New culture secretary Nadine Dorries has written a load of books. The reviews are…not great

She’s made over £100k off these in the last year though, fair play gal

Boris Johnson’s cabinet reshuffle was dramatic, with ministerial bloodshed and unexpected promotions. Rising from the dust was a surprise victor: Nadine Dorries is now culture secretary.

The portrait of her doing the rounds is one of a self-confessed “quite UKIP-y” fountain of bad takes. Such is her reputation for lamenting how “leftwing snowflakes” are dumbing down panto, and her former opposition to gay marriage, that one Tory MP reacted to the news of her appointment by telling the FT: “Nadine bleeding Dorries. Was whoever decided that on LSD at the time?”

But there’s another side to Dorries – best-selling author of books you could happily give an aunt for Christmas. She makes dumb bank from it too – since September 2020 she’s made over £125,00 as an author.

The register of interests also reveals she employs her daughter as a parliamentary assistant, but that’s by the by.

Most authors, it should be said, don’t make this much money. But Dorries, by writing absolute mum-on-the-beach fare, made to be sold in The Works, has cracked it.

The books have titles like The Velvet Ribbon, Christmas Angels, and The Four Streets, with covers to match.

Much of Dorries’ oeuvre draws on her experience of growing up on a Liverpool council estate.

The Four Streets was her debut novel, published in 2014,  It’s a tale of Catholics in 1950s Liverpool, and features deaths in childbirth, abortions, and parables on reproduction rights.

The New Statesman savagely concluded that Dorries “is just not very good at making things up”.

Reviewer Sarah Ditum tore into it for trying to be a ham-Irish Trainspotting, written with lines like ” Jaysus, would yer so believe it not?” and, “That’ll be grand for the boxty bread.”

“Things in the novel appear to happen purely because they seem like a good idea at the time to the author,” the review continues, and concludes: “Jaysus, Mary and Joseph, feck this shite.”

In fact, the vernacular was so mocked that the Telegraph ran a quiz asking readers: Who said what? Nadine Dorries or Father Ted.

The Telegraph also called it a “misery novel” which was “told in vacuous language”. For reviewer Christopher Howse, The Four Streets was “the worst novel I’ve read in 10 years.”

Still, it sold well over 100,000 copies soon after release.

And her novels do have a dedicated fanbase. Later work Velvet Ribbon did well on Goodreads. One reviewer said it was one of the best novels they have read. Take that, Telegraph snob Christopher Howse. But then again, this is Goodreads, where I’ve never given a book below a three-star rating.

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