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Anatomy of a Scandal

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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?

392 pages, Hardcover

First published January 11, 2018

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About the author

Sarah Vaughan

11 books1,200 followers
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 and write fiction. Her 3rd novel, Anatomy of a Scandal, was an instant international bestseller, a Sunday Times top five bestseller, a kindle number 1 bestseller, a Richard & Judy pick, and was longlisted for the Theakson's Old Peculier Crime Novel and shortlisted for awards in France, Sweden and the UK. It has been translated into 22 languages and is being adapted for TV. Her 4th novel, Little Disasters, will be published in France, Spain, Portugal, Sweden, the UK on April 2 and the US on August 18. She lives in Cambridge with her husband and two young children.

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Displaying 1 - 30 of 3,730 reviews
Profile Image for Emily May.
1,964 reviews294k followers
February 14, 2018
Men can make fools of us all.

I LOVE a good courtroom drama.

I can't help it. My idea of the inside of a courtroom is heavily-influenced by years of watching Law & Order and, these days, watching Annalise Keating brutally taking down prosecutors and witnesses in How to Get Away With Murder. I love the (completely sensationalized) battle of wits, the dramatic "object, your honor!", the tense moment before the verdict is revealed.

And Anatomy of a Scandal has all of that and more.

There's several different perspectives, but the two main ones are of Kate - a sexual offenses prosecutor this time taking on the high profile case of a government minister accused of rape - and the minister's wife, Sophie, who knows her husband is far from perfect, but cannot imagine he could ever commit this horrendous crime. It's even more compelling because both women are extremely complex and fascinating characters and our interest in them drives the story.

James is a loving father and husband who made a mistake by having a lust-fuelled affair, but that doesn't make him a rapist, and Sophie is determined to stand by him. To be a "good wife". But, of course, some dark history is about to come into play, asking us to wonder whether James is the victim of a scorned woman's agenda, or if his actions are the latest in a long line of horrors.

To be fair, though, I don't want to paint this as a twisty book shrouded in mystery. It's not just one more in a long line of domestic thrillers. The tension comes from the action and drama of the case and the impact this has, not from surprises and reveals, of which there are few, if any.

Between the corridors of Oxford University and the corridors of Westminster, Vaughan weaves an intriguing narrative about privilege, sexual assault, and womanhood. She looks at something that has always fascinated and horrified me about the judicial system - and Krakauer even addressed it in his nonfiction work about rape - the importance of winning cases, putting on the most convincing performance, over truth and justice.

Anatomy of a Scandal might be less of a traditional thriller than a lot of the books I've been reading lately, but it was definitely one of the most thrilling.

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Profile Image for Deanna .
665 reviews12.4k followers
January 7, 2018
My reviews can also be seen at: https://deesradreadsandreviews.wordpr...

4.5 Stars!!

With everything that has been going on in the world recently, I was thrilled to have the opportunity to read this timely novel.

Kate Woodcroft’s work is her life. Divorced with no children, she’s practiced law for many years. She specializes in prosecuting sexual crimes and she is no stranger to difficult cases. However, today she is in a bad mood after losing a case. But then her long time clerk, Brian comes to see her.

“What you need, is something that will take you to the next level. That will completely make your career.”

He has her attention now…

I’ve got just the sort of case you need.”

Sophie Whitehouse and her husband James have been married for twelve years and have two children together. Both grew up in affluent households and first met while attending Oxford. James is now a Junior Home Office minister. She watches her husband and the children, as they leave for the day. Her family. Her world. A world that crumbles at 8:43 that evening.

James is late and when he finally gets home from work and he tells her they need to talk. She tenses as she sees the look he gives her. It’s the same look he gave her twenty-three years earlier, right before he confessed to something that damaged their world. What he tells her now breaks her heart. But Sophie tells herself that they can get through this… they have been through worse. But it seems this is only the beginning, that the worst is yet to come, when he says....

“The story’s about to break”

Her husband has been accused of a heinous crime; Sophie is convinced he’s innocent. She’s desperate not to let these vicious lies break her family apart.

Kate is the prosecutor in the case against James. She’s determined to win and becomes obsessed with the case. It’s all she can think about. She’s usually able to remain detached but this case is unnerving her.

Will Sophie be strong enough to ask herself the hard questions? Even though she may not want to hear the answers to them?

So what happened all those years before?

So many secrets ….so many lies. But who is lying?

We learn about the characters lives through flashbacks and their individual perspectives. Hints about trauma and other incidents are slowly revealed.

