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About the book
  • Published: 27 February 2017
  • ISBN: 9781784703158
  • Imprint: Vintage
  • Format: Paperback
  • Pages: 432
  • RRP: $28.00


A Journey into Uncharted Territory

A daughter’s journey into her father’s past – a story of war and grief, jealousy and madness, mischief and fierce love

Discover a daughter’s journey into her father’s past in this Sunday Times bestseller and winner of the 2016 Costa Biography Award.

Keggie Carew grew up under the spell of an unorthodox, enigmatic father. An undercover guerrilla agent during the Second World War, in peacetime he lived on his wits and dazzling charm. But these were not always enough to sustain a family.

As his memory began to fail, Keggie embarked on a quest to unravel his story once and for all. Dadland is that journey. It takes us into shadowy corners of history, a madcap English childhood, the poignant breakdown of a family, the corridors of dementia and beyond.
‘OH THIS BOOK. Beautiful and fierce and brave. Memory and war and family and loss and, well, wow’ Helen Macdonald, bestselling author of H is for Hawk
'A thrilling history of Churchill's Special Operations Executive... combined ingeniously with a tender, moving, funny portrait of the author’s father' Nick Hornby, Observer

  • Pub date: 27 February 2017
  • ISBN: 9781784703158
  • Imprint: Vintage
  • Format: Paperback
  • Pages: 432
  • RRP: $28.00

About the Author

Keggie Carew

Keggie Carew has lived in London, West Cork, Barcelona, Texas and New Zealand.
Before writing her career was in contemporary art. She lives near Salisbury.

Praise for Dadland

“"As Dad was losing his past... I was trying to retrieve it," Keggie writes... With the publication of this original, moving book, she has succeeded”

Paul Laity, Guardian (Review)

“Compelling and moving from start to finish... Carew’s funny, fascinating and unflinching tribute to her father is a portrait of a complex man: not just a war hero but a flawed husband; not just a Jedburgh but her incorrigible and much-missed dad”

Melissa Harrison, Financial Times

“a thrilling, bloody, educative history of Churchill's Special Operations Executive... combined ingeniously with a tender, moving, funny portrait of the author’s father”

Nick Hornby, Observer

“A fascinating mix of military history and family memoir studded with photographs… It’s one woman’s attempt to put her father’s role in history on the page, at the same time as his own recollections of it diminish”

Cathy Rentzenbrink, The Times (Saturday Review)

“A poignant, inspiring and often comic account of family life and the man known as the T E Lawrence of Burma ... Ripping real-life yarns of double agents, secret messages, illicit assassinations and cyanide pills... the heroics and humour persist to the end”

Richard Benson, Mail on Sunday

“A beautifully written, funny and tender ode to an adventurous, occasionally frustrating, man who lived life at full tilt”

Good Housekeeping

“It's now commonplace to say that sad memoirs are ultimately redemptive, but Dadland is the real McCoy. It is a rich and stunning achievement, a feat of imagination that sews together many parallel true stories. Above all, it is a labour of shining daughterly love”

Caroline Sanderson, Sunday Express (S Magazine)

“I was so absorbed and moved by Dadland I haven't been able to read anything else. It is beautifully written -- deft and funny and so tender -- but I have also come away knowing more about history, more about dementia, more about men, more about daughters, more about love, family, sheds, diaries, an inquisitive mind and peeing in plastic bottles. I loved it. I really did.”

Rachel Joyce

“Powerful memoir... The clouding of Tom's mind never eclipsed his charm ... Dadland is no tragedy, threaded as it is with forgiveness, love and a fine, fierce comic glitter”

Jane Shilling, Telegraph

“Keggie turns spy on her father. She is on a “ghost hunt”… What she uncovers is an extraordinary gift for any memoirist… fascinating”

Helen Davies, The Sunday Times

“How lovely to discover a book that makes one seize friends by the lapels and implore them, "Read this"... wonderful”

Valerie Grove, Literary Review

“Gripping, heartfelt, moving and quite unlike anything Esquire has had the pleasure of reading this year... outstandingly good”


“Dadland [had me] gripped from beginning to end.”

Philippe Sands, Financial Times, Book of the Year

“Dadland [had me] gripped from beginning to end.”

