Monday, October 07, 2002

Tory Party Leader Set to Publish Book

It is going to be the latest steamy political blockbuster to embarrass the Conservative Party, but this time it is different: it has been written by the Tory leader himself.

With the party still reeling over the Edwina Currie, Alan Clark and Jeffrey Archer diaries, Iain Duncan Smith has at last found a publisher for his own first novel.

Mr Duncan Smith's manuscript was rejected by several literary agents and publishing houses and a Conservative spokesman indicated a year ago that it had been shelved, with the party leader "concentrating on the political situation".

Mr Duncan Smith's literary agent, Guy Rose confirmed, however, that he was preparing to make an announcement of a deal for the book, titled Ithaca, "very soon" - possibly even at this week's Frankfurt Book Fair.

Mr Duncan Smith wrote the thriller over three summer holidays before being catapulted to the head of his party.

Its central character is John Grand, an unhappily married art dealer whose adventures take him to Washington, Greece and London in a tale of "deception and power" which includes a gay villain, who gets his come-uppance.

Speaking about his literary effort last year, Mr Duncan Smith gave no clues as to whether Ithaca was based on real-life events at Westminster - as has been suggested of Mrs Currie's own steamy political romans a clef.

"The homosexual character comes a cropper due to his own deceit," he said. "The novel is about how someone can be so determined to get to the top that they will do almost anything."

Prurient readers will be disappointed to learn, however, that there is no sex in the book: the Tory leader, unlike Mrs Currie, leaves the lovers he describes at the bedroom door.

Mr. Smith's agent went on to say that lifelong Tory Andrew Sullivan has read an advance copy and found it "very true to life."*

*Everyone can play! Submit your Sullivan quotes in the comments.