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
Nick Hewer is to leave The Apprentice after 10 years

TV review Nick Hewer, the man whose eyebrows speak a thousand words, is set to leave The Apprentice

Arts and Entertainment
Female fans want more explicit male sex in Game of Thrones, George R R Martin says

film George RR Martin owns a cinema in Santa Fe

Arts and Entertainment
Clued up: John Lynch and Gillian Anderson in ‘The Fall’

TV review

Arts and Entertainment
The Baker (James Corden) struggles with Lilla Crawford’s Little Red Riding Hood

film...all the better to bamboozle us
Arts and Entertainment
English: Romantic Landscape

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

ebooksNow available in paperback
Arts and Entertainment

Arts and Entertainment
Mark, Katie and Sanjay in The Apprentice boardroom
Arts and Entertainment

Film The critics but sneer but these unfashionable festive films are our favourites

Arts and Entertainment
Frances O'Connor and James Nesbitt in 'The Missing'

TV We're so close to knowing what happened to Oliver Hughes, but a last-minute bluff crushes expectations

Arts and Entertainment
Joey Essex will be hitting the slopes for series two of The Jump


Who is taking the plunge?
Arts and Entertainment
Katy Perry as an Ancient Egyptian princess in her latest music video for 'Dark Horse'

Arts and Entertainment
Dame Judi Dench, as M in Skyfall

Arts and Entertainment
Morrissey, 1988

Arts and Entertainment
William Pooley from Suffolk is flying out to Free Town, Sierra Leone, to continue working in health centres to fight Ebola after surviving the disease himself

Arts and Entertainment
The Newsroom creator Aaron Sorkin

Arts and Entertainment
Matt Berry (centre), the star of Channel 4 sitcom 'Toast of London'

TVA disappointingly dull denouement
Arts and Entertainment
Tales from the cryptanalyst: Benedict Cumberbatch in 'The Imitation Game'

Arts and Entertainment
Pixie Lott has been voted off Strictly Come Dancing 2014

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

ES Rentals

    Independent Dating

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

    Homeless Veterans appeal: 'You look for someone who's an inspiration and try to be like them'

    Homeless Veterans appeal

    In 2010, Sgt Gary Jamieson stepped on an IED in Afghanistan and lost his legs and an arm. He reveals what, and who, helped him to make a remarkable recovery
    Could cannabis oil reverse the effects of cancer?

    Could cannabis oil reverse effects of cancer?

    As a film following six patients receiving the controversial treatment is released, Kate Hilpern uncovers a very slippery issue
    The Interview movie review: You can't see Seth Rogen and James Franco's Kim Jong Un assassination film, but you can read about it here

    The Interview movie review

    You can't see Seth Rogen and James Franco's Kim Jong Un assassination film, but you can read about it here
    Serial mania has propelled podcasts into the cultural mainstream

    How podcasts became mainstream

    People have consumed gripping armchair investigation Serial with a relish typically reserved for box-set binges
    Jesus Christ has become an unlikely pin-up for hipster marketing companies

    Jesus Christ has become an unlikely pin-up

    Kevin Lee Light, aka "Jesus", is the newest client of creative agency Mother while rival agency Anomaly has launched Sexy Jesus, depicting the Messiah in a series of Athena-style poses
    Rosetta space mission voted most important scientific breakthrough of 2014

    A memorable year for science – if not for mice

    The most important scientific breakthroughs of 2014
    Christmas cocktails to make you merry: From eggnog to Brown Betty and Rum Bumpo

    Christmas cocktails to make you merry

    Mulled wine is an essential seasonal treat. But now drinkers are rediscovering other traditional festive tipples. Angela Clutton raises a glass to Christmas cocktails
    5 best activity trackers

    Fitness technology: 5 best activity trackers

    Up the ante in your regimen and change the habits of a lifetime with this wearable tech
    Paul Scholes column: It's a little-known fact, but I have played one of the seven dwarves

    Paul Scholes column

    It's a little-known fact, but I have played one of the seven dwarves
    Fifa's travelling circus once again steals limelight from real stars

    Fifa's travelling circus once again steals limelight from real stars

    Club World Cup kicked into the long grass by the continued farce surrounding Blatter, Garcia, Russia and Qatar
    Frank Warren column: 2014 – boxing is back and winning new fans

    Frank Warren: Boxing is back and winning new fans

    2014 proves it's now one of sport's biggest hitters again
    Jeb Bush vs Hillary Clinton: The power dynamics of the two first families

    Jeb Bush vs Hillary Clinton

    Karen Tumulty explores the power dynamics of the two first families
    Stockholm is rivalling Silicon Valley with a hotbed of technology start-ups

    Stockholm is rivalling Silicon Valley

    The Swedish capital is home to two of the most popular video games in the world, as well as thousands of technology start-ups worth hundreds of millions of pounds – and it's all happened since 2009
    Did Japanese workers really get their symbols mixed up and display Santa on a crucifix?

    Crucified Santa: Urban myth refuses to die

    The story goes that Japanese store workers created a life-size effigy of a smiling "Father Kurisumasu" attached to a facsimile of Our Lord's final instrument of torture
    Jennifer Saunders and Kate Moss join David Walliams on set for TV adaptation of The Boy in the Dress

    The Boy in the Dress: On set with the stars

    Walliams' story about a boy who goes to school in a dress will be shown this Christmas