Monday 22 January 2018

Book review : Anatomy of a Scandal - Sarah Vaughan

Sarah Vaughan's Anatomy of a Scandal is a gripping courtroom drama that focuses on three women and one man who links them all : James Whitehouse. From privileged public schoolboy and Oxford graduate (where he was firm friends with the future prime minister) to a well-paid and prestigious job as a Home Office minister, he is the golden boy with big plans but also a big ego and a big sense of entitlement.

Sophie, his wife, is content with her lot : an attractive, well-respected husband, two lovely kids and a plush Kensington pad. But her world is about to fall apart.

Olivia Lytton, one of James' work colleagues, has just gone to the papers with news of their passionate extra-marital affair. He's not denying it. With friends in high places, they weather the storm. Then she claims he raped her - will he deny that too?

 Kate is the ballsy, driven but secretly vulnerable barrister who is convinced that James is guilty and is determined to win the case. But she has a secret past that could put the whole case, and indeed her entire legal career, in jeopardy.

Having grown up through the eighties and nineties, I can remember the "scorned women" and the "bits on the side" being belittled and not taken seriously when these kinds of cases came to court - Bill Clinton and Monica Lewinsky, Hugh Grant and Divine Brown, even Charles and Camilla ... The message seemed to be that boys would be boys and it wasn't all that serious. These days, you can't turn on the news or open a newspaper without seeing news of historic sex abuse accusations and #metoo. The tide has definitely turned.

But Sarah Vaughan cleverly blurs the boundaries, leaving enough doubt for the reader to wonder about how much is truth and how much is exaggeration. James is adamant that he has done nothing wrong, but as he thinks he always knows best, would he admit (or even register) guilt anyway? Olivia is convincing in her testimony but she had just been dumped by him, so is she out for revenge? And just why is Kate so intent on getting a conviction?

It's an interesting read that will keep you guessing right up until the end, questioning the attitudes of the interested parties and the jurors, as well as your own judgements and those of society as a whole, both now and a few decades ago. It would be a great choice for book clubs to discuss at length, as I'm sure opinions will be divided.

star rating : 4.5/5

RRP : £12.99 (I've just noticed that it's a bargaintastic £4.99 on amazon at the moment which is a great price for a hardback book)

  • Hardcover: 400 pages
  • Publisher: Simon & Schuster UK (11 Jan. 2018)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1471164993
  • ISBN-13: 978-1471164996
  • Product Dimensions: 15.3 x 2.9 x 23.4 cm

Disclosure : I received a review copy of the book.

1 comment:

  1. I love gritty stories like this, scandalous and gripping at the same time, il have to keep an eye out for this xxx


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