Diary of an MP's Wife: Inside and Outside Power: 'riotously candid' Sunday Times

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Diary of an MP's Wife: Inside and Outside Power: 'riotously candid' Sunday Times

Diary of an MP's Wife: Inside and Outside Power: 'riotously candid' Sunday Times

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It is 30 years since Hazel Holt's biography; many more since David Cecil and Philip Larkin championed her novels. Just once in a while a book comes long which allows the hot-polloi to peep behind the curtain and see the machinery of the theatre of British political life. Someone who I’ve met and whose general reputation is for total charmlessness, was surprisingly (to me) described as “charming” – presumably for being nice to her. I bought this book cheap, intending to skim read interesting bits, but ended up reading it cover-to-cover.

Despite the bitchy, rather sniping tone which gives the book its flavour (and frankly, is the main reason most people will read it) she is a pretty astute judge of character and nails (or skewers) a lot of people with disarming accuracy. When she discovers Dave “laughing uproariously” in conversation with her husband about the supposedly unusual characteristics of historian Andrew Roberts’s “male member” and comparing notes on which female politicians were “beddable”, she is positively indulgent.The book’s strengths were its humour, her really quite prescient assessments of people (she absolutely nailed Meghan Markle and Prince Harry) and a certain amount of self-awareness. There’s a scene in Sasha Swire’s Diary of an MP’s Wife, an insider’s account of the Tory clique that has ruled Britain for the past decade, which somehow sums it all up. One can only imagine Buckingham Palace’s reaction meanwhile to her observation, following a private dinner with Prince Edward in 2010, that he “seems overwhelmed with relief that the Conservatives have got in”. Remarkables REMARKABLES Intriguing, stunning, or otherwise remarkable books These include fine editions, foreign publications that are exceptional for their interest or production, special editions and some first-rate books from very small publishers. I giggled when there was some mention of someone who had fallen foul of him and was a “name forever loathed in the Nott household” – ah, I thought, just like Nott in ours.

The diary covers not only the rise and fall of the Cameroons, but also the shenanigans surrounding Brexit and the inexorable rise of Boris, concluding at the end of last year when Sir Hugo (as he was by then) left parliament. It’s very much a view of politics from inside “the gang” and to read it is to understand the grating rage of those outside, realising that power lies not around the cabinet table but in jolly kitchen suppers with an impenetrable clique of old friends. Perennials PERENNIALS constant friends A selection of novels, memoirs and more by some of our favourite authors. The pesky MP's wife may have a better sense of public taste than all the players strutting on the political stage. Insecure but fiercely precocious, the young Sontag devours everything that culture offers up to her.She moved in circles whose values may not be to everyone’s taste (anti-green, anti-poor, anti-common) but she certainly tells it as she sees it and I don’t think she was as bad as the others.



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