Anatomy of a Scandal

Anatomy of a Scandal

by Sarah Vaughan

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Overview

Anatomy of a Scandal by Sarah Vaughan

Instant International Bestseller

“A nuanced story line perfectly in tune with our #metoo times.”—People, Book of the Week

“One of the season’s most buzzed-about thrillers.”—Bookish

“A strong choice for book clubs. Former political correspondent Vaughan makes an impressive debut with this savvy, propulsive courtroom drama.” —Kirkus Reviews (starred review)

“Vaughan offers gripping insight into a political scandal’s hidden machinations and the tension between justice and privilege...Absorbing, polished.”—Booklist (starred review)

“Skillfully interweaving the story of the unfolding scandal, Vaughan gradually reveals just how shockingly high the stakes are...Sinewy...engrossing, twist-filled.” —Publishers Weekly (starred review)

You want to believe your husband. She wants to destroy him.

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?

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781501172168
Publisher: Atria/Emily Bestler Books
Publication date: 01/23/2018
Pages: 400
Sales rank: 103,010
Product dimensions: 6.40(w) x 8.70(h) x 1.30(d)

About the Author

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, published by Hodder & Stoughton, St. Martin’s Press, and in seven other languages, 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.

Read an Excerpt

Sophie has never thought of her husband as a liar.
     She knows he dissembles, yes. That’s part of his job—a will­ingness to be economical with the truth. A prerequisite, even for a government minister.
     But she has never imagined he would lie to her. Or rather, that he might have a life she knows nothing about: a secret that could detonate beneath her lovingly maintained world and blow it apart forever.
     Watching him that Friday, as he leaves to take the children to school, she feels a stab of love so fierce she pauses on the stairs just to drink in the tableau of the three of them together. They are framed in the doorway, James turning to call good­bye, left arm raised in that politician’s wave she used to mock but which now seems second nature, right hand cradling Finn’s head. Their son—fringe falling in his eyes, socks bagging round his ankles—scuffs at the tiles, reluctant, as ever, to go. His elder sister, Emily, ducks through the doorway: age nine, determined not to be late.

“Well, bye, then,” her husband calls, and the autumn sun catches the top of his still-boyish crop, illuminating him with a halo, highlighting his six-foot-three frame.
     “Bye, Mum,” her daughter shouts, as she runs down the steps.
     “Bye, Mummy.” Finn, thrown by the change to his routine— his father taking them to school for once—juts out his bottom lip and flushes red.
     “Come on, little man.” James steers him through the door: competent, authoritative even, and she almost resents the fact that she still finds this attractive, commanding. Then he smiles down at his boy and his entire face softens. Finn is his weak spot. “You know you’ll enjoy it when you get there.”
     He slips his arm over his son’s shoulders and guides him down their neat, West London garden, with its sculpted bay trees standing like sentinels and its path fringed with lavender, away from her and out down the street.
     My family, she thinks, watching the perfect-looking trio go—her girl racing ahead to embrace the day, all skinny legs and swishing ponytail, her boy slipping his hand into his father’s and looking up at him with that unashamed adoration that comes with being six. The similarity between man and boy—for Finn is a miniaturized version of his father—only magnifies her love. I have a beautiful boy and a beautiful man, she thinks, as she watches James’s broad shoulders—a one-time rower’s shoulders—and waits, more in hope than expectation, for him to look back and smile at her, for she has never managed to grow immune to his charisma.

Of course he doesn’t and she watches as they slip out of sight. The most precious people in her world.

That world crumbles at 8:43 p.m. James is late. She should have known he would be. It is an alternate Friday: one in which he is holding a constituency meeting, deep in the Surrey countryside, in a brightly lit village hall.
     When he had first been elected, they had stayed there every weekend: decamping to a cold, damp cottage that had never quite felt like home, despite their extensive renovations. One election on, and it was a relief to give up the pretense that Thurlsdon was where they wanted to spend half their week. Lovely in the summer months, yes, but bleak in winter, when she would stare out at the bare trees fringing their hamlet garden and try to placate their urban children, who wanted the bustle and distraction of their real, North Kensington home.
     They venture there once a month now, and James schleps down for a meeting in the intervening fortnight. Two hours on a Friday afternoon; he promised to leave by six.
     He has a driver now that he is junior minister and should have been back by seven thirty—traffic permitting. They are supposed to be going to friends’ for a kitchen supper. Well, she says friends. Matt Frisk is another junior minister—aggressively ambitious in a way that doesn’t sit well with their set, where success is understood as inevitable but naked ambition considered vulgar.