Philippe Sands, Financial Times, Book of the Year

“Extraordinary, brutally honest... One of the great pleasures of the book is the quality of the writing”

Ginny Dougary, Daily Mail

“Mixes intimate memoir, biography, history and detective story: this is a shape-shifting hybrid that meditates on the nature of time and identity… For all its vigour and comic zest, Dadland is a careful and tender discovery that patiently circles around a man who spent his time mythologizing and running away from himself”

Nicci Gerrard, Observer

“I was completely caught up in and learned so much from this remarkable, haunting and uplifting memoir”

Woman & Home

“Continually interesting and often moving... The fruits of her research into her father’s war and espionage contacts are fascinating, but the real success of the book is the understanding the author acquires of the waywardness of experience, and of the complexity of family relationships”

Allan Massie, Scotsman

“She tells his story, piecing together documents from his military past, with poignancy and humour”


“A superb evocation of an extraordinary man”

Choice Magazine

“Utterly absorbing … I can’t recommend it more strongly”

Frances Wilson, The Oldie

“The beauty and boldness of this memoir - pieced together from pictures, letters, diaries, cuttings and military archives - is in its healing honesty and the complex, flawed character of Tom, and his daughter's unbroken spirit in the aftermath of her father's derring-do and deep family damage”

Iain Finlayson, Saga Magazine

“Her tragicomic memoir about her relationship with her eccentric WW2 veteran father [...] explores family breakdown, dementia and the effects of war and peace on the psyche -- as well as the fierce power of daughterly love”


“Book of the Week: When Keggie Carew started to investigate her father's past, she knew she was in a race against time... vivid accounts of her father's past exploits are punctuated with painful bulletins detailing his mental decline ... An extraordinary life and a sui generis debut.”

Stephanie Cross, Lady

“An engaging, funny and evocative depiction of war, snobbery, deprivation, insanity, dementia and ghastly relatives. The author captures the flavour of every scene she describes... holding the reader's attention with masterfully constructed intercut sequences of ancient, recent and modern family history”

Robert Bathurst, The Tablet

“This is in part a work of reconstruction, unravelling Tom's life, partly a family history, and it's fascinating”

Alan Massie, i magazine

“This is a story of journeys, love, loss, memory and family and Boy's Own daring... beautiful, nostalgic, moving, shocking, swashbuckling and simply unputdownable”

Family Tree Magazine

“I’m halfway through Dadland by Keggie Carew and OH THIS BOOK. Beautiful and fierce and brave. Memory and war and family and loss and, well, wow.”

Helen Macdonald, author of H is for Hawk

“I loved Dadland for its tenderness, humour and candour. It has begun to open the door for me to what may well lie ahead in my life, in so many of our lives, in terms of ageing parents. And it has also taught me something deeply moving about tolerance, and about love”

Robert Macfarlane

“A wonderful, haunting and beautifully written memoir... I found myself laughing out loud at times and, at others, unable to hold back the tears... An absolutely stunning book”

James Holland

“Dadland has the weight of family love but fizzes along in accessible and dynamic prose, highly recommended”

Andrew McMillan

“A mesmerising performance by a natural storyteller gifted with the most seductive material possible, in the wild and wonderful life of her exasperating Irish father. Pain and annoyance is transmuted into pure narrative gold, as Keggie Carew interrogates the legend of this wartime adventurer and the bitter comedy of his domestic relationships and his late decline. A brave, risk-taking tale that alarms, delights and moves. As soon as you come to the end, you want to start again, to see if those things really happened”

Iain Sinclair

“You love these people from the first page ... As Tom's life falls apart memory by memory, Keggie is picking it up again and her storytelling is spell-binding. Effortlessly readable, this is a delight combining laughter - and tears, yes, quite a few of those.”



Charlotte Heathcote, Daily Express

“A moving memoir-cum-biography.”

Molly McCloskey, Irish Times

“By some margin my Book of the Month... A detective story, a family history, a thrilling tale of derring-do, and the most distinctive and affecting memoir I’ve read since H is for Hawk.”


“Utterly remarkable, and beautifully evoked… Dadland is a completely riveting, deeply poignant “manhunt” for which I predict great things.”


“Dadland, by Keggie Carew, is being tipped for award-winning breakout success in the vein of H is for Hawk”

Jon Coates, Sunday Express

“It’s an exorcism, ghost-hunt and swim through the archipelago of her father’s shattered self… The author’s descriptions have an easy lyricism.”

Ed Cripps, Times Literary Supplement

“The old question 'what did you do in the war, Dad?' has never had a more surprising or moving answer.”

David Hepworth

“Warm and funny, sometimes regretful and sad, but overall a read like a rollercoaster. Wonderful.”

Western Morning News

“You know the saying that everyone has a book in them? Well, unless your book is as good as this, I'd give up right now”

Daily Mail, Markus Berkmann

“You know the saying that everyone has a book in them? Well, unless your book is as good as this, I’d give up right now… This gripping book, written with real verve and a narrative expertise that wouldn’t shame a veteran.”

Sally Morris, Daily Mail

“A brilliant, bittersweet biography.”

Cornelia Parker, Observer

“Keggie’s writing is immersive… She writes with a warmth and generosity about her father, a man who was a genuine character and hero.”

Paul Cheney, Nudge

“Dadland is deeply personal. But it is also the story of our generations: people touched by war and by Alzheimer’s”

Charlotte Heathcote, Daily Express

Awards & Recognition

  • Costa Biography Award

    Winner • 2017 • Costa

Discover More

“…a beautifully written book that will leave you desperately sad, occasionally laughing but at all times connected to the story…”

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