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
Christopher Eccleston (centre) plays an ex-policeman in this cliché-riddled thriller

TV review
Arts and Entertainment
Lena Headey looks very serious as Cersei Lannister in Game of Thrones

TV This TV review contains spoilers
Arts and Entertainment

film
Arts and Entertainment
Wiz Khalifa performs on stage during day one of the Wireless Festival at Perry Park in Birmingham

music
Arts and Entertainment
Festival-goers soak up the atmosphere at Glastonbury

music

Arts and Entertainment
Star Wars creator George Lucas

film

Arts and Entertainment

music

Arts and Entertainment
A shot from the forthcoming Fast and Furious 7

film

Arts and Entertainment
The new-look Top of the Pops could see Fearne Cotton returns as a host alongside Dermot O'Leary

TV

Arts and Entertainment
The leader of the Church of Scientology David Miscavige

TV

Arts and Entertainment
No half measures: ‘The Secret Life of the Pub’

Grace Dent on TV The Secret Life of the Pub is sexist, ageist and a breath of fresh air

Arts and Entertainment
Art on their sleeves: before downloads and streaming, enthusiasts used to flick through racks of albums in their local record shops
musicFor Lois Pryce, working in a record shop was a dream job - until the bean counters ruined it
Arts and Entertainment
Serial suspect: the property heir charged with first-degree murder, Robert Durst
TV review
Arts and Entertainment
Igarashi in her

Art Megumi Igarashi criticises Japan's 'backwards' attitude to women's sexual expression

Arts and Entertainment
Could Ed Sheeran conquer the Seven Kingdoms? He could easily pass for a Greyjoy like Alfie Allen's character (right)

tv Singer could become the most unlikely star of Westeros

Arts and Entertainment
Beyonce, Boris Johnson, Putin, Nigel Farage, Russell Brand and Andy Murray all get the Spitting Image treatment from Newzoids
tvReview: The sketches need to be very short and very sharp as puppets are not intrinsically funny
Arts and Entertainment
Despite the controversy it caused, Mile Cyrus' 'Wrecking Ball' video won multiple awards
musicPoll reveals over 70% of the British public believe sexually explicit music videos should get ratings
Arts and Entertainment
Lena Headey as Cersei Lannister and Ian Beattie as Meryn Trant in the fifth season of Game of Thrones

TV
Arts and Entertainment

book review
Arts and Entertainment
It's all in the genes: John Simm working in tandem with David Threlfall in 'Code of a Killer'

TV review
  • Get to the point
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.

    Not even the 'putrid throat' could stop the Ross Poldark swoon-fest'

    Not even the 'putrid throat' could stop the Ross Poldark swoon-fest'

    How a costume drama became a Sunday night staple
    Miliband promises no stamp duty for first-time buyers as he pushes Tories on housing

    Miliband promises no stamp duty for first-time buyers

    Labour leader pushes Tories on housing
    Aviation history is littered with grand failures - from the the Bristol Brabazon to Concorde - but what went wrong with the SuperJumbo?

    Aviation history is littered with grand failures

    But what went wrong with the SuperJumbo?
    Fear of Putin, Islamists and immigration is giving rise to a new generation of Soviet-style 'iron curtains' right across Europe

    Fortress Europe?

    Fear of Putin, Islamists and immigration is giving rise to a new generation of 'iron curtains'
    Never mind what you're wearing, it's what you're reclining on

    Never mind what you're wearing

    It's what you're reclining on that matters
    General Election 2015: Chuka Umunna on the benefits of immigration, humility – and his leader Ed Miliband

    Chuka Umunna: A virus of racism runs through Ukip

    The shadow business secretary on the benefits of immigration, humility – and his leader Ed Miliband
    Yemen crisis: This exotic war will soon become Europe's problem

    Yemen's exotic war will soon affect Europe

    Terrorism and boatloads of desperate migrants will be the outcome of the Saudi air campaign, says Patrick Cockburn
    Marginal Streets project aims to document voters in the run-up to the General Election

    Marginal Streets project documents voters

    Independent photographers Joseph Fox and Orlando Gili are uploading two portraits of constituents to their website for each day of the campaign
    Game of Thrones: Visit the real-life kingdom of Westeros to see where violent history ends and telly tourism begins

    The real-life kingdom of Westeros

    Is there something a little uncomfortable about Game of Thrones shooting in Northern Ireland?
    How to survive a social-media mauling, by the tough women of Twitter

    How to survive a Twitter mauling

    Mary Beard, Caroline Criado-Perez, Louise Mensch, Bunny La Roche and Courtney Barrasford reveal how to trounce the trolls
    Gallipoli centenary: At dawn, the young remember the young who perished in one of the First World War's bloodiest battles

    At dawn, the young remember the young

    A century ago, soldiers of the Empire – many no more than boys – spilt on to Gallipoli’s beaches. On this 100th Anzac Day, there are personal, poetic tributes to their sacrifice
    Dissent is slowly building against the billions spent on presidential campaigns – even among politicians themselves

    Follow the money as never before

    Dissent is slowly building against the billions spent on presidential campaigns – even among politicians themselves, reports Rupert Cornwell
    Samuel West interview: The actor and director on austerity, unionisation, and not mentioning his famous parents

    Samuel West interview

    The actor and director on austerity, unionisation, and not mentioning his famous parents
    General Election 2015: Imagine if the leading political parties were fashion labels

    Imagine if the leading political parties were fashion labels

    Fashion editor, Alexander Fury, on what the leaders' appearances tell us about them
    Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka: Home can be the unsafest place for women

    Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka: Home can be the unsafest place for women

    The architect of the HeForShe movement and head of UN Women on the world's failure to combat domestic violence