But he and Ellie are near neighbors and she couldn’t easily put them off again.
     Sophie had said they would be there by eight fifteen. It was ten past now, so where was he? The October evening crept against the sash windows: black softened by the glow of the street lamps, autumn stealing in. She loves this time of year. It reminds her of fresh starts, running through the leaves in Christ Church Meadows as a fresher, giddy at the thought of new worlds opening up to her. Since having children, it has been a time to nest; to cosset with log fires, roast chestnuts, take brisk, crisp walks, and make game casseroles. But now, the autumn night was taut with apprehension. Footsteps tottered down the pavement and a woman’s laugh rang out, flirtatious. A deeper voice murmured. Not James’s. The footsteps rose and fell, died away.
     She pressed redial. His mobile rang then clicked to voicemail. She jabbed the sleek face of her phone—rattled at her loss of cus­tomary self-control. Dread tightened her stomach and for a mo­ment she was back in the chill lodge of her Oxford college, the wind whistling through the quad, as she waited for the pay phone to ring. The look of sympathy from a college porter. The chill fear—so intense in that last week of her first summer term—that something still more terrible was about to happen. Age nineteen and willing him to call, even then.
     Eight fourteen. She tried again, hating herself for doing it. His phone clicked straight through to voicemail. She plucked at a piece of imaginary lint, rearranged her friendship bracelets, and glanced critically at her nails—neatly filed, unvarnished, unlike Ellie’s gleaming gelled slicks.
     Footsteps on the stairs. A child’s voice. “Is Daddy back?”
     “No, go back to bed.” Her tone came out harsher than she intended.
     Emily stared, one eyebrow raised.
     “Just climb back into bed, sweetheart,” she added, her voice softening as she chased her daughter up the stairs, heart quicken­ing as she turned the corner and bundled her under the covers. “You should be settling down, now. He won’t be long.”
     “Can he come and say goodnight when he gets in?” Emily pouted, impossibly pretty.
     “Well, we’re going out, but if you’re still awake . . .”
     “I will be.” Her daughter’s determination—the set of her jaw, the implacable self-belief—marked her out as her father’s daugh­ter.
     “Then I’m sure he’ll come up.”
     Sophie gave her a quick peck on the forehead, to curb further arguments, and tucked the duvet around her. “I don’t want you out of bed again, though. Understand? Cristina’s babysitting just like normal. I’ll send Daddy up when he gets back.”

Eight seventeen. She forced herself not to ring his number. She has never been the sort of wife who behaves like a stalker, but there was something about this complete silence that chilled her. It just wasn’t like him. She imagined him stuck on the M25, working his way through his papers in the back of his car. He would call, text, send an email, not leave her waiting—the au pair hanging around the kitchen, keen for them to disap­pear so that she can curl up on the sofa and have the house to herself; Sophie’s carefully touched-up face becoming a little less perfect; the flowers bought for the Frisks wilting in their wrap­ping on the table in the hall.

Eight twenty-one. She would call the Frisks at half past. But that deadline came and still she didn’t ring. Eight thirty-five, thirty-six, thirty-seven. Aware that it was bad form to do so, at eight forty she sent Ellie Frisk a brief, apologetic text explain­ing that something had cropped up in the constituency and they were terribly sorry but they wouldn’t be able to make it, after all.
     The Times had a piece on the Islamic State by Will Stanhope but the words of her old college contemporary washed over her. It might as well be a story about dinosaur astronauts, read to Finn, to the extent to which it engaged her. Every part of her was attuned to one thing.
     And there it is. The sound of his key in the door. A scrape and then a hiss as the heavy oak eases open. The sound of his footsteps: slower than normal, not his usual brisk, assertive tread. Then the thud of his red box being put down, the weight of responsibility abandoned for a while—as glorious a sound, on a Friday night, as the slosh of dry white wine being poured from a bottle. The jangle of keys on the hall table. And then silence again.

“James?” She comes into the hall.
     His beautiful face is grey, his smile taut and not reaching his eyes, where his light crow’s feet seemed deeper than usual.
     “You’d better cancel the Frisks.”
     “I have done.”
     He shrugs off his coat and hangs it up carefully, averting his face.
     She pauses then slips her arms around his waist—his honed waist that deepens to form a V, like the trunk of a sapling that burgeons outwards—but he reaches back and gently eases them away.
     “James?” The cold in the pit of her stomach flares.
     “Is Cristina here?”
     “Yes.”
     “Well, send her to her room, will you? We need to talk in private.”
     “Right.” Her heart flutters as she hears her voice come out clipped.
     He gives her another tight smile, and a note of impatience creeps into his voice, as if she is a disobliging child, or perhaps, a tardy civil servant. “Can you do it now, please, Sophie?”
     She stares back at him, not recognizing his mood—so differ­ent to what she had expected.
     He massages his forehead with firm, long fingers, and his green eyes close briefly, the lashes—disarmingly long—kissing his cheeks. Then, his eyes flash open, and the look he gives her is the one Finn gives when he is trying to preempt a telling off and plead forgiveness. It’s the look James gave her twenty-three years ago be­fore confessing to the crisis that had threatened to overwhelm him, that had caused them to split up, that still sometimes causes her to shiver, and that she fears is about to rear its head again.

