Anatomy of a Scandal: Book summary and reviews of Anatomy of a Scandal by Sarah Vaughan

Anatomy of a Scandal

by Sarah Vaughan

Anatomy of a Scandal by Sarah Vaughan X
Anatomy of a Scandal by Sarah Vaughan
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  • Published in USA  Jan 2018
    400 pages
    Genre: Thrillers

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Book Summary

An astonishingly incisive and suspenseful novel about a scandal amongst Britain's privileged elite and the women caught up in its wake.

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?

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Reviews

Media Reviews

"Starred Review. Vaughan, a former political correspondent, offers gripping insight into a political scandal's hidden machinations and the tension between justice and privilege…Absorbing, polished." - Booklist

"Starred Review. A strong choice for book clubs. Former political correspondent Vaughan makes an impressive debut with this savvy, propulsive courtroom drama." - Kirkus

"Starred Review. Such is the strength of this sinewy novel from Vaughan (The Farm at the Edge of the World) that the glossy, tabloid-ready surface proves one of the less interesting facets of the engrossing, twist-filled tale that unspools." - Publishers Weekly

"Anatomy of a Scandal is a compelling and cautionary story about how we can never truly know someone else; how even after twelve years of marriage, a wife might not know everything about her husband. Brilliant, shocking, and gripping, once I started, I couldn't stop reading." - Claire Fuller, award-winning author of Our Endless Numbered Days and Swimming Lessons

"Shocking. Compelling. Completely brilliant." - Eve Chase, bestselling author of Black Rabbit Hall

"I was hooked right from the start. So beautifully written, clever and compelling. I was gripped right up to the final page." - Claire Douglas, bestselling author of The Sisters and Local Girl Missing

"I enjoyed Anatomy of a Scandal immensely – a very elegant dissection of a very messy affair. Loved it." - Louise Candlish, author of The Swimming Pool

"Anatomy of a Scandal is a stunningly compelling read - utterly gripping from the first page, beautifully written and expertly plotted." - Sarah J. Harris, author of The Color Of Bee Larkham's Murderer

"Anatomy of a Scandal is superb. Bitingly truthful, intelligent, gripping. All round class act." - Gilly Macmillan, New York Times bestselling author of What She Knew

"Suspenseful and shocking, centered around an important moral issue that makes it especially intense, Anatomy of a Scandal is a nuanced, highly addictive read that resonates long after the final word." - Kimberly Belle, New York Times bestselling author of The Marriage Lie

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Reader Reviews

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lani

legal thriller
Brilliant...brilliant...brilliant...A wonderful courtroom drama set in England that was not only erudite but very suspenseful in terms of courtroom logistics. Reading it I felt I was involved in a real court room drama and was holding my breath for the final verdict. There are many words peculiar to the British language but it was easy to decipher their meaning from the overall context.
The story begins with the elucidation of the stories behind James, a sauve British minister, his adoring wife Sophie, whom he met in college and Kate, the lawyer who was hired to prosecute a rape case against James. Told mostly in alternating chapters between Kate and Sophie, we peer back into their college days when they all attended the same college and then to the present day. Questions arise as to who is the most truthful, and the power of the barrister 's persuasive abilities to influence the final outcome of the jury. Does truth really matter? Ethics play into the role as well, as well as individual responsibility to ferret out the truth in spite of moral dilemmas. I truly loved this book and will recommend this to anyone who is looking for a terrifically written and satisfying book.

Betty Taylor

Timely Story of Politics and Sexual Scandals
This book is definitely being released at the right time – when it seems that every day brings new headlines of the latest sexual harassment accusations against politicians. Years of sweeping it all under the rug are coming to an end.

James Whitehead, a member of the British parliament and confidant of the Prime Minister, confesses to his wife of his affair. Just as it seems the media has tired of him, his ex-mistress accuses him of rape. His wife Sophie is, of course, embarrassed by it all but stands by her husband. He insists that all sex with Olivia, his ex-mistress, was consensual. Sophie is determined to keep her family together and protect their children from the negative publicity.

The story is what I would call a “slow burn”. It slowly builds, going back to James’ college days and chapter by chapter revealing who James Whitehouse really is. (Hmmm, interesting choice of surname – Whitehouse.) We are taken back to when James and Sophie first met at college and began dating. A young freshman named Holly Berry will unknowingly come to hold their fates in her hands.

Some readers will not care for the slow pace. I didn’t at first but then came to realize the strength of holding back and only revealing a bit at a time. The story does not depend upon a major twist at the end that no one saw coming. I love those and lots of books came out in 2017 with exactly that. “Anatomy of a Scandal” instead reveals its big secret to the reader before the story is even halfway through. The prosecutor has a secret that only the reader knows, and that secret becomes the driving force behind the entire story. Vaughan was masterful in how she manipulates her characters (and us) as she somewhat teases us – will the truth come out now? No, okay, how about now? One must always be mindful of long-held secrets – secrets that can bring down a “house of cards” when played right.

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More Information

More Information

Sarah Vaughan read English at Oxford and went on to become a journalist. She spent eleven years at the Guardian as a news reporter, health correspondent, and political correspondent. She left to freelance and began writing fiction the week she turned forty. Her debut novel, The Art of Baking Blind, was the result. The Farm at the Edge of the World was published in June 2016 and will be published in Germany and France. Sarah lives in Cambridge with her husband and two children.

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