Ann Widdecombe should now have time to finish her second novel. It was due for publication this summer, but had to be deferred till next year because of the election campaign. The heroine of An Act of Treachery is to be a convent schoolgirl in Occupied France; she falls in love with a senior German officer who, to give the story real moral complexity, is also married. Il n'y a que le texte? Let's hope so. Besides joining the current flurry of neither-up-nor-down-market novels that have to do with the Second World War, including Joanne Harris's Five Quarters of the Orange and A Son of War by Melvyn Bragg, An Act of Treachery follows the success of Widdecombe's first novel, The Clematis Tree. That tale of a child brain-damaged in a car accident could be said to have something of the night about it. Edwina Currie, whose novels include A Parliamentary Affair and Chasing Men, described The Clematis Tree in the Mail on Sunday as 'the product of a perceptive but warped mind'; she also complained about its shying away from sex. The title of An Act of Treachery suggests things may be set to change; but we shouldn't forget the words of St Matthew (the convent schoolgirl wouldn't): 'whosoever looketh on a woman' - or Nazi officer - 'to lust after' etc. All will be revealed in January, so long as the leadership of the Tory Party doesn't get in the way.
LRB 21 June 2001 | PDF Download