“I’m sorry, Soph. So sorry.” And it is as if he is carrying not just the weight of his job—undersecretary of state for countering extremism—but responsibility for the entire government.
     “I’ve fucked up big time.”

Her name was Olivia Lytton—though Sophie had always just thought of her as James’s parliamentary researcher—five foot ten, twenty-eight, blonde, well connected, confident, ambitious.
     “I expect she’ll be dubbed the blonde bombshell.” She tries for acerbic, but her voice just comes out as shrill.
     The affair had been going on for five months, and he had broken it off a week ago, just after the party conference.
     “It meant nothing,” James says, head in hands, no pretense that he is anything other than penitent. He leans back, wrinkling his nose as he trots out another cliché. “It was just sex, and I was flattered.”
     She swallows, rage pushing against her chest, barely contain-able. “Well, that’s OK then.”
     His eyes darken as he takes in her pain.
     “There was nothing wrong with that part of us. You know that.” He can usually read her so clearly: a skill honed over two decades, one of the things that binds them so closely. “I just made a foolish mistake.”

She waits, poised on the sofa opposite, for her anger to subside sufficiently for her to speak civilly, or for him to bridge the distance between them. To reach out a tentative hand, or at least offer a smile.
     But he is rooted there: head bowed, elbows on knees, fin­gers touching as if in prayer. At first, she despises this show of sanctimony—a Blairite trope, the penitent politician—and then she softens as his shoulders shake, just the once, not with a sob but with a sigh. For a moment, she sees her mother as her charm­ing, rakish father confessed to yet another “indiscretion.” Ginny’s dry resignation, and then the quickly suppressed flash of pain in her marine-blue eyes.
     Perhaps this is what all husbands do? Sorrow surges, then anger. It shouldn’t be like this. Their marriage is different. Founded on love and trust and a sex life that she does her very best to maintain.
     She has made compromises in her life, and God knows, she took a huge leap of faith when they got back together. But the one certainty was that their relationship is solid. Her vision be­gins to blur, her gaze filming with tears. He looks up and catches her eye—and she wishes he hadn’t.
     “There’s something else,” he says.

Of course he wouldn’t confess to an affair without a reason.
     “Is she pregnant?” The words—ugly but necessary—discolor the space between them.
     “No, of course not.”

She feels herself relax a little. No half-sibling for Emily and Finn. No proof of a liaison. No need to share him in any other way.
     And then he looks up with a grimace. Her nails bite into her palm in sharp crescents, and she sees that her knuckles are ivory pearls thrusting through the red of her skin.
     What could be worse than some other woman having his child, or perhaps choosing to abort his child? Other people knowing. The affair, a particularly juicy piece of gossip, dropped into the ear of a favored few in the Commons tea rooms until it becomes general knowledge. Who knows? His colleagues? The PM? Other MPs’ wives? What about Ellie? She imagines Ellie’s silly, plump face alight with barely suppressed pity. Perhaps she already knows and recognized her lie of a text.
     Sophie forces herself to breathe deeply. They can deal with this; move beyond it. They have experienced far worse, haven’t they? There is no crime in having a quick fling. It can be brushed over, quickly forgotten, absorbed. And then James says something that takes this to a more damaging, corrosive level that strikes her in the solar plexus hard as she contemplates a scenario so terrible that, fool that she is, she hadn’t quite seen coming.
     “The story’s about to break.”

Reading Group Guide

This reading group guide for Anatomy of a Scandal includes an introduction, discussion questions, and ideas for enhancing your book club. The suggested questions are intended to help your reading group find new and interesting angles and topics for your discussion. We hope that these ideas will enrich your conversation and increase your enjoyment of the book.
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Introduction

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, and 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 lovers 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 Sophie think if she knew the truth?

