Friday, January 01, 2010

Book Review: Gyles Brandreth's New Volume of Diaries

I've said it before, and I will say it again, Gyles Brandreth's diaries BREAKING THE CODE are the best political book of the last decade. So when I bought his new volume of diaries SOMETHING SENSATIONAL TO READ IN THE TRAIN I was almost salivating. The book covers 1959 to the end of the last millennium and includes some extracts already published in the previous volume.

I have to say I think it was a mistake the publish the whole thing in one volume. It means that there can be weeks between entries, which sometimes destroys a natural flow. At times it reads like a litany of lunches of famous people Gyles had had lunch with. Not that this is not entertaining in itself - it is. But I reckon there would have been enough material for at least three volumes. The one volume condensed version should have been published at the end of that process.

But I am nit picking. I love Gyles Brandreth - and I'd better be open about this, he and his long suffering wife Michele are friends of ours. I got to know Gyles when I ran Politico's and I appeared frequently on his much missed Sunday afternoon arts programme on LBC. He is a brilliant speechmaker and raconteur and has a brilliant and much underestimated brain. Those who see him through the prism of TVam woolly jumpers miss out on a lot. What he doesn't know about the theatre and entertainment world isn't worth knowing. He is an accomplished novelist and writer and his in depth interviews for the Sunday Telegraph were uniquely brilliant. I was so impressed with them that I published them in a book called BRIEF ENCOUNTERS: MEETINGS WITH REMARKABLE PEOPLE. It was a very good seller.

Gyles's diaries are seeringly honest, very indiscreet and sometimes you gasp at the audacity of the things he says. Mo Mowlam is a particular target. The word which threads the entries together is fame - Brandreth is fascinated by it. And his anecdotes about the rich and famous make for hugely entertaining reading. Few people in this world have lived such a varied life - businessman, teddy bear museum owner, novelist, royal biographer, actor, professional speechmaker, politician, musical writer and performer - the list seems endless. He could be accused of having the attention span of a gnat (rather like me...) or a Jack of all trades. But the thing about Gyles is that he has mastered them all.

It's a shame Gyles seems now lost to the world of Conservative politics. He would make a brilliant member of the House of Lords - his knowledge of the arts is unrivalled. If it happens, I shall claim full credit!

Buy the book HERE.


Newmania said...

Goody I was given it as a prezzie , thus far Peace Kills (PJ O Rourke )The Trouble With Islam (Irshad Manji) and Liberal Fascism have claimed my attention

Dave said...


Anonymous said...

Breaking the Code is a sensational book for both style and content. Brandreth's novel (if there's more than one, I don't care to be informed) featuring Oscar Wilde as a detective is utter sh*te in terms of both style and plot. He has definitely not 'mastered them all.'

raincoaster said...

Isn't that the guy who commissioned a set of garden gnomes which are caricatures of the Royal Family? I bet that's a great book.

Dave H said...

For those that haven't read it, here's a plot summary for Breaking the Code:

Name drop. Name drop. Name drop. Why I am so sublimely wise, witty and wonderful. Name drop. Social climb. Name drop. Name drop. Public service? Ha! Give me untrammelled personal advancement instead. Where's my mirror? Good: still gorgeous. Name drop. Name drop. Name drop.

Did I mention with whom I just had dinner?