Quite possibly one of the least popular British women of her generation, a much vilified target of tabloid editors, rarely publicly praised, a frequent target for snide ridicule. Cherie Blair is either loathed or loved, I suspect largely depending on the colour of one's pyjamas. That was perhaps so, until now with the publication of this autobiography. If I wore pyjamas they would definitely be an un-bleachable royal blue yet I found this is an honest, accessible account - if not spilling any great secrets - of the life of a remarkable woman living a remarkable life in remarkable times. First and foremost an entertaining and enjoyable read. What strongly comes across are 2 themes - her single minded battle to preserve the sanctity of family life, protecting her children from the adverse effects of their 'celebrity' status; and her successful balance of the rigours of a high profile, high octane career with the pressures of a modern mum. Her `scouseness' shines through with humour, a down-to-earth ruggedness and self-deprecation(assumed or real!). It is refreshing to see revealed Cherie's side of some of the more widely reported `gaffes'; I have to say sympathy more often or not lies with her -as she said herself, `damned if you do, damned if you don't'. I found particularly interesting the brief passage dealing with the aftermath of Princess Diana's death (at some odds with Stephen Frears' film `The Queen'), the so- called 'deal' between Tony Blair and Gordon Brown, and the book's insights into the inner workings of our legal system and a PM's relationship with the Royal family. The whole `Cheriegate' episode, however, shows Ms Booth at her most naïve - headstrong with little political vision even after so many years as the First Lady. But her tale of the little Saudi boy and his burqua'd mother, how first thing in the morning he would pay especial attention to her shoes so as not to become lost in the crowded shopping malls, brought a real smile to my face. I was disappointed with the skimming stone approach to the issue of Iraq but perhaps this is a potato still radiating more than its fair share of heat - this afterall is her story and not a political textbook! I have not yet read her husband's autobiography but I eagerly anticipate comparing their respective versions of history, looking for conformity and consistency - I would be surprised if Tony had not had editorial input into the final draft. I bought this book unashamedly to reinforce my negative prejudices. I put it down with a new found respect for this strong minded but fundamentally normal, ordinary wife, woman and mother. The story rattles along at a steady pace (at times I have to say a little too briskly where there is the opportunity to put a bit more flesh on some big issue bones), but this is my only criticism of the book. I suspect the real aim is achieved - Cherie does indeed speak for herself and I suspect is quite happy that her side of events is now presented in 405 pages . I guess if an autobiography does not ultimately win-over the reader then it has failed - there is no question this one succeeds. No longer for me the reviled woman from the wrong side of the Liver tracks!
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