“Anatomy of a Scandal” is a slow burning, character driven novel. In the beginning, there were times that my attention waned. There was a lot of legal jargon and details about the judicial system etc., but I realize that the author was trying to set the scene. I’m glad I stuck with it because before I knew it, I was fully immersed in the plot and the lives of the characters.

All in all this I thought this was an intelligent, impressive, thought-provoking and timely novel. A cautionary tale that shows we may not always know as much about someone as we think we do. A story about sex, entitlement, power, and as the author says -- “ venturing into dark places most of us would prefer not to think about”.

I read this book along with some of the members of the Traveling Sisters. Though we may not have all had the same reaction to the novel, it’s always interesting hearing the different points of view.

Thank you to Atria Books for providing a copy of this book for me to read in exchange for my honest review.
Profile Image for Chelsea Humphrey.
1,440 reviews78.1k followers
December 29, 2017
Sophie never thought of her husband as a liar. She knows he dissembles, yes. That's part of his job... A prerequisite, even, to being 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. 

Another excellent and timely read folks! Anatomy of a Scandal was brilliant and will likely be well-accepted by the crowd who enjoys their crime fiction to feature slow burning suspense with heavy doses of legal procedure. As I read this novel, I couldn't help but notice the apparent experience Vaughan has in this area. The quality of writing and the unfolding of the plot were done so well that only someone who has lived and breathed a part of this world could fashion such details and emotions. This is another suspenseful story featuring a nice twist, so you'll want to stay away from spoilers and know as little as possible going in to receive the maximum benefit of the wow factor.

She tries to pretend it is never said, but the night is still and the quad empty.
"I'm telling the truth-and I think you know it."

This entire book circles around the theme of whether or not a person can get away with their transgressions simply because they are privileged, and if so, how many people are willing to bury their head in the sand convincingly. I don't want to touch on any plot specifics, as it's too spoilery, but I will say that there are many facets to what appears as a straightforward story. We have an idea of what happens in the beginning, and as more evidence and flashbacks are added to our arsenal, the evidence points in many directions to many different things. This isn't a story intent on making you to feel sorry for a rapist, or trying to get you to understand what went wrong in his life to cause him to do this; here we more have a story of those around the accused and how they are and were affected by the claims against him. James is immediately an unlikable character in my opinion, and I was glad to not have the distraction of trying to force myself into feeling sorry for him.

He is watching me, closely, and it's as if he knows exactly what I need to hear. And, though I know the law does not always punish the guilty...I also know that, in the court of public opinion, things are rather different and more than one morally questionable act seems more than a coincidence can-if uttered sufficiently often and loudly-completely ruin a man. 

This book won't be for everyone, and if you enjoy your thrillers to be action packed with nail-biting suspense, this probably won't be your cuppa. If you, however, enjoy slow burning drama full of satisfying plot and meaty characters, give this one a try. While the plots are a bit different, I received the same feeling after finishing Anatomy of a Scandal as I did with He Said/She Said by Erin Kelly. I do believe this type of book will be relevant for many years to come, and while I thoroughly enjoyed reading this one and wish the author much success, I do hope and dream of a day where it's message of warning and privilege becomes irrelevant. Well done and can't wait to see more from Sarah Vaughan!

*Many thanks to the publisher for providing my copy; it was a pleasure to provide my honest thoughts here. 
Profile Image for Jeffrey Keeten.
Author 3 books248k followers
February 9, 2020
”But the truth is, women are often scared of antagonizing their assailants or they feel conflicted; not so very long ago they may have been charmed by them. And we women aim to please. It is hardwired into us that we should placate and mollify---bend our will to that of men. Oh, some of us have fought against that, and we’re seen as hard-nosed, difficult, assertive, shrewish. We pay the penalty. Why don’t I have a proper, live-in partner? It’s not just because I’m unsure if I can trust anyone sufficiently. It’s because I refuse to compromise. I refuse to woman up, you might say.”

Compromise is not necessarily a bad word, especially if the needs of both parties involved are weighed equally. Unfortunately, compromise has been a word that has been applied more to women than men. Women, through the years, have been somewhat enablers to men’s bad behavior, but they also have not felt empowered enough to say no. Inequality of pay, glass ceilings, social perceptions of their role, and systematic brainwashing have layered into their psyche a fine webbing of insecurities, which makes them much easier to subjugate. Those women who break free, and frankly even the most aggressive of women have only made small advances, are usually marginalized by friends, family, and coworkers.

