Anatomy of a Scandal by Sara Vaughan

Anatomy of a Scandal by Sara Vaughan Anatomy of a Scandal by Sarah Vaughan
Narrator: Julie Teal, Luke Thompson, Esther Wane, Sarah Feathers
on January 23, 2018
Source: Library
Genres: Legal Thriller
Length: 10 hrs 55 mins
Format: Audiobook
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three-half-stars

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?

Anatomy of a Scandal is a very timely courtroom drama. Just a warning, there is going to be a minor spoiler here. I don’t think I can help it.

Handsome, charming James, a Junior Home Office Minister, is accused of rape by an ex-lover. Sophie is his wife who believes, at least at first,  that he could never have done such a heinous thing. Kate is the lawyer determined to prove him guilty beyond a shadow of a doubt- and she doesn’t have any doubt.

The story flowed well. It’s not a nail-biting thriller, but it’s tense and emotion-filled. We see James and Sophie in their college days, along with their friends. We know what they were like then and who they became. We learn that some things change, and others don’t.

It’s a story that sucks you in, but I’m not sure I really enjoyed it. First, there’s never any doubt for the reader about James guilt, just whether the jury will believe him or not. He’s a loving father, a loyal friend, but not a “good guy”.  So, while in theory the book circles around the idea of consent, of he says/she says, of no one knows what happens behind closed doors, really we do know. None of the main characters was likeable to me. James, obviously, is manipulative and egotistical. Sophie was self-absorbed as a young adult and even though she knows James’ secrets, and there’s at least one biggie, she still deludes herself into believing him and then, when she knows the truth, she stays. Kate has her own back story, which does lend an interesting twist to her prosecution, but she is at the very least acting unethically. I’ll grant you, I understand her reasons, but I still can’t quite sympathize with her.

Sex, power, and scandal are always attention-grabbing, in fiction and real-life. It’s a good book for discussion, I think. It mirrors events that happen every day, on college campuses, in offices, in everyday life, but shouldn’t.

About Sarah Vaughan

Sarah Vaughan

Sarah Vaughan read English at Oxford and went on to be a journalist. After training with the Press Association, she worked for The Guardian for 11 years as a news reporter, health correspondent and political correspondent before leaving to freelance. She started writing fiction the week she turned forty. She lives in Cambridge with her husband and two children.

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