Anatomy of a Scandal by Sarah Vaughan
Publisher: Simon & Schuster
Publishing Date: 11th January 2018
Source: Received from publisher in return for an honest review, thank you!
Number of pages: 400
Genre: General Fiction (Adult), Suspense
You want to believe your husband. She wants to destroy him.
Gripping psychological drama for fans of Apple Tree Yard, The Good Wife and Notes on a Scandal.
Anatomy of a Scandal centres on a high-profile marriage that begins to unravel when the husband is accused of a terrible crime. Sophie is sure her husband, James, is innocent and desperately hopes to protect her precious family from the lies which might ruin them. Kate is the barrister who will prosecute the case – she is equally certain that James is guilty and determined he will pay for his crimes.
A high-profile marriage thrust into the spotlight. A wife, determined to keep her family safe, must face a prosecutor who believes justice has been a long time coming. A scandal that will rock Westminster. And the women caught at the heart of it.
“Anatomy of a Scandal” by Sarah Vaughan is probably one of the most anticipated books this year and guys, there is a reason why. I personally have never read such a book before – such authentic, genuine and realistic, and so unique. It was incredibly addictive and – probably because of the fact that it’s about things that is really hard to read about – written with subtlety and without judging. There is a great depth to it, it’s written with an insight and it seems so meticulously researched, and as a result we get a hooking and gripping novel about who’s telling the truth.
It is a story with a slow pace, yet I found myself galloping through the pages and holding my breath. I absolutely, totally loved how the author, so skilfully and perfectly well knowing when she should do this, added new twist, turn and information that only messed with our minds or allowed us this brilliant moments when you feel like a fog would be disappearing and you’d think ow, yes! It was amazing, guys, how Sarah Vaughan messed with me and my mind.
The characters are full of flaws. They lie and keep secrets. James Whitehouse is wealthy and everything works for him in his life. He has a picture perfect family and a political career. He studied at Oxford and was a part of the rowing team. He was a member of a group called the Libertines – people, especially men, behaving without morals, without principles, without responsibility, getting what they want, no matter what it is, especially in sexual matters. Without consequences. And so he wanders through his life, now shared with Sophie and two children. And well, with some other woman that he can get in bed as well. Sophie, a wonderful wife for such a man like James. I wasn’t sure if she really doesn’t see thing or she doesn’t want to see them. Kate Woodcroft, the barrister, and as the story weaves back and forth in time we get to know her background and learn about her past and the baggage that she’s carrying. Thanks to their faults, and all those emotions and details they are all brought to life and feel like real people.
I couldn’t believe how clichéd James’ character was: tall, good – looking, charismatic, having everyone eating from his hands, a Junior Minister in the House of commons to add to this, and how clichéd his actions were! Sounds somehow familiar, right? Unbelievable, I was all the time hoping that he’s going to turn out a decent man – but I’m not going to tell you if it happened or not, oh no!
She has also brilliantly brought to life Kate Woodcroft, the barrister who is assigned to the case of James Whitehouse, involving violence of a sexual nature. The descriptions of Kate’s feelings and how hard it was for her were like unsheathing her soul, so true and realistic they were.
There were moments that I was thinking that bringing a perspective of Olivia Lytton, the parliamentary researcher who worked in James’ office and who accused him, would help, that having Olivia’s personal point of view would bring the clarity to the case, but guys, no. It isn’t necessary, and really, there came a moment that I started to understand everything very, very clearly.
But the story not only weaves through time, it also brings perspectives of different characters, which leads to so many new revelations! Everything becomes more clear when we see how those different narrators involved play by different rules and to different gates – just like in real life, when you can save yourself there are no morals. Sarah Vaughan gets into all her characters’ heads, exploring their feelings and emotions, guilt and arrogance.
What deserves a standing ovation is the fact how well Sarah Vaughan played her cards and wrote a story without a judgement. I personally was out for blood – and believe me, dear readers, I am a very peaceful person – and yet the author, and don’t take me wrong here because it’s brilliant that she’s done it this way, has totally with cold blood written a story about one of the worst crimes that could happen to any woman without one word of judgement, leaving this in our own hands.
This is brilliantly complex story letting us to decide who is presenting a true face, who is honest and who’s not and what has really happened. The dialogues during the trial were like watching a particularly thrilling tennis match, with our heads turning left and right, when we couldn’t wait for the other side to add something, to mention the unmentionable – this is the best part of the book, I think. It was incredibly clever courtroom drama, full of intrigue and past secrets, full of surprising reveals and suspenseful. And also, so incredibly timely… Highly, highly recommend!