Don’t you want a boyfriend? Don’t you want to get married? Don’t you want to have kids? Then play by the rules.

Historically, power is never given. It has to be taken. “Men” are not going to give up their power just because women ask nicely. Recent headlines have shown us that we are on a verge of a revolution. The question will be, will women be able to push it as far as it needs to go, or will they end up having to compromise once again?

So where does the trouble begin? Maybe it begins with a belief.

We are invincible, fucking invincible, James thought….”

That is our man James Whitehouse, a man of abundant wealth, charm, and hunkiness. At Oxford, he was on the rowing team and walked around campus like a Greek god. He was a member of a group called the Libertines, and they did their best to live up to the name of the club. For those who may not know the definition of a Libertine, here it is: a person, especially a man, who behaves without moral principles or a sense of responsibility, especially in sexual matters. The young men in this group felt fully empowered to embrace the hedonistic implications as a mandate... nay, as a right of their social status.

You see, they are rich.

To give you an example: at a restaurant, they get rip roaring drunk and start breaking the glassware. They are too drunk to drink anymore, but decide that they will still pour the rest of the Bollingers on hand at the restaurant (they call it Bolly) down the drain. The type of wastefulness that puts my teeth on edge. They can afford to do anything they want to do and be whatever they want to be.

James is paired up with Sophie, well, and with every other girl he can get horizontal or at least backed up against a wall for a good round of thrusts. Sophie is beautiful with long legs, long blonde hair, a fit rowing body, and a pristine pedigree. She would make the perfect wife for a man with his eye on a political career. As wonderful and gasp worthy as their life seems to be, I’ve found that, whether people sit on golden toilets or cracked porcelain, the human elements of existence still always come into play.

Sophie, with two kids now and a husband on the rise in politics, is going to have to make a choice. ”You want to believe your husband. She wants to destroy him.”

The she is the barrister Kate Woodcroft, who is carrying more baggage than a 747. She receives the file on the young blond assistant, who says that James Whitehouse raped her in a lift, and the bitter smile of opportunity curls the edges of Kate’s lips.

Cases like this come down to who the jury will believe and who the jury likes the best. Sexual assault or rape rarely have witnesses, so it amounts to the he said/she said arguments, and who said what, and who heard what.

Does no mean NO, or does no mean maybe? Who wouldn’t want to have sex with James Whitehouse? He is dreamy, after all.

Even as the case seems to be straight forward, preordained even, Sarah Vaughan has loaded into the plot a burning Molotov cocktail that, when it goes off, brings new meaning to revenge served cold. Switching to different narrators with each new chapter leads to new revelations that land like body blows as it becomes more and more clear how those who feel entitled are playing by different rules than the rest of us. This is a story that could have easily been splashed across the headlines of The Guardian, The Sun, The Daily Mail or The Evening Standard.

With all the sexual scandals rocking Hollywood, journalism, and politics in the United States, there have been many interesting, and sometimes heated, discussions in my household about all the nuances of the numerous accusations being made against various powerful men. I’m sure the same has been happening all across the United States in other households, as well. Hopefully, not too many men are finding themselves banished to the couch or the back bedroom. This is a book that would be interesting for couples to read together to encourage discussion of the numerous aspects that surround these issues that obviously deserve and need more understanding.

I want to thank Atria Books for supplying me with an Advance Reading Copy in exchange for an honest review.

If you wish to see more of my most recent book and movie reviews, visit http://www.jeffreykeeten.com
I also have a Facebook blogger page at:https://www.facebook.com/JeffreyKeeten
Profile Image for Nilufer Ozmekik.
2,204 reviews40.8k followers
July 18, 2022
Oh my goodness! I couldn’t put this riveting, thought provoking, disturbing, provocative, political thriller down! I devoured in one sitting, up all night to compare it with its Netflix adaptation!

As I expected it was one of the best novels of talented Sarah Vaughan keeps you in toes, makes you think which side is telling the truth, getting furious at husband who cannot keep in his pants, feeling sorry and also angry at wife who still stands with by her husband for the sake of their family and you want to know the truth: keep turning the pages faster to find out what’s gonna happen as your heart in your mouth.

James Whitehouse, a good politician, member of Parliament, a good husband and good father is accused of raping her parliamentary researcher Olivia Lytton who had an affair for five months. Olivia insists after James broke up with her, she felt devastated because she was in love with him and when they kissed at the elevator of House of Commons she thought she missed at first but then things got out of control. Was that hardcore sex or was it rape?

