Thursday, 11 January 2018

Anatomy of a Scandal by Sarah Vaughan - Review

I was really looking forward to reading this - while I didn't know a great deal about it, what I did know sounded right up my street. I do love a good courtroom drama, and if there's a current political angle, so much the better. All of that is certainly there, but we also have a nuanced portrait of a marriage and a thoughtful depiction of thorny issues of rape and consent.

In the present day, we follow dedicated barrister Kate, prosecuting sexual offenders but feeling increasingly frustrated at the difficulty in gaining convictions. Meanwhile, there's Conservative junior minister James Whitehouse, handsome, charming and tipped for success -  a close personal friend of the Prime Minister (who's called "Tom" but is hard not to picture as David Cameron). Then there's James's adoring wife Sophie, in some ways a typical Tory wife but with much more depth in her portrayal than that might imply.

In a further strand, intelligent but under-confident Holly starts at Oxford in 1993, fresh from her Liverpool state school and feeling out of place among the mainly privately educated students who have no conception of life outside their privileged bubble. Among the most privileged of all is James, who belongs to a group of equally arrogant, entitled and frankly obnoxious young men called the Libertines: a not even thinly disguised Bullingdon Club, even down to that notorious photograph on the steps. And while thankfully no pigs are involved, what they do get up to is no great improvement.

As the strands intertwine and sometimes collide, this is a fascinating, enthralling and often thought-provoking read.

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