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Reviewed by Rich Follett for Readers' Favorite
Lovingly crafted memoirs, when offered with honesty and true devotion, have a particular warmth and charm seldom found in any other kind of writing. Grandfather’s Uncle by Philip McQuillan is no exception. There is such a naturally conversational singularity of purpose in McQuillan’s writing that the act of reading this paean to his father becomes a privilege - a rare opportunity to know a true character through the eyes of those who loved him most. The ‘Grandfather’s Uncle’ of the title refers to a man about whom McQuillan (and the world at large) knows very little. The fact that ‘Grandfather’s Uncle’ had been reduced in death to some random snippets of third-hand information and a pair of dates carved on a tombstone prompted McQuillan to undertake this heartfelt tribute. McQuillan’s objective is to ensure that his colorful, witty, and wryly entertaining father (who passed away recently at 98 years of age) will not be forgotten. In this respect, Grandfather’s Uncle succeeds brilliantly.
McQuillan’s father was a devotee of Shakespeare and a great lover of words; hence, the text of Grandfather’s Uncle is peppered with many seldom-seen words and phrases, all of which appear in bold font to make the reader feel closer to the subject. It would be easy for some to say that Grandfather’s Uncle is too personal to appeal to a wide range of readers, but such a cursory assessment would do it a great disservice. In truth, it is its simple purpose and straightforward approach which render it refreshing and, ultimately, beguiling. In the afterword, McQuillan offers readers an e-mail address to use in giving feedback on Grandfather’s Uncle and encourages them to craft personal memoirs of their own loved ones ‘hic et nunc’ - ‘here and now’ - while they are still fresh in memory. Such a noble intention is not easily diminished or discounted. Grandfather’s Uncle offers many valuable lessons as it brings to light the wit and wisdom of a man and a world worthy of being remembered for generations to come.