Book review: The Monstrous Member

I don’t think I’m the only ex-Labour member who is still traumatised by 2015, or the only liberal who still has nightmares about 2016. The atmosphere was unique and grim, and looking back it is difficult for me to do it justice here.

The Monstrous Member is set during that period. It doesn’t shine a particularly partisan tint on in, and a lot of insight is clearly drawn from the author’s own experience on the front line. It follows Marianne Stuart, a young woman inspired by Ed Miliband to start campaigning for Labour in 2015, as she is thrust into the dirty world of politics just as politics is about to fracture even more. She gets a job for an MP after the campaign, and soon finds out just how ruthless her employer, how bad politics can get, and how politics can change your personal life.

Most fiction written about politics focusses entirely on the intrigue, which can fall flat when you have been involved in politics. Sure, Marianne learns to play the game – as others in the book do – but as in real life that isn’t where life ends. Major changes in her personal life tie inextricably to the twists that take you to a fight on the terrace of the House of Commons and its aftermath.

As you might have gleaned from the title, there is a Monstrous Member. Marianne’s boss, Ana Novak MP, has taken a path we’ve seen so many times over recent years. A charming rising star trying to play the game too well, quickly losing their charm. More topically, the way she treats her staff isn’t far from reality. MPs from all parties (and none) have been caught up in bullying allegations in recent years, and the pressure people feel not to speak up is very real. In a way, this book is very timely.

There is one thing I would say, though. I noticed I was getting a handful of funny looks on the train while reading the paperback version, and had no idea why. Until my girlfriend pointed out that the cover looked at first glance like an erotic novel. So if you are worried about getting a funny look on the train from someone who caught a glance of the cover of your book, get the kindle version.

You can buy The Monstrous Member by Patterson Gregory on Amazon here. It is available on Kindle for 99p (or free on Kindle Unlimited) and in paperback for £6.50