Topics & Questions for Discussion

1. One of the themes of Anatomy of a Scandal is what is seen versus what is hidden or secret. From the simplest element of Kate putting on her robe and wig versus wearing her “civilian” clothes, to the upright, clean-cut facade of James’s public persona versus his carefully concealed past, the major characters in the novel have secret sides of themselves. In what other ways does Sarah Vaughan emphasize the dual natures of characters and situations?

2. While at Oxford University, the characters live with many traditions and within ancient buildings full of history. How is the past interwoven into the characters’ lives? How do the settings add to the atmosphere and reflect the themes of the novel?

3. Why do you think Sarah chose to have Sophie and Holly study English? How do they use their education as adults?

4. On page 112, Sophie thinks to herself, “she imagined a veneer of serenity encasing her, a hard impenetrable polish.” What does this tell you about Sophie as a character? When and how do you see this hard shell protecting her during the novel? Do you think it also harms her?

5. What does Holly’s physical transformation communicate about her emotions and internal life? What physical elements of Holly remain in her new identity as Kate?

6. When Kate sees Olivia testifying for the first time, she thinks, “She is about to reveal herself as emphatically as if she were cut to the bone” (p. 123). How does the trial reveal character traits? What subtle traits does Sarah imply through the characters’ testimonies and actions in court rather than tell us in the more explicit narration?

7. Each woman in the novel is confronted with a series of choices. Which choices do the women feel they must make? Do you think they had other options than the ones they went with?

8. When Sophie confronts James after the court has found him not guilty of raping Olivia, saying she knows that he didn’t tell the whole truth to the jury, he responds, “I told the truth, near enough. Or the truth as I saw it. . . . We all adjust the truth from time to time” (p. 312). As a group, discuss the small and large ways in which the various characters adjust the truth throughout the novel.

9. What was the impact on you as readers of realizing Kate wasn’t a reliable narrator? Did it lessen your sympathy toward her?

10. Were you surprised by Sophie’s reaction to James’s admission of perjury (even if he wouldn’t define it as such)?

11. At the end of the novel, Brian tells Kate not to worry, that James won’t “get away with it this time” (p. 338). What do you think will happen to James? Will he be held accountable?

12. After finishing the book, read the epigraph from Hilary Mantel’s historical novel Bring Up the Bodies. Her book delves into the heart of Tudor history, exploring the dramatic trial of Anne Boleyn and her lovers for adultery and treason. The quote itself comes from Thomas Cromwell; many of the men he has accused of adultery are his political enemies. By citing a moment from history, what themes does Sarah’s epigraph emphasize in her book?

13. Sarah worked for many years as a journalist for leading British publications. In what ways can you see her journalistic background informing Anatomy of a Scandal?

14. If there were one more chapter in Anatomy of a Scandal, what do you imagine would happen in it?

Enhance Your Book Club

1. There are many portrayals of political scandals in the media. As a group, watch an episode of a television show such as The Good Wife, Scandal, or House of Cards and compare it to Anatomy of a Scandal. Are there similar techniques that the scriptwriters and Sarah Vaughan use to build suspense? What literary and visual symbols are employed to enhance the novel’s and shows’ themes?

2. If your book club has not already read Hilary Mantel’s Bring Up the Bodies, choose it for your next read and discuss the similarities in political scandals across the eras.

3. To learn more about Sarah Vaughan, read more about her other writings, and connect with her online, visit her official website at http://www.sarahvaughanauthor.com/.

