Winner of the 2017 Costa Biography Award
In the vein of Bad Blood and Why Be Happy When You Can Be Normal?, an enthralling at times shocking and deeply personal family memoir of growing up in and breaking away from a fundamentalist Christian cult.
'At university, when I made new friends and confidantes, I couldn't explain how I'd become a teenage mother or shoplifted books for years or why I was afraid of the dark and had a compulsion to rescue people without explaining about the Brethren or the God they made for us and the Rapture they told us was coming. But then I couldn't really begin to talk about the Brethren without explaining about my father....'
As Rebecca Stott's father lay dying, he begged her to help him write the memoir he had been struggling with for years. He wanted to tell the story of their family, who, for generations, had all been members of a fundamentalist Christian sect. Yet each time he reached a certain point, he became tangled in a thicket of painful memories and could not go on.
The sect were a closed community who believed the world is ruled by Satan: nonsect books were banned, women were made to wear headscarves and those who disobeyed the rules were punished. Rebecca was born into the sect, yet as an intelligent, inquiring child she was always asking dangerous questions. She would discover that her father, an influential preacher, had been asking them, too, and that the fault line between faith and doubt had almost engulfed him.
In In the Days of Rain, Rebecca gathers the broken threads of her father's story and her own and follows him into the thicket to tell of her family's experiences within the sect and the decades-long aftermath of their breaking away.
"Beautiful, dizzying, terrifying, Stott's memoir maps the unnerving hinterland where faith becomes cruelty and devotion turns into disaster. A brave, frightening and strangely hopeful book." (Olivia Laing, author of The Lonely City)
"A marvellous, strange, terrifying book, somehow finding words both for the intensity of a childhood locked in a tyrannical secret world, and for the lifelong aftershocks of being liberated from it." (Francis Spufford, author of Golden Hill)
"By rights Rebecca Stott's memoir ought to be a horror story. But while the historian in her is merciless in exposing cruelties and corruption, Rebecca the child also lights up the book, so passionate and imaginative that it helps explain how she survived, and - even more miraculous - found the compassion and understanding to do justice to the story of her father and the painful family life he created." (Sarah Dunant, author of The Birth of Venus)
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- Mr Mark Thomas