Confessions: A Life of Failed Promises
Author A.N. Wilson offers a selection of profiles. As a celebrated novelist, biographer, teacher, aspiring cleric, son, and family man, the list of his successes makes his subtitle ‘failures’ almost false modesty, And yet, despite his versatility, his style is gleefully reminiscent of James Lees-Milne’s National Trust quests, he is humbled by personal elements in his life. The fraught relationship with his mother, sensitivity towards his demented, scholarly ex-wife, and love for his father, once CEO of the Wedgwood empire, now an elderly bore, are drawn together to make a poignant saga.
The first chapters are LOL, hilarious, name-dropping the best and brightest of British intelligentsia and literati, revealing confessions in this special, coveted world. But then he is waylaid by a religious bite, leading churchmen who don’t tempt quite enough to woo him from Oxford or London. The tone changes. Still a compelling read, the flashes of brilliance are diminished.
The memoir is replete with acerbic humor interrupted by a few distresses. A lot will be unfamiliar to Americans. Wilson, the quintessential Englishman, writing away from his usual stomping ground to live temporarily in Wales, steps back and recognizes why he finds his confessions essential.
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