One of Us

One of Us

One of Us

2008

How would Antigone fare in a New Labour milieu? One of Us is a subtle and poignant novel about the dangerous space between private and public lives, about kingmakers and power, by a writer who should know…

The narrative opens in March 2003. A leading journalist and a forty-two-year-old woman meet at a dingy London cafe in the immediate aftermath of the invasion of Iraq.Anna Adams has a story she is burning to tell, one that goes right to the top of the Cabinet. Her middle brother Jack, the black sheep of the family, has committed a shocking, violent act that the authorities have tried to cover up, and Anna is determined both to defend and celebrate him, at all costs. Anna’s tale takes us on a journey to the heart of British politics and through the lives of two families, over thirty years. It charts the rise of Andy Givings, ambitious, ruthless New Labour star; of Matt Adams, Anna’s elder brother and Andy’s closest aide; and Christopher Mason, the charming left-leaning solicitor whom Anna marries. But it is also the story of Anna herself, loyal daughter, wife and sister. As the story unfolds and her marriage begins to crumble, Anna finds herself at the mercy of events, emotions and the most vicious form of blackmail.

One of Us is a gripping story of love and betrayal, giving unparallelled insights into the conflicts that arise when vaulting ambition clashes with private values and family life

“Melissa Benn grippingly describes struggles for love and success within powerful families – and political life. Her clear eye and telling detail slowly draws you in deeper and deeper and makes you believe in – and care about – both victors and victims.”
– Maggie Gee

“Her insider’s eye makes Benn’s story grip like a thriller but with an added poignancy that carries the reader right to the private heart of public life.”
Gillian Slovo

“Extraordinary… an emotional and political tour de force.”
– The Independent on Sunday

“The final chapters are so gripping you won’t be able to put it down”
– Tatler

“Benn is wonderful on the telling details of family life… Benn has succeeded in bringing the ancient themes of Sophocles up to date with a keen eye, a subtle intelligence, and an unwavering decency”
– The Guardian

“Benn’s compassionate and indignant observations on the price paid by women and children involved in a male politician’s rise are fascinating – a glimpse of an enduring human tragedy”
– Daily Telegraph

“Iraq has just been invaded and Anna Adams’ misfit brother Jack has done something shocking, whilst her eldest brother Matt, special adviser to the government, has the unpleasant task of trying to bury it. Part political drama, part family saga, Benn, herself a member of a political dynasty, blends the two elements together expertly, while her precisely drawn characters suck you in. When Anna’s relationship begins slowly to disintegrate, you will find it almost impossible not to ache at the situation she finds herself in.”
– Psychologies

“Congratulations to Melissa Benn … what she does brilliantly is close-up Austen-style observation of social life, describing the hardline political arguments in fine houses over very expensive cheeses.”
– The Times

“A rare bird indeed. Benn evokes the acrid whiff of power, and its drift into the “web of family”, with chilling precision.. Benn strikingly shows us the flesh, blood – and fear.”
– The Independent

“One novel that stands out for me is Melissa Benn’s ‘One of Us,’ just out in England from Chatto & Windus. She’s Tony Benn’s daughter, and it’s an insider look at politics and power, but it’s a rich and heart-breaking novel in its own right. I can’t get it out of my mind.”
– Sara Paretsky