Customer Reviews

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Anatomy of a Scandal: A Novel 4 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 35 reviews.
PNWBookworm More than 1 year ago
This book is a slow burn mystery that will have you wondering did he or didn’t see until the end. The issues of consent, privilege and entitlement are the central themes and this book comes at a time when society is finally taking a deeper look at these issues. The book switches between character view points and past present to tell you all sides of the story and does a good job of stringing you along so that you don’t know who to trust until near the end. While I enjoyed the book for the most part and I found the twists intriguing it was a little to slow paced for me and I found myself skimming at times. The character development and plot were well done, as was the writing but the book just didn’t pull me in.
Jessica-Lezama26 11 days ago
Anatomy of a Scandal is not for everybody, it has certain “experiences” that can bother some sensible people. Being said that, Anatomy of a Scandal is a book that will make you eager to continue reading, it will play with your mind on who you should believe and what really happened. For me, at the beginning it was a little slow, no getting why different POV’s but as you read the book everything starts to make sense. The story is good, the characters too but my favorite without doubt is Sophie, the new Sophie and not the one from college. This Sophie realizes what she truly deserves and what not, and loved that she was strong for her and her family. When you start reading, you start to make your assumptions but nothing is decided until you read the last word. This book has zero romance, so if you think you will find something of that, no, this book is about knowing the people how they really are, and finding the truth in a world where money and power is everything.
mroberts307 27 days ago
I buddy read this book with a friend, and that was the perfect way to do it, because there is SO much to discuss! As you read this you think you know what is coming- it seems clear cut. You can probably predict the ending and figure out the truth from the lies. But then- NOPE. Not what you thought was happening, not what you thought was the truth, and not what you were expecting at all! The book's topic is a tough one to write about but I think the author did a fantastic job with her research and portrayal of the courtroom experience and the emotions involved. I love stories with connections that appear out of nowhere and complicate things- it takes what could have been just another thriller to a whole new level and make it more interesting. I'd definitely recommend this one!
CCinME 4 months ago
Very good and topical treatment. An extramarital affair - he said/she said - twists and turns along with revelations. Well done!
Anonymous 6 months ago
This was not a suspenseful book, as the description promised. I can only give it two stars because I found myself not really caring about the fate of the characters, nor was I surprised, shaken up, or emotionally invested in this storyline. The positives: The writing is complex and descriptive. Personally, I found myself skimming a lot of it, as I don't like too much mind-numbing description; however, I still consider this a positive aspect of the book. The author certainly was not lazy in telling this story. Also, the characters are laid out in an interesting way. The negatives: There is no suspense. Perhaps this is more the fault of the book description than the book itself. I expected something suspenseful, however, and I was disappointed. As an American lawyer, I found the trial scenes hard to read, since the lawyers' questioning (and testifying) would be improper in the U.S. Again, this is not the fault of the book so much as my own preference, but I don't know how many Americans can relate to these trial scenes. What's interesting: With the belated allegations against Harvey Weinstein (and seemingly everyone else) that are currently making the news rounds, this book is definitely relevant. As you read it, you definitely think about what makes some women come forward, what makes others keep dirty secrets, and what makes some women lie.
Anonymous 9 months ago
I had a hard time getting into this book. It was a little slow and confusing at first with all the multiple points of view. I almost gave up on it a few times but I HATE giving up on books when I keep thinking it's about to get good. Finally in the middle of the book the pieces started coming together and making sense and I enjoyed several chapters. The ending wasn't what I expected it to be and was a little disappointing. I definitely liked the character of Kate and was glad to root her on as she took on James at trial. I liked the court proceedings in the book and the flashbacks too. Overall, I don't know that I would recommend this book. It definitely had promise upon reading the summary but for me it didn't live up to it!
CaitlinAllen More than 1 year ago
Thank you to Atria Books and NetGalley for the free review copy of this novel. All opinions in this blog are my own. I have had this book for quite a while, and since it doesn’t publish until January, I pushed it off. Now I am wondering why I took so long to read it. This novel was fantastic. The book goes between a major court case and flash backs that slowly pull the whole picture together. During these flashback, the plot is built slowly. Once twists were revealed, I was shocked. I love a book that will keep me guessing throughout the entire thing, and this novel delivered. This book centers around a prominent man in the British government that has been accused of rape. As the trial goes on, more discoveries are revealed, and it leaves the reader wondering what is going to happen to this man. Vaughan does a great job of building the anticipation in the novel. The book will leave you wanting to race through it to figure out what is going to happen. I did get caught up on different parts about Parliament and the House of Commons, but not knowing about this information didn’t take away from the novel. The only thing I didn’t like was how the ending tapered after the verdict of the court case. I understand why she ended it the way she did, but I wished it would’ve ended differently. It was still a great novel.
Cyndy G S More than 1 year ago
