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Summary

A unique portrait of life behind-the-scenes at Downing Street - from David Cameron’s most high-profile female advisor.

Life at the Heart of Power is a very personal portrait of life as a woman at the centre of power. As Brexit discussions rail on, Fall offers an intimate account of the preceding seminal political years from the viewpoint of the ‘staffer’ rather than the more traditional memoirs of the ‘principals’- David Cameron and George Osborne, whom she worked alongside.

Fall takes us through 11 years of the Cameron project. From its inception and battle to win the soul of the Conservative party, through to life at No 10 during the coalition years. Reshuffles, relationships, routines, political scandals, births, deaths and the crises in between. Through two general elections and the surprise ‘sweetest of victories’ in 2015. Through two referendums, and finally to the third - the European referendum, and to the last days of the Cameron administration.

There is always the principal’s account - and then another which sheds the light on an era in politics - and brings it to life. Fall’s audiobook offers a different perspective - not just on the Cameron years but on life at the centre. About how it feels to be part of a dedicated, focused team all working to one aim. To live one’s life at such a pace under so much pressure, much of it so private, yet under the public gaze. To go home to your children and walk round the park. And for all this to be ‘normal’, for a while.

©2019 Kate Fall (P)2019 HarperCollins Publishers Limited

Critic reviews

"This book is as good an account of life inside Number 10 as I have ever read. Kate Fall has an exquisite eye for telling detail and a rare ability to express it. The tale gives an intimate and honest account of some of the most important and challenging years in recent history." (Sir Anthony Seldon, Historian, Vice Chancellor)

"For over a decade Kate Fall was the most influential woman in British politics - as David Cameron’s closest adviser and gatekeeper. This is her fascinating, honest and sometimes hilarious story of life behind the door of number 10.’ (Alice Thomson, Columnist, The Times)

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Not what I expected.

I was expecting a bit of a no holds barred, warts and all story of what happened behind the black door. What I got was a book that gushes about Cameron and how wonderful he is.

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Very disappointing

Bland and lacking any real depth. This is a real disappointment - I was hoping it would give a real insight into the workings of parliament but instead it is just a superficial glorification of Cameron. Its also told in a rather boring narrative.

1 person found this helpful

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Good behind-the-scenes account

I love real-life political accounts, so I enjoyed this. It feels real and covered a lot of ground - coalition government, Brexit, all sorts of horrors. The author conveys the sense of action, dread and exhaustion and you get a pretty rounded sense of David Cameron. Some of the statements - eg about austerity - feel tin-eared, but that didn't surprise me. It's a personal account and these are her personal reactions. Definitely worth a read if you're into fly-on-the-wall stuff. It could obviously have included a ton more anecdotes, but never mind.

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Loved it!

Great pace, devoured quickly! Great look back at times that seem much easier. Loved the style

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Not recommended

There is something about this audiobook that is both patronising and smug. The combination of the content and delivery removed all impetus to carry on and I had to abandon it at fairly early stage.

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Enjoyed the story.

I enjoyed the build up to the referendum part most of all. Well worth reading.

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Fabulous insight

Fascinating book. Personal, heartfelt, a truly unique insight into the world of politics. Loved it!

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A real insight to Cameron's government

It's great to see what happened from the inside of government and how decisions were taken. I also enjoyed learning about the personalities of politicians.

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Toothless and Out of Touch

I was hoping for an incisive journey into the successes and failings of the Cameron governments. However the attributes which make Fall undoubtedly a pleasant person and political ally make her a poor political memoirist. This book only highlighted (unintentionally) how out of touch team Cameron was and how crucial this ingredient was in their downfall. Fall clearly knows more than she is letting on: where all the skeletons are buried but seems to have no insight into either the failings of her colleagues (with the exception of Michael Gove whom receives books only real tongue lashing) or why the Cameron Government fell from number 10 as dramatically as it did. It seems these people are glibly unaware of the privilege that has been shovelled their way one of the lines that indicates how out of touch team Cameron was is surmised nicely in this quote: ‘Most people go on about our cabinet having met at Oxford University when really we met at the Conservative research department’

 - Kate, this does not prove your point it only highlights how out of touch with the country Cameron government were. When undoubtedly the end comes they act dumbfounded as to what has happened to them. The Insight into the workings of the coalition were both interesting and informative but found Fall’s defences of both David Cameron and Andy Coulson both gushing and unconscionable. All Out War provides a much clearer more nuanced take on the fall of the Cameron government, bit of a shame I thought premise of this book had great potential.

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A remarkable insight in to life inside No. 10

For anyone interested in politics and the lives our politicians live this book offers a remarkable insight in to what goes on behind that famous black door. The author's tale is both riveting and insightful but slightly dispiriting in that it reveals the terrible personal toll a life in politics has on an individual. I wonder if those at the sharp end of our print and broadcast media stop to take stock of their role in the collateral damage their trade wreaks on the poor saps who go in to politics - even if they do so with their eyes wide open and in the full knowledge of what they are getting in to.