Tory MP writes bonk-free book shock

Sex isn't everything - not for Ann Widdecombe at any rate.

The shadow Home Secretary has departed from the traditions of her Tory colleagues and written a book shorn of any references to trouser stirrings and pert breasts. Instead, her first novel, The Clematis Tree, is the story of a family striving to bring up a son handicapped after a car accident.

Miss Widdecombe, who has always had the capacity to surprise, was hailed last week as the Tories' commonsense revolution in "human form". Despite being no oil painting, as she would be the first to admit, she has become the acceptable face of the party.

Now, at the first attempt, she has proved herself a novelist of some quality. The critics have been kind to the book, which will be in the shops on Thursday. Piers Paul Read said: "The Clematis Tree treats important moral issues within a credible and moving story", and Bel Mooney said that Miss Widdecombe had "crafted a compelling story about the way a family copes with a catastrophe which is as odd and complex as its creator".

Miss Widdecombe's book begins deceptively with all the middle-class chattiness of a Maeve Binchy or a Mary Wesley. Early in the book, at the moment when four-year-old Jeremy Wellings is hit by a drunk driver, it becomes something altogether different - a challenging and thoughtful story about a family living with the consequences of that tragedy.

It is also different from novels by her fellow politicians-turned-novelists, who have plumped for sex, sex and more sex - oh, and the odd thriller. It is a far cry from Scandal, the aptly named maiden offering by Amanda Platell, William Hague's press secretary.

Miss Platell's book, set in the cut-throat world of tabloid journalism, is acknowledged by the author as a "beach read". It tells of the dirty war between two female editors in the same newspaper stable.

Described as "journo-porn" by some critics, the novel features plenty of straight, lesbian and gay sex. On publication, there were fears the book would upset the Tories' blue-rinse brigade. But, highly enjoyable, Miss Platell's sassy novel is exactly the sort of thing they'd probably lap up if it were wrapped in a Catherine Cookson dust jacket.

Another pretender for the Tory literary crown is former minister Edwina Currie, who, like Ms Platell, writes in the bodice-ripper genre. Ms Currie's latest addition to the bookshelf roars Chasing Men from its cover in only slightly smaller lettering than the words Edwina Currie.

Chasing Men is about just that. Inspired by Bridget Jones (but 20 years older), Ms Currie's heroine, newly divorced Hetty Clarkson, gets fruity with a banana, snorts vodka, dates men she's met through lonely hearts columns and passes out at a party.

The real trick to reading these books, perhaps, is to divorce the author from the book. Otherwise you could end up imagining you're in bed with Edwina Currie or debating the rights and wrongs of euthanasia with Ann Widdecombe.

Arts and Entertainment
TV
Arts and Entertainment
Tony breaks into Ian Garrett's yacht and makes a shocking discovery
TVReview: Revelations continue to make this drama a tough watch
Arts and Entertainment

books
Arts and Entertainment
The party's over: Paul Higgins and Stella Gonet in 'Hope' at the Royal Court

theatre
Arts and Entertainment
Brendan O'Carroll as Agnes Brown in the 2014 Mrs Brown's Boys Christmas special

Broadcaster unveils Christmas schedule

TV
PROMOTED VIDEO
Arts and Entertainment
Look out: Broad shoulders take Idris Elba’s DCI John Luther a long way
tvIdris Elba will appear in two special episodes for the BBC next year
Arts and Entertainment
Taylor Swift is dominating album and singles charts worldwide

music
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment

ebooksNow available in paperback
Arts and Entertainment

ebooks
Arts and Entertainment
Kieron Richardson plays gay character Ste Hay in Channel 4 soap Hollyoaks

tv
Arts and Entertainment
Midge Ure and Sir Bob Geldof outside the Notting Hill recording studios for Band Aid 30

music
Arts and Entertainment
Jake Quickenden and Edwina Currie are joining the I'm A Celebrity...Get Me Out Of Here! camp
tvThe two new contestants will join the 'I'm A Celebrity' camp after Gemma Collins' surprise exit
News
The late Jimmy Ruffin, pictured in 1974
people
News
Northern Uproar, pictured in 1996
people

