Get Your Free Audiobook

Listen with Audible free trial

₹199.00/month

1 credit a month to use on any title to download and keep
Listen to anything from the Plus Catalogue—thousands of Audible Originals, podcasts and audiobooks
Download titles to your library and listen offline
₹199 per month after 30-day trial. Cancel anytime.
Buy Now for ₹759.00

Buy Now for ₹759.00

Pay using card ending in
By confirming your purchase, you agree to Audible's Conditions of Use and Amazon's Privacy Notice.

Publisher's Summary

Everyone has a swipe at their parents and the way they were brought up at some point in their lives; very few of us exact revenge to the extent that Edmund Gosse did upon his father in this superbly funny, agonising account of a very strange childhood.

The subtitle of the book is A Study of Two Temperaments, and these were temperaments not destined to get on. Gosse, Sr. was an eminent naturalist and zoologist and a keen follower of the Plymouth Brethren. Gosse, Jr. had a natural leaning towards the arts and would grow up to be one of Victorian England's leading literary figures. The battle lines were drawn.

Throw into the picture the struggle already taking place within Gosse, Sr. (and most of the rest of the country) to reconcile his faith with the new theory of evolution as expounded by his fellow naturalist, Charles Darwin, and backed up by his own zoological studies, and you have the makings of a seriously entertaining fight.

This is a beautifully wry description of the attempt of a son to extricate himself from the vast influence of his father. Much has been made of Edmund Gosse's (possibly necessary) adjustment of the facts, but you can understand his need to speak out a bit when the entry in his father’s journal for the day of his birth reads, 'E. delivered of a son. Received green swallow from Jamaica'.

Public Domain (P)2008 Silksoundbooks Limited

What listeners say about Father and Son

Average Customer Ratings

Reviews - Please select the tabs below to change the source of reviews.

No Reviews are Available
Sort by:
Filter by:
  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Alex Jeffrey SC
  • 07-05-22

Superb

A superb work to the end.

Geoffrey Palmer’s reading of it was a joy to listen to.

Sort by:
Filter by:
  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Lord Emsworth
  • 04-12-17

Beautifully written and absolutely riveting

Another book I discovered through listening to the wonderful Backlisted podcast. Sir Edmund Gosse CB (21 September 1849 – 16 May 1928) was an English poet, author and critic. He was strictly brought up in a small Protestant sect, the Plymouth Brethren, but broke away sharply from that faith.

'Father and Son' is his account of his childhood and his gradual questioning of the fundamentalist religion of his parents. All of which might make this book sound like a misery memoir, and yet nothing could be further from the truth. This is a charming, fascinating and insightful account of Victorian life in the mid-18th century with numerous wonderful little details.

'Father and Son' is subtitled “A Study of Two Temperaments” and this signals the approach of Edmund Gosse. He retained enormous respect and affection for his father but ultimately there was to be no way for the different personalities to be true to themselves and reconcile their differences.

It's beautifully written and, as I suggest, absolutely riveting, complete with numerous funny and idiosyncratic memories from a childhood spent both in Islington and, from around age 6, in Ilfracombe in Devon, then, as now, a small and sleepy backwater.

I listened to Father and Son (1907) narrated by the peerless Geoffrey Palmer, and courtesy of Audible. Incredibly, this wonderful experience only set me back three British pounds. What a bargain. It's a wonderful book.

5/5

2 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars
  • B.
  • 20-05-16

Wonderful reading of a tender and funny memoir

Some accuse Gosse of demonizing his father, which was certainly the impression I had before listening to this book. While Gosse's father was a purist in his view of Christianity, he was also a tender and, in his way, loving father, and I thought the portrait sympathetic. A humor based on long perspective and understanding enlivens the book, and Geoffrey Palmer's reading makes it shine. The combination of his nuanced interpretation and Gosse's rich Victorian prose is marvelous. A thoroughly enjoyable listen.

2 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Severn
  • 20-10-21

Outstanding

I have read this deeply affecting work several times since it was first recommended to me fifty-odd years ago, but this is the first time I have listened to it. It is wonderfully well read, thoughtful, involving and moving. A better narrator for this book cannot be imagined.

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Jeremy Critchlow
  • 28-09-21

One of the great Autobiographies.

This is a very special book. It tells the story of the young Edmund Gosse's painful journey to break free from the existential straightjacket of Victorian religious fundamentalist thought to embrace the world as a freethinking individual. It is the story of a young child's internal battle for self identification against the overwhelming steamroller of religious conditioning.

Born into a family of eminent Plymouth Brethren he is, from birth, relentlessly conditioned to believe himself to be one of the elect by loving but narrowly overbearing parents. Alienated from his peers by a perceived, inherited, elevated status, he spends his young life tottering on the edge of a nervous breakdown as he strives to make sense of a world defined by rigid dogma coupled with a pious lack of imagination. Indeed, growing up in a house where any work of literary fiction is condemned as a wilful act of deceit he is condemned to grow in a cultural, social and existential vacuum.

When his mother dies of cancer he is left in the care of his grieving Zoologist father who is going through his own crisis as he strives to develop a theory to disprove the teachings of Darwin.

There is early rebellion when young Edmund wilfully worships a chair (a wooden idol) only to find that a wrathful God does not strike him down as he's been led to believe. There is an almost messianic pride when, at his father's prompting, he is elevated to become one of the elect (a position reserved only for adults) while still a mere child. There is confusion and wonder when he discovers the mystical power of poetry which further erodes the vice like grip of his fathers religious dogma.

At the age of sixteen he finds himself 'still but a bird fluttering in the network of my fathers will and incapable of the smallest independent action' and slowly realizing that he and his father 'walked in opposite hemispheres of the soul with the thick of the world between us.'

This is a beautiful, sometimes wryly funny - but immensely sad childhood reflection, written without a hint of self pity. It tenderly evokes a world long gone through the eyes of a sensitive child in an impossible situation. It is, above all, the testimony of a butterfly pinned to a page in his father's book, gradually understanding the nature of his dilemma and struggling to fly free from his father's page.

Geoffrey Palmer's narration is faultless.



  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars
  • SiFi
  • 05-08-19

Enjoyed a lot

Narration was spot on!
Gosse writes about his relationship with his brethren minister father and mother. In ~1857 his mother dies when he still a young child, and the book concludes when he is a young man trying to break away from his overweening father. Fascinating detail with some humour.

Sort by:
Filter by:
  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Riley
  • 11-03-20

Magnificent 'slice of life'

A fascinating, beautifully written book of a puritanical, Victorian childhood. Geoffrey Palmer's narration was superb.