Before the press release, he comes clean with his wife about the affair and after the rape charges, his wife Sophie still believes in his innocence as prosecutor hotshot lawyer Kate is so sure who is guilty and she’s determined enough to find out the truth.

Who tells the whole truth? What happened to Sophie’s tutorial partner Holly in Oxford! Could her husband be a rapist and could be ruin more than one woman’s life?

I advise you to both read the book and check out the series! It’s freaking good!
Also you may check my Instagram feed:
Profile Image for Julie .
4,030 reviews58.9k followers
December 17, 2018
Anatomy of a Scandal by Sarah Vaughn is a 2018 Atria/Emily Bestler Books Publication.

Timely, with a few very intriguing twists!

When the Junior Member of England, James Whitehouse, is caught out in an affair, it looks as though he will weather the storm, both professionally and personally- until his mistress, Olivia, comes forward with an accusation of rape.

Kate, a prosecutor/barrister believes James is guilty as sin. But, his wife, Sophie, despite enduring the humiliation of his affair, doesn’t think her husband is capable of sexual assault. She plays the part of the supportive politician's wife- a cliche if there ever was one, going along with James' management team, saying and doing what was expected of her, while she denies the lie her life has become.

During the investigation and subsequent trial, Sophie, Kate, and James all reveal their inner thoughts, revealing their innermost secrets, some of which are explosive, dangerous, and raise many questions about ethics, about the rape culture, the way the courts handle rape cases. It examines the mindset of the elite and entitled, the nature of politics, and the rationalizations people make, the lies they tell to maintain a way of life they are accustomed to, or to have a taste of power. It also examines gray areas of human nature, which can make the reader think- "What would I do in that situation?"

The story grabbed my attention right away, although the story moved in a predictable fashion, at least in the beginning. But, then a very, very, unique twist develops along the way, which puts a fresh spin on a familiar plot. This revelation creates a suspenseful situation that had me holding my breath, sitting on the edge of my seat. I love courtroom dramas and am always especially interested in the court systems outside the US, so I found the trial segments of great interest, as well.

Usually I’m not a big fanof multiple POV novels, but in this case, it was quite effective and really gave readers deep insight into the characters moral code, the lines they draw in the sand and the ones they are willing to cross- for revenge or for justice.

I thought this book was thought provoking, and of course, it’s very timely and emotional topic. The pacing drags in some places, but other than that, the book is polished, well- constructed, with a unique style and presentation. Legal thrillers have been too few and far between for a long time, so it’s good to find one that well and truly fits into that category!

4 stars
Profile Image for karen.
3,979 reviews170k followers
July 30, 2018
i thought this was going to be another domestic suspense book - a story of crime and marriage full of misleading clues to veer the reader off course, with lies and secrets and conflicting unreliable narrators. and it sort of is, but it’s much broader in scope and less circuitous in structure.

with a kaleidoscope of sexual misconduct allegations making up the backdrop of any given day’s news lately, this is certainly a timely book: james whitehouse, a happily married man of privilege and power, a junior minister in the house of commons and an old school chum of the prime minister, a handsome man who oozes charm and knows how to work any room, is accused of raping a colleague in an elevator lift. to complicate matters, his accuser is a woman with whom he has had an affair, broken off just before the incident.

these situations almost always come down to one individual’s word against another, but this one gets extremely blurry, both in and out of the courtroom. i’m really at a loss when it comes to “how the british legal system works*,” and a lot of what happens in this book surprised me. juries aren’t permitted transcripts of the testimonies during deliberation? this is something i did not know! and the expectations of the lawyers, the process, the way so much came down to semantics, parsing utterances, body language, the particulars of ripped underclothes - it’s all over a messy case filled with lies and shifting (and shifty) perspectives, further complicated (and jeopardized) by the ulterior motives of the prosecuting attorney.

there’s some interesting stuff to chew on here about consent, gray areas, entitlement, gender and culpability, not just specific to this court case, but in the private reflections of the characters, and in their various backstories. i appreciated these ideas being raised and acknowledged, filtered through individual POVs, even if i disagree with some of the observations made by james and by the female characters as well. but that’s the point of littrature, right? black-and-white is boring; there’s more nourishing food for thought in the in-between.

as far as structure, it’s not a tricksy book filled with twists, not really. there’s ambiguity, and i guess one “something” that i figured out early on, but i couldn’t make the facts fit to support it, which was frustrating, since nearly everything lined up and my brain kept telling me what was what, and i felt so stupid later when i realized how easy a hurdle those stubborn “facts” were to clear. but it’s more a character-driven social/legal narrative than a thriller of any stripe; definitely more "book club option" than "vacation escapist book."

