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Strictly Ann: The Autobiography Hardcover – 6 Jun 2013
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she gives a unique insight into the workings of government from her time as a minister in three departments and as a member of the Shadow cabinet in the 1990s. (DAILY EXPRESS)
You wouldn't expect Ann Widdecombe to pull her punches - but there's NEVER been a political autobiography quite like this... (THE MAIL ON SUNDAY)
The book captures the intensity of emotions and the relentlessness of intrigue at Westminster for a minister determined to hold on to her integrity under what feels to her like pressure from all sides. It is a vivid portrayal of a world she clearly loves. (Rachel Sylvester THE TIMES)
It is briskly and competently written..... if you are a Widdy fan, as she seems to believe most people are, you'll enjoy this book. (Lynn Barber THE SUNDAY TIMES)
Ann Widdecombe has sailed through life with the same brisk, no-nonsense style that she brings to this highly readable memoir. (Lloyd Evans THE SPECTATOR)
The book is breezily written, as befits the author of four novels, and characteristically honest. (Stephen Moss The Guardian)
a feisty public figure in an increasingly conformist world, a woman who doesn't give a toss what you think about her looks and isn't prepared to compromise her views for anyone (Ian Thomson EVENING STANDARD)
From Singapore to Dartmoor and Parliament to the pantomime stage, Ann takes readers on a gloriously entertaining journey through her life. (HELLO magazine)
Publishers know that the sales of political memoirs depend entirely on the author's popularity. This explains why Alan Johnson's autobiography has risen skywards while poor David Blunkett's performed a bellyflop. Widdecombe's ripping tale will follow the flightpath of the former. (Lloyd Evans THE SPECTATOR)
If feminism is about robust individualism and uncompromising, occasionally bolshie personality - and your guess is as good as mine - well, she's up there with Mary Beard..........She's good-humoured about the controversies but gets her own back. (Melanie McDonagh THE EVENING STANDARD)
Ann Widdecombe is big. It's politics that got small. (Liz Jones THE MAIL ON SUNDAY)
She has a compelling story to tell, particularly about political dramas at the heart of Westminster and, with the instinctive gift for narrative that has made her a successful novelist, she relates it in a highly readable style. (Leo McKinstry DAILY EXPRESS)
Hugely entertaining autobiography...the principal joy of this book, though, is that, reading it, you could just as easily be sitting chatting to Ann. (Peter Stanford THE CATHOLIC HERALD)
But I have great pleasure in saying that this book is a cut above the usual political autobiography and I would have been proud to publish it. (Iain Dale LBC.CO.UK)
The former minister, author and Express columnist's life story is clearly a gripping read. (SUNDAY EXPRESS)
This is a charming portrait of growing up, an insightful portrait of an age, and a candid account of the mess of Parliament from a survivor of the electoral carnage of 1997. (Pat Ashworth CHURCH TIMES)
[on Ann] She had many of Thatcher's qualities, with more of the wit... (John Rentoul POLITICAL BOOKS)
The book is breezily written, as befits the author of four novels, and characteristically honest. (Stephen Moss THE GUARDIAN)
Forthright memoirs of a singular personality - former MP and STRICTLY COME DANCING star, Ann Widdecombe.See all Product description
Top customer reviews
I have seen her views on many subjects overs the years ranging from Rupert Bear to Roman Catholicism and she reads and sounds like a caring person with strong views. She has a weekly column in the Daily Express which is a very odd choice for someone with some strong moral views as she must be aware of how the owner first made his mark in publishing. It is this sort of anomaly that persists throughout the book. She, as with so many former politicians, is never wrong. She is able to write clearly and with attention to detail which I find more interesting than some reviewers who feel she tends to waffle.
She is best known for changing her hair colour, a comment she made about Michael Howard, her obviously strong desire to pursue a media career and she tends to appear in press, print and photo as often as Gloria Hunniford. This book is like her television appearnaces and commentaries - not particularly memorable but interesting. Whereas a former colleague of hers, Michael Portillo,who was probably likely or loathed while in office in equal measure and in a similar vein to Ann, has produced some outstanding railway documentaries which have been presented in a charming and pleasant manner which have made many viewers totally alter their views about him, Ann seems to be keen (desperate?) to keep in the public view but has yet to find the most suitable avenue to do so so she has a go at everything and perhaps one of the balls in the air might turn out to be one that can be juggled with to public acclaim.
This is a book that certainly does more than scratch the surface but she has not always mined seams of strata that would probably have contained pure gold-dust!
She starts by telling us about her childhood when, as the daughter of a senior member of the Admiralty, her family moved from posting to posting both in Britain and abroad. She talks about her time as a boarder in a convent school and as a student at Birmingham University. She was clear from an early age that she wanted to go into politics so spent the next several years during the '70s and '80s seeking nomination to a constituency, before eventually becoming an MP in 1987.
Widdecombe is a talented writer and she makes this an interesting tale, filled with anecdotes, both humorous and serious. We get a clear picture of the things that are important to her - family, conservatism with a small as well as a large C, and her strong Christian faith: the influence of which can be seen in every aspect of her life. Pro-life, anti-gay marriage, she eventually found the Anglican church in which she grew up to be veering too far from doctrine in an attempt to placate modern sensibilities; and her conversion to Roman Catholicism took place when the Church of England voted to ordain women priests. Whether the reader agrees with her views or not, she puts forward cogent arguments for her beliefs and actions on all of these divisive questions.
Her political career had its highs and lows and this book concentrates very much on the aspects of government in which she was personally involved, rather than giving a broader picture of the political events of the time. Hence we get a great deal of detail over the prisons debacle that led to her public fight with Michael Howard, for example, but very little about the downfall of Thatcher or the lead-up to the war in Iraq. However, her own career was varied enough to provide plenty of interest and her written style is much like her spoken - forthright, uncompromising and often witty.
Widdecombe spends the last couple of chapters telling us about her life since she left Parliament in 2010 including, of course, her involvement with Strictly Come Dancing, which made her a household name even amongst those who pay no attention to politics. Overall, this book confirms my opinion of her as a woman who would probably be intensely irritating on occasion, difficult to persuade, a bad enemy...but a good and loyal friend, a loving daughter and a witty and sometimes wickedly funny companion. This autobiography isn't just for political nerds like myself - there's plenty of politics here, but also a story of a much wider and interesting life before and after her time in Parliament. Recommended.
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