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.

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

ebooksNow available in paperback
Arts and Entertainment

ebooks
Arts and Entertainment
Feeling all at sea: Barbara's 18-year-old son came under the influence of a Canadian libertarian preacher – and she had to fight to win him back
TV review
Arts and Entertainment
Living the high life: Anne Robinson enjoys some skip-surfed soup
TV review
Arts and Entertainment

Great British Bake Off
Arts and Entertainment
Doctor Who and Missy in the Doctor Who series 8 finale

TV
Arts and Entertainment

film
Arts and Entertainment
Chvrches lead singer Lauren Mayberry in the band's new video 'Leave a Trace'

music
Arts and Entertainment

music
Arts and Entertainment
Home on the raunch: George Bisset (Aneurin Barnard), Lady Seymour Worsley (Natalie Dormer) and Richard Worsley (Shaun Evans)

TV review
Arts and Entertainment

TV
Arts and Entertainment
Strictly Come Dancing was watched by 6.9m viewers

Strictly
Arts and Entertainment
NWA biopic Straight Outta Compton

film
Arts and Entertainment
Natalie Dormer as Margaery Tyrell and Lena Headey as Cersei Lannister in Game of Thrones

Game of Thrones
Arts and Entertainment
New book 'The Rabbit Who Wants To Fall Asleep' by Carl-Johan Forssen Ehrlin

books
Arts and Entertainment
Calvi is not afraid of exploring the deep stuff: loneliness, anxiety, identity, reinvention
music
Arts and Entertainment
Edinburgh solo performers Neil James and Jessica Sherr
comedy
Arts and Entertainment
If a deal to buy tBeats, founded by hip-hop star Dr Dre (pictured) and music producer Jimmy Iovine went through, it would be Apple’s biggest ever acquisition

album review
Arts and Entertainment
Paloma Faith is joining The Voice as a new coach

TV
Arts and Entertainment
Dowton Abbey has been pulling in 'telly tourists', who are visiting Highclere House in Berkshire

TV
Arts and Entertainment

TV
Arts and Entertainment
Patriot games: Vic Reeves featured in ‘Very British Problems’
TV review
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
SPONSORED FEATURES

ES Rentals

    Independent Dating
    and  

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

    Isis profits from destruction of antiquities by selling relics to dealers - and then blowing up the buildings they come from to conceal the evidence of looting

    How Isis profits from destruction of antiquities

    Robert Fisk on the terrorist group's manipulation of the market to increase the price of artefacts
    Labour leadership: Andy Burnham urges Jeremy Corbyn voters to think again in last-minute plea

    'If we lose touch we’ll end up with two decades of the Tories'

    In an exclusive interview, Andy Burnham urges Jeremy Corbyn voters to think again in last-minute plea
    Tunisia fears its Arab Spring could be reversed as the new regime becomes as intolerant of dissent as its predecessor

    The Arab Spring reversed

    Tunisian protesters fear that a new law will whitewash corrupt businessmen and officials, but they are finding that the new regime is becoming as intolerant of dissent as its predecessor
    King Arthur: Legendary figure was real and lived most of his life in Strathclyde, academic claims

    Academic claims King Arthur was real - and reveals where he lived

    Dr Andrew Breeze says the legendary figure did exist – but was a general, not a king
    Who is Oliver Bonas and how has he captured middle-class hearts?

    Who is Oliver Bonas?

    It's the first high-street store to pay its staff the living wage, and it saw out the recession in style
    Earth has 'lost more than half its trees' since humans first started cutting them down

    Axe-wielding Man fells half the world’s trees – leaving us just 422 each

    However, the number of trees may be eight times higher than previously thought
    60 years of Scalextric: Model cars are now stuffed with as much tech as real ones

    60 years of Scalextric

    Model cars are now stuffed with as much tech as real ones
    Theme parks continue to draw in thrill-seekers despite the risks - so why are we so addicted?

    Why are we addicted to theme parks?

    Now that Banksy has unveiled his own dystopian version, Christopher Beanland considers the ups and downs of our endless quest for amusement
    Tourism in Iran: The country will soon be opening up again after years of isolation

    Iran is opening up again to tourists

    After years of isolation, Iran is reopening its embassies abroad. Soon, there'll be the chance for the adventurous to holiday there
    10 best PS4 games

    10 best PS4 games

    Can’t wait for the new round of blockbusters due out this autumn? We played through last year’s offering
    Transfer window: Ten things we learnt

    Ten things we learnt from the transfer window

    Record-breaking spending shows FFP restraint no longer applies
    Migrant crisis: UN official Philippe Douste-Blazy reveals the harrowing sights he encountered among refugees arriving on Lampedusa

    ‘Can we really just turn away?’

    Dead bodies, men drowning, women miscarrying – a senior UN figure on the horrors he has witnessed among migrants arriving on Lampedusa, and urges politicians not to underestimate our caring nature
    Nine of Syria and Iraq's 10 world heritage sites are in danger as Isis ravages centuries of history

    Nine of Syria and Iraq's 10 world heritage sites are in danger...

    ... and not just because of Isis vandalism
    Girl on a Plane: An exclusive extract of the novelisation inspired by the 1970 Palestinian fighters hijack

    Girl on a Plane

    An exclusive extract of the novelisation inspired by the 1970 Palestinian fighters hijack
    Why Frederick Forsyth's spying days could spell disaster for today's journalists

    Why Frederick Forsyth's spying days could spell disaster for today's journalists

    The author of 'The Day of the Jackal' has revealed he spied for MI6 while a foreign correspondent