* i’m no better at “how british government works,” if we’re being honest. some of it the book explains really well, but i know i’m missing a lot of the nuance, particularly in the hierarchies, so i don’t register when the “minister of thus-and-such” becoming the “minister of this-and-that” is a demotion or a lateral move or what. oh, and i was an innocent babe about what “anal chugging” was, although i could have done without this knowledge. i’ve just googled it now, and the anal chugging the internet seems to know all about, involving a forceful self-administered alcohol enema is very different from the thing called “anal chugging” in this book, and i don’t know what to make of that discrepancy, but i do not have the inclination to research either practice any further. my search history is damning enough as it is.

okay - i caved. i discovered it is the secondary definition on urbandictionary.com. and now i shall clear my cache.


sarah vaughan

is not sarah vaughan

come to my blog!
Profile Image for Linda.
1,230 reviews1,279 followers
July 11, 2017
The process of reconstructing one's life......

Brick by brick. Story by story. Lie built upon lie.

We all leave our footprints planted in the ground of our past. Do we even recognize their familiar forms when trampled on time and again by others? Blurred attempts both intentional and not.

Kate Woodcroft pours herself a stout one to mellow out the night. Being a barrister in London assigned to difficult cases involving violence of a sexual nature has an ember that is only accelerated by that drink. A hot bath eases the knots, but it hardly loosens the mental ties that bind Kate's overburdened heart and weary soul.

The next day brings with it a case that drops both the jaw and the legal file. James Whitehouse, a government minister, has been charged with rape. The accusations have been brought to court by Olivia Lytton, a parliamentory researcher, who works in James' office. Kate will represent Olivia. But who is presenting a true face lined with the honesty of facts and real happenings? Which one of these individuals has danced one too many times leaving footprints of a shady past?

Sarah Vaughan presents a storyline which weaves back and forth in time. Oxford becomes the focal point of the story's rapid pulse in which each character has a connecting line to the others. These spokes of the wheel move forward into actions that have been concealed for questionable reasons on all of their parts. Just how long can lips be sealed?

Vaughan does a spanking great job with her dialogue during the trial. That's the sizzle of the book. The characters are many and each is embedded with flaws of the past that seep into the present. The ending, though clever, seemed a tad contrived for its outcome. But Vaughan does have her finger on the pulse of the action. All in all, this was an engaging read by a very talented author.

My thanks to NetGalley, Atria Books, and to Sarah Vaughan for the opportunity to read Anatomy of a Scandal for an honest review.
Profile Image for Holly  B (Short break!).
815 reviews1,874 followers
February 3, 2018

An clever, scandalous, courtroom drama! I was obsessed from start to finish.

It has all the elements that make a story compelling to me. The vivid characters with the added appeal of having their POV written with emotion and details that bring them to life. The characters were intriguing and would definitely have enjoyed discussing this with someone while reading it together. The plot was perfectly thought out with an explosive twist! The ending was also very satisfying and left me feeling emotional.

Kate is the Queens Court prosecutor. She is determined to win this case against the defendant James. She knows it will be difficult because he is a high profile politician (very timely as of today!) and works closely with the Prime Minister. He is also very handsome, athletic and charming. His wife, Sophie, seems to be making excuses for his bad behavior and is standing tall beside him throughout his trial.

If you enjoy highly entertaining courtroom drama that will keep you absorbed with wanting to know the outcome, then you may enjoy this one! Highly recommend for fans of legal fiction.

Thanks so much Atria for my copy in exchange for my honest review.
Profile Image for Arah-Lynda.
337 reviews525 followers
November 15, 2017
As the title suggests this is the story of a scandal, that happened some years ago among Britain's elite citizenry. In fact it involves a Junior Minister in the House of Commons, one James Whitehouse. I’m sure we have all met men like James: tall, good looking, suave and charismatic, uncommonly gifted, able to work a room and have most everyone eating from his hands. Yet here he stands before us in a Court of Law accused of one of the most heinous crimes one can commit against another. The burden of proof is on the prosecutor and she does not accept it lightly. It is a difficult crime to bring to justice where often the victim becomes more sullied than the perpetrator. Kate stands absolute in her resolve to see justice done.