This took awhile for me to get into but once I did it unfolded beautifully. It read more like a mystery to me. The plot was well developed as were the characters although I admit I was not overly fond of them. I loved to hate some of the characters in this book. I did have a hard time getting through some parts of this book but it was a solid read for me. It really brings into question how much would you cover up and or stand by your spouse if you think or know that they are guilty of an awful crime. James was not one of my favorite characters and I thought Sophie needed a backbone at times. The writing was superb, the plot did keep me interested and on my toes. I look forward to this authors next book.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anatomy of a Scandal by Sarah Vaughan 2017 Received as ARC from publishers via NetGalley for review. What constitutes a scandal? Usually, there are several conflicting views of the same story. What makes one person a more reliable source than another? In this novel, the actions of an Oxford educated politician in Britain's Parliament are being scrutinized. James was raised in a wealthy privileged family which fostered his perception of accountability. Consequently, he has to defend himself against a prosecutor with a big chip on her shoulder. The prosecutor, Kate, had struggled to be a successful barrister defending innocent victims despite her unfortunate past. The story unfolds through alternating POV including, Sophie, the dedicated spouse of James. Like James, Sophie was raised with opportunities and wealth which jaded her view of reality. This is a well written book which raises questions regarding how well do we truly know other people including those closest to us? There are many layers and opinions regarding a truth that might otherwise seem obvious. I don't like giving spoilers so I will just add that often even the truth isn't necessarily the true story. It is interesting how different people can experience the same situation yet arrive at a completely different and opposing conclusion. I enjoyed the suspense and well developed characters. Like most scandalous stories there will always be people who strive to seek the truth at any cost. Sometimes, these people can be admired or criticized for their cunning approach in the sake of the truth.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
So sad this has always been the truth in politics . ...reading it has you putting different names in place of james. rd
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Really liked this book. Will read more by this author
tracygib More than 1 year ago
Anatomy of a Scandal was a tale of justice, denial, self-preservation, vindication, and a journey to find the truth. As I read through the pages, gathering information from each angle, I was probed to determine my own definition of justice and truth. I found this book to be a little slow-going at first but was pulled in by Vaughan's ability to display multiple character viewpoints and perspectives that aren't always shown in many mysteries of this type.
DebTat2 More than 1 year ago
If you enjoyed Apple Tree Yard then you will Love this! My first read of 2018 and what a way to kick-start the year with, it is a gripping and immersive book that is a definite “Burn the midnight oil” kind of book! But completely worth the loss of sleep Set between 1993 Oxford University and London 2017 the story is told from 5 view points, the main ones being Kate, James and Sophie. Kate a QC who specialising in rape trials, James a member of parliament and close friend of the prime minister and Sophie, wife of James and mother to his 2 children. The other people to lend their voices to the narrative of this story are Alison or Ali as she was known at uni and Holly, another class mate from the uni days. There is a plot twist part way in but I saw that one coming, however that didn’t detract from the enjoyment and adds another layer to the story. The characters may not be real but they so easily could be and the storyline its self could be real, I expect if you went riffing back through history you might well find something similar. This has been written in such a good way the lines between fiction and reality become blurred and you half expect to switch on the news and see the headlines about James scrolling across screen! It will be a book that stays with me long after completing and gives a lot of food for thought. Would I recommend this book? 100% Yes! Not to just people who enjoy a good court room trial but to anyone, no matter what their normal genre of books are.
CLynnT More than 1 year ago
Sophie has done and been all the right things in her life: pretty and popular in college, athletic, well-liked and dating the most handsome future husband, James. They’ve created the perfect family in the perfect home; she’s a stay-at-home mom while he’s a well-respected Tory Junior Minister. All is not as it appears, though, and Sophie’s time of pretending to be oblivious to the cracks and faults in their foundation is drawing near. James has been accused of rape by his former mistress. He willingly admits the months-long affair but insists the events on the evening of the rape were consensual. The lead prosecutor, Kate Woodcroft, a London barrister, reacts unusually when given the case and it’s not for quite a ways into the circumstances before we realize the full picture. Flashing back to their privileged college days in Oxford where Sophie is dating James, who is a member of the societal club aptly named “The Libertines” (one who behaves without moral principles or a sense of responsibility, especially in sexual matters), we are introduced to the friends of each. But there’s something more to James’ friend and enabler Tom and Sophie’s friend and enabler Holly. While reviewing the facts of the “so-called rape”, you begin to question if it’s a false claim made by a jilted lover. But as you’re allowed the brief glimpses into the earlier Oxford days of their youth, you begin to question the innocence of not only James but Sophie too. You will not be able to look away as the train slowly crashes. (I received an advance copy of this book from NetGalley in exchange for an unbiased review. Thank you to Atria/Emily Bestler Books and NetGalley for making it available.)
Jenea Whittington More than 1 year ago
