Anatomy of a Scandal – Sarah Vaughan
Release Date: January 2018
Synopsis: Sophie’s husband James is a loving father, a handsome man, a charismatic and successful public figure. And 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 rip them apart.
Kate is the lawyer hired to prosecute the case: an experienced professional who knows that the law is all about winning the argument. And yet Kate seeks the truth at all times. She is certain James is guilty and is determined he will pay for his crimes.
Who is right about James? Sophie or Kate? And is either of them informed by anything more than instinct and personal experience? Despite her privileged upbringing, Sophie is well aware that her beautiful life is not inviolable. She has known it since she and James were first lovers, at Oxford, and she witnessed how easily pleasure could tip into tragedy.
Most people would prefer not to try to understand what passes between a man and a woman when they are alone: alone in bed, alone in an embrace, alone in an elevator… Or alone in the moonlit courtyard of an Oxford college, where a girl once stood before a boy, heart pounding with excitement, then fear. Sophie never understood why her tutorial partner Holly left Oxford so abruptly. What would she think, if she knew the truth?
Review: I started hearing rumblings about this book nearly a year before it came out. I had no real idea what the plot was about or what any of the main points were. All I knew is that everyone who read this book was very impressed and recommended it highly. I was super excited when I won an advance copy through an online giveaway (I believe it was on Goodreads). Like so many others, I was obsessed with Anatomy of a Scandal. And for good reason.
Anatomy of a Scandal centers around a high-profile court case. The trial at the heart of this book is a sexual assault perpetrated by a well known, trusted MP (Member of Parliament) that takes place in the Houses of Parliament. Vaughan paints the attack as a gray scenario that, at points, almost made me go wishy-washy on how I felt about the case. This is not a comfortable book. It makes you question your own beliefs and examine how you quantify rape and assault.
I think what I appreciated the most about the novel was that it wasn’t gratuitous or sensationalist, despite the twist towards the end. The assaults, there are more than one, aren’t sensationalist or particularly detailed or vulgar. Conversely, Vaughan’s scene setting and character development are so in-depth and descriptive that you feel as if you’ve walked those roped off passages in Parliament.
Anatomy of a Scandal is so very timely, particularly as stories of Spacey, Weinstein and others have hit mainstream media and the #metoo movement has spanned worldwide. I highly recommend it.