, Alison came to see that life with her father was surprisingly interesting and entertaining, even inspiring, and in fact, there was nothing to hide.

Balancing intimacy, history and downright hilarity, Confessions of a Fairy’s Daughter is a captivating tale of family life: deliciously imperfect, riotously challenging, and full of life’s great lessons in love. Alison brings her story to life with a skillfully light touch in this warm, heartfelt and revelatory memoir.


Reviews & Media

 
 
Interview with CBC's Shelagh Rogers

Interview with CBC's Shelagh Rogers

Entrevista en español/ Interview (in Spanish) with the state radio of Morelos, Mexico

Entrevista en español/ Interview (in Spanish) with the state radio of Morelos, Mexico

 
This exquisitely written and deeply compassionate memoir tells the story of a family and a nation at a turning point in their sexual and political awakening...
This book is for anyone one who chooses to live (and love) openly and freely.
— Kamal al-Solaylee, author of Intolerable: A Memoir of Extremes
Alison Wearing is blessed with the eye of a lyric poet, the ear of a comic novelist, and a heart capacious enough to tell a complicated love story. Confessions of a Fairy’s Daughter caught me from the beginning and held me until its touching conclusion.
— Katherine Ashenburg, author of The Mourner's Dance
A fascinating and comical telling . . . It shines a light on how she, her family and the gay movement were left groping in the dark until they finally found their way personally and politically...Her book is hilarious, sad, thoughtful, sensitive and honest.
— The London Free Press
A memoir about what is at heart, averaged out over time, a happy family. How interesting can that be? As it turns out, very.
— The Montreal Gazette
With great skill and tenderness and a gorgeously wicked sense of humor, Wearing tells her family’s story from every angle, allowing all to speak with their own voices...it’s also a timeless memoir written by a loving daughter who is finding her own way in the world and learning about the need we all have not just for acceptance, but for true understanding.

— Will Schwalbe, author of The End of Your Life Book Club
Part memoir, part history book, part diary and all parts heart. Alison Wearing weaves a tale that celebrates the complexities of who we are and the families we hold close. Confessions of a Fairy’s Daughter is painful, tender, poignant and – most important – beautifully honest.
— Brian Francis, author of Natural Order and Fruit