Jenni Ogden's Reviews > Open Secret: The Autobiography of the Former Director-General of MI5

Open Secret by Stella Rimington
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May 20, 12

bookshelves: biography-memoir
Read from April 18 to May 08, 2012

I struggled to get through this autobiography, but persisted because I was booked in to hear the author in person at the Auckland Writers' and Readers' Festival. The story of her life as the first woman Director-General of the MI5 was written in a very matter-of-fact style, recounting her life in chronological sequence. It included her private life (marriage and divorce and the issues she faced bringing up two daughters alone when her job status had to remain a secret) but these aspects as well were recounted in a rather dry, emotionless way. If the reader forgets the writing style and concentrates on the content it is clear that her life story is remarkable, and a case of fact being stranger than fiction. It is a shame that the tension and emotional turmoil she must surely have experienced did not come through. The book had to be vetted by the MI5 before publication to ensure she didn't let out any security secrets but this was not the problem with the style.

Now retired, Dame Rimington writes thrillers which I have yet to read but from all accounts they are a much faster read than her autobiography! In stark contrast to her autobiography writing style, as a Festival speaker she was warm, engaging, informative and amusing!
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Annette Massie Thanks for this review, as I'm currently struggling through this book. I will now persist!


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