This centers around a married couple, who are at the center of a scandal that has rocked their little British community. They were once college sweethearts, later to find themselves married with children, living the dream. Only, they were about to have a rude awakening. Sophie Whitehouse has lived happily with her handsome and successful husband, and her two adoring children for years now. Their home is gorgeous, their children want for nothing, and they are well loved. Kate believes she has everything she could ask for. Her world start to crumble on the night her husband tells her of his affair. It is soon in the papers, and then he is charged with a horrible crime against the woman he had the affair with. Then the trial takes place. I will give Sophie a lot of credit, she did stand by him, she did her best to protect her children from the scandal that was going on around them. Don’t know if I would have been able to be so understanding and supportive. But from the outside, James said all the right things. He was handsome, caring, successful and climbing his way up the ladder in the Palace of Westminister. His children loved him dearly, and so did those who knew him. But this was also a man who knew how to get what he wanted. Some would call it determination, and other’s would call it arrogance. The slower pace worked very well with everything going on. Especially with the alternating POV’s between the past and the present being from Sophie, James and from Kate, who I will get to in just a minute. The courtroom setting was definitely intense and intimidating and the trial progressed, it revealed a lot about those involved in the case. Kate, is the Queen Court Prosecutor, the criminal barrister for sexual crimes, she does her job extremely well and gives it her undivided attention. So, it was no surprise when she was given the high profile case of James Whitehouse. As the story goes along, it becomes clear that Kate is willing to put her own job at stake to get a conviction. Why is this case so different for her? It begged the question, was there something more to this specific case that rattled her? Or was she just that sure he was guilty? The courtroom scenes were filled with drama and suspense, and it certainly kept me wanting to know more of what happened, was he guilty? What was Sophie going to do? What about the victim when this was all over with. With so many question, I had to keep turning the pages to find out, I found the ending to be a fairly satisfying one. A few little twists here and there were revealed along the way. It was all really well done. Anatomy of a Scandal was a slow burning thriller filled with deeply buried secrets and deceptions.
Wanda_M More than 1 year ago
Wonderfully written novel! Opened slowly, then took off with that high speed suspense that gets the reader in the mood for a brilliant shock. she wants to believe he is innocent. Then this reader kept wondering, what would you do or think if you were in her shoes? What would you believe? Could it be true? if so, what could she do about it? Could it all just be malicious gossip? ANATOMY OF A SCANDAL, by Sarah Vaughan is full of suspense, intrigue, sadness, hatred, anger, and maybe a few hidden secrets. A thrill a minute read! Sarah's writing skills explode on the pages with a bang! A truly amazing story to get lost in! Gripping drama that will take you to the edge of your seat, and then some! Characters that will move you so deeply that you will need to come up for air before moving on to the next chapter. Then you go right back into the deep again. There's no letting up with this never-ending twisted plot. The title itself makes this story more intriguing. Something twisted going on. I was captured when the first paragraph opened our story with colorful descriptive details. I actually pictured the clump of hair, making a swishing sound, as it hit the desk, then lying there like something dead. As if she was afraid to touch it, let alone pick it back up. A female barrister, Kate wanted to look her best and let everyone know that she was a winner. But, she did not win this one, and it put her in a bad mood. There will be other cases. Suddenly a knock at the door. The intrigue builds. Sophie is in court but she can't believe it. Should she actually be here? She feels numb as she glances around the room. Could this all be a bad dream? Can she make it through this ordeal? Should she get up and walk out? I loved it!! Settle in for a compelling must read!!
WhatChaReadin More than 1 year ago
When you marry a person, you think you know who they are. Sure, we all have our pasts, but those pasts make us into the people we are today. Sophie and James Whitehouse have known each other for a long time. They met and dated in college, went their separate ways and then met and dated again and eventually got married. They started a family had two beautiful children and James embarked on a political career with his long time friend who is now the Prime Minister. James comes home one night with some devastating news for Sophie, he has cheated on her and the news will be all over the papers in the morning. He claims this is the one and only time this has happened during their marriage, but when more news breaks a few weeks later, Sophie begins to question everything she has ever known about her husband. Will she be able to stay with him after all of this? Will she ever be able to trust him again? Thank you to NetGalley, Emily Bestler/Atria Books and Simon & Schuster for the opportunity to read and review this book. I was very excited to read this book. The premise of the story had me hooked from the start. Cheating husband with secrets...I wanted to know what those secrets were and how his family would handle them. Unfortunately this story fell flat for me. It was easy to guess what the twist in the story was although it may not have been obvious the character behind the twist. Once the biggest reveal was made the secret was never exposed in a way I would have like for it to have been. I was waiting for the bomb to drop which was why I kept reading. It was more like a BB Gun went off instead. I give this 3 stars for the overall story was interesting and it kept me reading, but in the end, I was disappointed.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
