Jane Ridley

The Margot and Henry show

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Colin Clifford

John Murray, pp. 528, £

The publicity material likens this book to The Forsyte Saga, but in fact it's far more gripping than fiction: the true story of a larger-than-life political dynasty. The diaries of Margot Asquith form the core of the book. For too long Margot's voluminous diaries have been unavailable, and Colin Clifford is the first biographer to gain unrestricted access. He has put them to excellent use.

Daughter of the fabulously rich Sir Charles Tennant ('the Bart'), Margot took London by storm with her energy and outrageous wit. Her diaries reveal a less attractive side. She emerges as self-obsessed, with an irritating habit of detailing pert exchanges with the great and the good in which she always comes out best. She was also a crashing snob (which was somewhat rich, coming from the granddaughter of a Glasgow handloom weaver). Hysterically opposed to women's suffrage, she attacked the suffragettes as 'wombless, vicious, cruel women'. Women, she thought, had 'no intellect but only instinct