Jeff Fletcher found fame in 1990s

Arts and Entertainment
A scene from the new Paddington bear review

Review: Paddingtonfilm
Arts and Entertainment
Tony stares at the 'Daddy Big Ears' drawing his abducted son Oliver drew for him in The Missing
tvReview: But we're no closer to the truth in 'The Missing'
Arts and Entertainment
Henry Marsh said he was rather 'pleased' at the nomination
booksHenry Marsh's 'Do No Harm' takes doctors off their pedestal
Arts and Entertainment
All in a day's work: the players in the forthcoming 'Posh People: Inside Tatler'

tv
Arts and Entertainment
Eddie Redmayne plays Stephen Hawking in new biopic The Imitation Game

'At times I thought he was me'

film
Arts and Entertainment

books
Arts and Entertainment
One Direction go Fourth: The boys pose on the cover of their new album Four

Review: One Direction, Four

music
Arts and Entertainment
'Game of Thrones' writer George RR Martin

Review: The World of Ice and Fire

books
Arts and Entertainment
Sean Bean will play 'extraordinary hero' Inspector John Marlott in The Frankenstein Chronicles
tvHow long before he gets killed off?
Arts and Entertainment
Some like it hot: Blaise Bellville

music
Arts and Entertainment
A costume worn by model Kate Moss for the 2013 photograph

art
Arts and Entertainment

music
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

ES Rentals

    Independent Dating
    and  

    By clicking 'Search' you
    are agreeing to our
    Terms of Use.

    Homeless Veterans Christmas Appeal: Drifting and forgotten - turning lives around for ex-soldiers

    Homeless Veterans Christmas Appeal: Turning lives around for ex-soldiers

    Our partner charities help veterans on the brink – and get them back on their feet
    Putin’s far-right ambition: Think-tank reveals how Russian President is wooing – and funding – populist parties across Europe to gain influence in the EU

    Putin’s far-right ambition

    Think-tank reveals how Russian President is wooing – and funding – populist parties across Europe to gain influence in the EU
    Tove Jansson's Moominland: What was the inspiration for Finland's most famous family?

    Escape to Moominland

    What was the inspiration for Finland's most famous family?
    Nightclubbing with Richard Young: The story behind his latest book of celebrity photographs

    24-Hour party person

    Photographer Richard Young has been snapping celebrities at play for 40 years. As his latest book is released, he reveals that it wasn’t all fun and games
    Michelle Obama's school dinners: America’s children have a message for the First Lady

    A taste for rebellion

    US children have started an online protest against Michelle Obama’s drive for healthy school meals by posting photos of their lunches
    Colouring books for adults: How the French are going crazy for Crayolas

    Colouring books for adults

    How the French are going crazy for Crayolas
    Jack Thorne's play 'Hope': What would you do as a local politician faced with an impossible choice of cuts?

    What would you do as a local politician faced with an impossible choice of cuts?

    Playwright Jack Thorne's latest work 'Hope' poses the question to audiences
    Ed Harcourt on Romeo Beckham and life as a court composer at Burberry

    Call me Ed Mozart

    Paloma Faith, Lana del Ray... Romeo Beckham. Ed Harcourt has proved that he can write for them all. But it took a personal crisis to turn him from indie star to writer-for-hire
    10 best stocking fillers for foodies

    Festive treats: 10 best stocking fillers for foodies

    From boozy milk to wasabi, give the food-lover in your life some extra-special, unusual treats to wake up to on Christmas morning
    Phil Hughes head injury: He had one weakness – it has come back to haunt him

    Phil Hughes had one weakness – it has come back to haunt him

    Prolific opener had world at his feet until Harmison and Flintoff bounced him
    'I have an age of attraction that starts as low as four': How do you deal with a paedophile who has never committed a crime?

    'I am a paedophile'

    Is our approach to sex offenders helping to create more victims?
    How bad do you have to be to lose a Home Office contract?

    How bad do you have to be to lose a Home Office contract?

    Serco given Yarl’s Wood immigration contract despite ‘vast failings’
    Green Party on the march in Bristol: From a lost deposit to victory

    From a lost deposit to victory

    Green Party on the march in Bristol
    Putting the grot right into Santa's grotto

    Winter blunderlands

    Putting the grot into grotto
    'It just came to us, why not do it naked?' London's first nude free runner captured in breathtaking images across capital

    'It just came to us, why not do it naked?'

    London's first nude free runner captured in breathtaking images across capital