While there aren’t any big disappointments to point out in this novel, nor are there any exciting, outstanding ones. I found this book to be very mediocre. I was expecting more excitement from a story that takes place in a courtroom for the majority of the story. This was not the case. I also felt that suspense was trying to be built by the author but this only resulted in there being “filler”, so-to-say, to delay the result of whatever was coming. I didn’t even find myself to be that excited/surprised/emotional at all when the verdict of the case was finally revealed. I did appreciate the last little bit of story following the end of the case so that it didn’t just drop off there, but overall things fell flat for me. If you want something up the same alley that is worth the read, try The Wife Between Us (review below).
SKhani More than 1 year ago
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.
angnay01 More than 1 year ago
The book follows the trial of Sophie's husband Jake. He is being tried for rape. Sophie does not believe he could do such a thing. Kate is the lawyer prosecuting the case. She is determined to see that he pays for his crimes. I do not usually read courtroom dramas. I found the book to be a little slow in some areas. it seemed that once the main secret of the book is revealed, the rest just kind of drags. It did however keep my attention enough that I wanted to continue reading to see how it ended. The book had a couple interesting twists. If you enjoy courtroom dramas you may enjoy this book. I receive d this book from Bookishfirst for my honest opinion.
Candice_S More than 1 year ago
Thank you to NetGalley and the publisher for the advance copy of this book - all thoughts and opinions are my own. This was a terrific read, that was incredibly poignant and thought provoking around the conversation of consent. James is a loving husband and father, a charismatic politician moving swiftly up the ranks until he finds himself accused of a horrific crime. Sophie, his wife, college sweetheart, and mother of his children, is determined to stand by him, to hold her family together through this crisis that is rocking them to their foundations as a family. Kate is the lawyer who will prosecute the case; tough, determined and focused on seeing justice handed out to those guilty of the crimes they commit. She is convinced of James' guilt and confident in her ability to ensure he pays the price. But who really knows the truth of what happened? Who can be sure of James' innocence or guilt? Soon Sophie finds herself doubting the man she has spent her life loving, and wondering how badly she may have misjudged the man she married. I really enjoyed this as a story, and found myself moving through it quickly. I loved the twists, that kept me on the edge of my seat waiting to see what would happen next. I will, however, say I found the style of writing somewhat distracting from the story itself - Sarah Vaughan uses an almost excessive amount of description in her writing, and I found that to pull me out of the story from time to time, as I would lose track of where the chapter was meant to be taking the story. However, once I settled into the book, I found it easier to keep pace. Overall, this was a great read, and one that I think will be popular with book clubs, as this dishes out so many meaty topics to discuss.
Sandy5 More than 1 year ago
I was riding both sides of the courtroom with this novel, not sure really if I wanted to believe the defendant or the prosecutor in this case. It all came down to one event, one encounter and with only two people witnessing the event, it was her story against his, two completely different stories. He claimed he called off the affair but the events that transpired between these two individuals tell a different story. It’s a, who did what and who said what, when the lift was called and these two individuals walked inside it. It’s the jury who will hear the case and have to decide who is actually telling the truth, they have someone’s future in their hands. The novel is told from a few different viewpoints and I knew someone was not being honest. I felt for the wife of the defendant as she knew nothing about the affair until it became public news and her husband sat her down to confess. I think she behaved appropriately, going through all the emotions and considerations. She was a kept woman, it’s what she had wanted and standing by her man was what she thought was the best solution. I didn’t his wife to begin with but as the story was being played out, I found to like her a great deal. The story adds a new element now as I read, it flashes back in time to when the wife was in college. We see what she was like, who her friends were and events that occurred during a brief time while she was there. This new view adds a twist to the story, a twist that becomes critical to the case. I pondered this twist, I envisioned different scenarios, some worse than others. I wanted the worse, it’s not that I’m evil, I just wanted justice. As I read this novel, I kept anticipating when something dramatic would occur. I liked the court scenes, I liked the order and control yet there was this intensity of what was being said and the drama of the whole situation. As the two stories started to come together, I found myself holding my breath as individuals were giving their testimony under oath. I was high strung in the end, I wanted blood, I wanted it all, and as I looked at what was left of the novel there were too many pages left to give me the justice I wanted. Was justice served in the end? You betcha, but I would have dug much deeper! I won a copy of this book from Bookish First, this review is my own honest opinion.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
One of the best books I've read in quite awhile.
HeresToHappyEndings More than 1 year ago
I am a huge sucker for thrillers, so when I heard about Anatomy of a Scandal, I was intrigued and wanted to get my hands on this book as soon as I could! While legal and crime books aren't typically my thing, since there was so much else going on in this book I was really entertained and I didn't feel overwhelmed by too much going on at once, either. The characters in this book are amazing - I love how well they are written and the high amount of detail really makes them easy to connect with and find yourself really looking forward to seeing what happens with them next. The plot of this book is pretty much genius - although it seems as though there is more than one subplot going on at once, everything wraps up together nicely with a few twists and turns that you will find yourself shocked at!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Tough subject but excellent book. This is my first time read this author. The characters were very believable and the storyline kept drawing you in for more,