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15 of 18 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Does everybody have an opinion about this woma.n?, 24 Jun. 2008
This review is from: Speaking for Myself: The Autobiography (Hardcover)
Reading the other reviews written about this book will show you that Cherie Blair is a woman about whom everybody has an opinion, and a strong one, at that.

This book is not a political biography, nor an analysis of the first ten years of the New Labour Government. It is a partial biography written by a woman who has some claim to recognition in her own right, but whose major claim to fame is that she is married to Tony Blair. Interestingly, although she uses Cherie Booth as her professional name, and most of her other books have been written under that name, this book was by Cherie Blair.

Cherie Blair is obviously an intelligent woman, graduating top of her year in law, and forging a career at the bar (in what is still a male-dominated profession) whilst looking after a home and family. What's more, she made it against all odds, coming from what was virtually a one-parent family at a time when such families did not receive the support that they now enjoy. Perhaps that goes some way towards explaining her extraordinary blend of shrewdness and naivete.

Surely she must have realised that, on the day after her husband became Prime Minister, there would be cameras trained on her front door - and that any embarrassing photographs would be recycled endlessly? How could she have been taken in by the likes of Carole Caplin? Didn't she have any friends of her own who could have pointed out the obvious truth that hangers-on who were attracted to her because of her position were in it for their benefit, and not hers? Even on leaving Number 10, didn't she realise that her throwaway line to the press about not missing them, even if intended as a joke, would be the thing that most people remembered about her husband's exit from the highest office in the land?

Another strand that runs through this book is Cherie Blair's worry about financial security. That's only natural, given her background, but she is a successful barrister, whose earnings (and earning potential) far outstrip those of most people. She is also married to a man who will not have to rely on his (not insubstantial) Prime Minister's pension, but who has the ability to earn a fortune in the future. Her apparent obsession with money does seem to sit rather uncomfortably on the shoulders of a self-professed left winger.

What this book does emphasise is the difficulty of being a successful woman as well as the wife of the Prime Minister. Most Number 10 wives have kept in the background, but that is not Cherie Blair's way. She seems to believe that the place for the head is firmly above the parapet, and she does seem to have attracted blame for things that were not of her making. As far as I know, nobody blamed Mrs Eden for the Suez crisis, or Mrs Chamberlain for the Munich debacle, so why is Cherie held partly responsible for the fact that her husband ordered the troops into Iraq?

We will all have to wait for Tony Blair's autobiography for an explanation of the political thinking that has shaped the past decade, but this book might give you an idea of what it's like to be in the grey area behind the throne.
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Location: West Sussex

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