Sarah Brown, wife of the ex prime minister Gordon, has spoken of her frustrations that her husband was "misunderstood".
Ahead of the publication of her memoirs on life at 10 Downing Street, she said Mr Brown's public image was misrepresented.
Speaking to the Daily Mail, she said it did not match the "hard-working, fun, smart, decent man" she married.
She also said that at times her life in Number 10 had been "surreal".
The mother-of-two described one moment when President Karzai of Afghanistan pointed out to her son Fraser that his Lego men looked like Afghans.
She said Fraser's response was to bash them together and shout: "Kill, kill, kill… dead."
There was also the time when she saw Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi ask Naomi Campbell for her phone number, and when pop singer Lily Allen curtseyed to her.
She also tells of her frustration at being unable to buy groceries online, as it was assumed because of the address she gave that her order was a hoax.
'Episodes of exhaustion'
Mrs Brown admits there were times when being the wife of the prime minister took its toll.
She describes three fainting fits in the book, which she dubs "little episodes of exhaustion", and even needed to be treated with oxygen after one.
"I was as guilty as anyone of taking on too much. There were days, especially when there had been a lot of foreign travel, when I had to say to the people around me 'Look, I need to take a few days to see the kids'."
Mrs Brown said that her husband would never have dreamed of walking away from politics, even when their daughter Jennifer died in 2002, at just 10 days old.
Despite the "long, never-ending tunnel of grief" she entered, she could not have asked her husband to give up his job.
"I met him as a politician. He is immersed in politics and in public service.
"He's still working as an MP - he's still engaged with the international world, making a real difference. Gordon would never walk away."
Mrs Brown said she was inspired to call her husband a "hero" at the Labour Party Conference in 2009 after watching Hillary Clinton praise Barack Obama in a speech.
"I liked the idea of someone speaking up for someone else - and realised that I'd been carving out a role for myself that involved speaking up for charities and causes, so why not my own husband?"
"When things were going wrong, and I was reading stories about him that simply were not true, I wonder whether I should have got more involved - to say: 'This is just not the case'," she said.
"When I look back on it, maybe the one thing I would have changed about my role is that I would have spoken up more.
"It wasn't fair. It wasn't right. Yet when you are in that moment, you think you have no alternative but to take it. It is the most frustrating position to be in."
Life after Downing Street is a happy one for her husband however, Mrs Brown said.
"He's happy, he's engaged with his work, he's hands-on with the kids - as he always was, despite everything.
"A lot has happened, but I don't think Gordon has changed as a person."