14,765 book reviews and counting...

Books in the Media Update

This website is no longer being updated; theBookseller.com is the home of all books related-content and will continue to be updated with regular articles about books featured in the media. Thank you for using this website, and we hope you join us on theBookseller.com.

Diary of an MP's Wife Reviews

Diary of an MP's Wife by Sasha Swire

Diary of an MP's Wife: Inside and Outside Power

Sasha Swire

3.71 out of 5

9 reviews

Imprint: Little, Brown
Publisher: Little, Brown Book Group
Publication date: 24 Sep 2020
ISBN: 9781408713419

Sasha Swire's diaries open a fabulously insightful and revealing window on Westminster life - one never documented before.

2 stars out of 5
20 Dec 2020

"A private diary is a self-portrait, the speech delivered to the bathroom mirror, which does not always play so well outside."

Meanwhile, Hugo is still in Parliament and trying to find out from Soames who to talk to in the whips’ office so that his shooting weekends aren’t interrupted by a summons to return for a vote. Sasha follows the excruciating course of events in Parliament and is relentlessly scathing about ‘old ma May’ and her frustrated attempts to reach some kind of deal. Amber calls on her way back from the Conservative Party conference in 2017 to say that watching May’s frailty on stage during her unfortunate coughing fit was ‘agonising’, but Swire presses on with what she refers to as ‘my conversation’ about Boris Johnson’s leadership chances until Rudd ‘sighs heavily’ and says: ‘Do you know, Sasha, I just can’t talk about him any more ... He just dominates everything.’ They agree, however, that his performance at the conference shows that he has no hope of being leader. Two years later when he is prime minister, Rudd resigns the whip because, she says, the government is actively pursuing a no-deal Brexit. Swire is ‘apoplectic with rage’ at the disloyalty. Hugo stands down as planned at the last election, getting out of politics while there is still time to make some real money.


2 stars out of 5
Michael White
1 Oct 2020

"Sasha Swire can’t quite establish a sufficiently consistent or convincing tone of voice and doesn’t know enough"

The most readable diarists, the Chips Channons and Alan Clarks, are often bit-part players with a streak of self-harming vanity in print. Pepys, a historically significant figure, had it too. Sasha Swire can’t quite establish a sufficiently consistent or convincing tone of voice and doesn’t know enough. A lifelong diarist, she insists she never intended to publish her journals until she showed them to the leading literary agent Caroline Dawnay, as one does with secret diaries.

4 stars out of 5
Janice Turner
28 Sep 2020

"Full of enraging ancedotes of the rich and powerful, Diary of an MP’s Wife shows how the Cameroons treated public office like a luxury holiday villa."

Crucially, she notes he is so bored writing his memoir that he simply speaks it into a Dictaphone, with no care for its literary merit. Was this the catalyst for Swire – a former journalist who writes very well, not just on politics, but about marriage, social mores and the English countryside – to publish her diaries? A political era is too often defined by cautious male dullards. About time sharp, funny, indiscreet women had a go.

4 stars out of 5
Sonia Purnell
27 Sep 2020

"These acerbic political diaries illuminate the snobbery at the heart of the incestuous Cameron government"

If you needed proof that Britain has been misruled by the unserious, entitled, snobbish, incestuous and curiously childish then the acerbic Lady Swire, unwittingly or not, has provided it. In 500-odd pages of deftly edited diary entries covering her observations and conversations during the tumultuous years of 2010 to 2019, she lifts the veil on the doings of a political class that is difficult to like, admire or respect. The court of King David, to which Sasha and her Etonian MP husband, Sir Hugo, belonged during Cameron’s Downing Street years, was nothing if not homogeneous.


4 stars out of 5
26 Sep 2020

"Her descriptions of the Tory elite’s shenanigans in the past decade is candid, outrageous and often hilarious"

No holds are barred. Sasha is candid, irreverent, occasionally outrageous and sometimes hilarious. This a world that ordinary mortals, even most Tories, can only glimpse from afar. Hugo — Eton, Sandhurst, Sotheby’s; Sasha — daughter of Mrs Thatcher’s one-time defence secretary, Sir John Knott. Together they have an entrée to all the best salons: Rothchilds, Rothermeres, Rausings, they all feature. There are dinner parties at No. 10, weekends at Chequers, Chevening and Dorney Wood; holidays with the Camerons in Cornwall. Hugo, an upmarket auctioneer by profession, is much in demand at Tory fund-raisers, peppered as they are with obscenely rich oligarchs and (as Sasha calls them) ‘hedgies’. To celebrate his 60th birthday the billionaire Michael Spencer, one-time Tory treasurer, flies a planeload of his ‘besties’ to Marrakesh for ‘an orgy of opulence and bacchanalia’.

4 stars out of 5
25 Sep 2020

"A fun but ruthless look at life among the Cameron clique by the wife of former Tory minister Hugo Swire"

The wife of Hugo Swire, a little-known former Tory minister and confidant of David Cameron, she has published the type of political book that comes along perhaps less than once a decade. She stitches up her friends, especially the Camerons, as well as her acquaintances, including royals and aristocrats. Diary of an MP’s Wife is, at least in parts, very entertaining. Swire comes as close as anyone has to replicating Alan Clark’s diaries for the Cameron era.

4 stars out of 5
Julian Glover
22 Sep 2020

"a glorious, compelling, jaw-dropping read. Just don’t mistake it for a full picture of political life"

Should I recommend you spend your time with 500 pages of brilliantly sourced, hastily written but vivid tittle-tattle about what some of the people who used to run the country did when they were not actually running the country (when the former was always the most interesting thing about them)?.. From the first page to the last, it is a riot of absurdity, as all human life is. That makes it a glorious, compelling, jaw-dropping read. Just don’t mistake it for a full picture of political life.

4 stars out of 5
Gaby Hinsliff
18 Sep 2020

"a thrillingly indiscreet political memoir"

Most explanations of why Britain voted first for Brexit, and then for Johnson’s radicalised strain of Conservatism, focus rightly on the wider demographic and economic shifts that fuelled a revolt against the status quo. But in Swire’s vignettes of Cameron’s chillaxed post-Downing Street life – telling his daughter he has a meeting, only to sit watching back-to-back episodes of Game of Thrones – and her perceptions of a very different, less privileged generation rising through the party lies another small piece of the jigsaw. Towards the end, she writes, Cameron came to support a second referendum to prevent a hard Brexit, yet he doesn’t seem to have been driven to re-engage fully with the public debate. Was this gilded circle defeated, at least in part, because their opponents were simply hungrier? Perhaps we’ll have to wait for Carrie Symonds’s memoirs to find out.

5 stars out of 5
Simon Heffer
18 Sep 2020

"This waspish insider account of the past decade in politics is also profoundly depressing – for what it says about the people who govern us"

So although these diaries are highly readable and entertaining they are also profoundly depressing, for what they say, with remarkable candour, about the sort of people who now govern us. The millions of British people convinced that believing in nothing and having an ability to lie through one’s teeth are the prerequisites for a political career today would not have their minds changed by reading this book. If we have the politicians we deserve we must be an appalling people. However, there have been no political diaries to match the insightfulness and style of these since Alan Clark’s and, like his, they will become an essential point of reference for those who wish to understand the politics of the age they describe.