“Anatomy of a Scandal” by Sarah Vaughan


asteriaiconI really need to stop reading these “Best of 2018” lists. This was another book that appeared on such a list, and I like a good mystery so I gave it a shot.

James Whitehouse appeared to have it all; the beautiful wife who stands by his side no matter what, 2 wonderful children, and a cushy job as part of the British Parliament. He is even personal friends with the British Prime Minister after attending a posh college together. But everything falls apart after it is revealed that he had an affair with a colleague. Sophie, his wife, can deal with that, thinking they can work past this. But then her husband is charged with rape, and Sophie has to re-evaluate her entire life with a man she isn’t sure she even knows anymore. Kate is the lawyer in charge of prosecuting James Whitehouse. She is hell-bent on sending him to prison, convinced of his guilt. This is the highest profile case she has worked, and her career is on the line with it. Is she overambitious? Is James really guilty?

This was a very frustrating book. The characters were not likeable or relatable. The blurb on the cover paints James as a loving father, but that never came through at all to me. They were privileged rich people who were arrogant and entitled. I like when characters are flawed, and they own their flaws, when they learn and grow from them. These characters did not learn anything. They did not grow and become better people. They felt they were entitled to whatever they wanted. Even Kate, who I almost felt bad for, who seemed such a fragile character, still felt entitled enough to risk her entire career, and potentially go to jail, to try to put James behind bars by any means necessary, even if unethical.

I just found it so deeply disappointing.  I found it frustrating that rape, which alters someone life so profoundly, something that can destroy a person’s relationships for life, to be treated so cavalier in this book. Why is it okay that someone with money and privilege can get away with treating people like toys? That it is okay to take what you want, even when told “NO”. That a woman is a lesser being than a man. To me it just dramatizes rape and dismisses a person’s pain and suffering after such a traumatic event. The character raped was given no substance whatsoever; we don’t even really meet her, which I found terribly sad. I found no real complexity or substance to the book, and I skimmed through a lot of it. I like court room drama; however this just didn’t have the suspense for me. It will be an easily forgettable book this year, much like most of the “best of 2018” books I have read so far. I seem to be one in a few who did not like this book, and that is okay.

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