Simon and Schuster January 2018
Sophie’s husband, James, is a loving father and a successful public figure. Yet he stands accused of a terrible crime. Sophie is convinced he is innocent and desperate to protect her precious family from the lies that threaten to engulf him. She’s kept his darkest secret ever since they were first lovers, at Oxford. And if she stood by him then, she can do it now.
Kate is the barrister prosecuting his case. She’s certain that James is guilty and determined he should pay. No stranger to suffering herself, she doesn’t flinch from posing the questions few want to hear. About what happens between a man and a woman when they’re alone: alone in bed, alone in an embrace, alone in a lift…
Is James the victim of an unfortunate misunderstanding or the perpetrator of something sinister? Who is right: Sophie or Kate? This scandal – which forces Sophie to appraise her marriage and Kate her demons – will have far-reaching consequences for them all.
Part courtroom drama; part a portrait of a marriage; part an exploration of the extent to which our memories still haunt us, Anatomy of a Scandal is a disarming and provocative psychological thriller.
A very ‘of the time’ piece of fiction, in line with the #metoo voices and the recent tide of sex scandals to sweep across Westminster. Told in the third person narrative from several points of view including Kate, James and Sophie as well as others, which I will not reveal here for fear of spoilers. A story well written, but not a comfortable read by any means and if I’m honest I was left feeling a bit mixed in terms of some of the outcomes.
This is a book review of course, so while I don’t won’t to go too far off track, I was lucky enough to hear the author Sarah Vaughan speak recently at a Book Festival. Her talk was enlightening, drawing from her own experiences at Oxford, of the White Male Entitlement prevalent in the upper classes, the certainty in some (mostly male) of being right, even when wrong… the privilege and protection of money and education – wealth. The private clubs, elitist and secretive, a rights of passage, a fraternity that somehow sanctions bad behaviour. And of course #metoo and the astonishing fact that when women reflect on it most can identify many incidents of unwanted attention, including touching due to being female. This book explores many of these issues in an engaging way, and given its theme ( and not a spoiler I don’t think as most know lots about this book) this book explores consent.
Interestingly earlier this month I reviewed A False Report – A True Story of Rape in America (review here) which talks in some detail about a true case of a serial rapist, but essentially one woman not being believed – not acting like a rape victim should. This book – Anatomy of A Scandal details the trial following a high profile ( fictional ) accusation of rape and crucially explores the positions of 2 key women – the wife and the barrister. Both have ‘agendas’ bought about by their own circumstances and while at times I found myself struggling with the position of Sophie — the wife, I was most impressed with how the author had developed this character, with a real appreciation of the challenges faced when the father of ones children is accused of such a crime.
Overall a very decent read, deserving of its success since publication earlier this year. Thought provoking and somewhat depressing when thinking about James and his peers, but to find out more about that you must read it for yourself… or have you read this book? Tell me in the comments, what did you think?
Thanks as always for reading.