As contemporary readers I think we can become a little jaded. I mean I have read ever so many graphic portrayals of criminal and inhumane acts. What Vaughn did here was to navigate these treacherous waters without once resorting to sensationalism. In fact she demonstrates remarkable restraint in sharing the specifics of this heinous act with us, without compromising our intimate understanding of the crime. A remarkable achievement although, at times I felt she could have unleashed her prose a little, just enough to jar and keep the reader uncomfortable with that part of the narrative. But that is a minor concern.

Sadly one of the things that really brings this story home, is that it happens all too often, still, all over the world. There is no Hollywood in this story and that is how it should be. There is no Hollywood in this hideous crime.

Ooops I neglected to thank Simon & Schuster, Sarah Vaughn and NetGalley for an opportunity to read an advance copy. Expected publication on Dec. 5, 2017.
Profile Image for Elyse Walters.
4,010 reviews34 followers
January 29, 2018
I was completely captivated, intrigued, and fascinated, with this fast-paced intelligent, timely and relevant novel.

James Whitehouse is a member of the Parliament, and until he was charged with
rape —( at the point of penetration, did James understand that Olivia Clarissa Lytton did not consent to sex?), he was a junior minister in the government. He is married to Sophie whom he has two children with.

James admits his adultery to Sophie ‘before’ the story breaks out to the public. His affair was only sex - an affair which only lasted 5 months - it was his only time he cheated in their twelve years of marriage ( well not counting all the times he cheated back in college when they were an item). The sex he had with Olivia meant ‘nothing’....and HE ended it! HOW BIG of HIM!
And why does James TELL HIS WIFE THAT HE’s a cheating scum-bag? ONLY ONE REASON: HE GOT CAUGHT! His high- profile goody-two-shoes-reputation is at risk. AND THAT’S BEFORE BEING ACCUSED OF RAPE.
James already showed his character-colors very early in this novel. The marriage started off with major red flags. WHY DO WOMEN THINK SO LITTLE OF THEMSELVES TO ‘EXCUSE’ SEXUAL CHEATING?

I THINK I LOVE AUTHOR SARAH VAUGHAN! Awesome novel! Women ought to being getting fired up - not reading this like ho-hum-ho-hum....heard this before. This novel has many thought- provoking opportunities!!!

MEN.......MOVE OVER....
........Women are going to be kicking you in the balls harder than you’ve ever experienced— the old school B.S. isn’t going to fly forever —-WOMEN ARE FINDING THEIR VOICE - EXPRESSING THEIR POWER - and they don’t give a damn how hotsie-totsie good looking and charming ‘he’ is. THE TIME HAS COME TO PUT AN END TO ‘Boy’s-will-be-boys’.....GAME OVER!!!

THIS NOVEL opens a window into the sexual battles between men and women. It’s clear men have had the upper hand through history...but maybe -maybe - books like these empower both men and women to come together - respect each other with equal dignity ...and drop the power games. (unless of course it’s ‘clearly’ an adult consented game).

Olivia Lytton was James parliamentary researcher. They had a consensual relationship- embarked on an affair. Olivia believed she was in love with him. James ended the relationship- told her he needed to be with his family.
Yet—- a week after their affair, they had sexual intercourse once again- in a lift off the committee corridor in the heart of the House of Commons. There is no dispute that this event took place — both sides acknowledge it.
What *is* the dispute is the nature of it.
WAS THIS, IN FACT, RAPE....or as the defense will submit, AN ACT OF PASSION, A FRENZIED BOUT OF LOVEMAKING by two individuals caught up in the moment?

We will hear evidence from both sides!!! Other than the Judge Luckhurst’s need to “adjourn” when ‘he’ gets uncomfortable in his courtroom when things get intense — prosecuting barrister, Kate Woodcroft and defense barrister, Angela Regan each assert, maneuver, disclose, argue, dismiss, and convince their side aimed toward the jury. Is James innocent or guilty?

“Rape, like domestic violence, happens across our classes, could happen to each and everyone of us”.

Cautionary story includes.......
Anatomy of Secrets.....
Anatomy of the Wealthy and privileged.....
Anatomy of Arrogant- callous-elite spineless power hungry narcissists
Anatomy of Political sex scandal....
Anatomy of a British Courtroom drama....
Anatomy of of a marriage....
Anatomy of Scrutinize Old Memories- and how they are never forgotten.
Anatomy of ‘he said/she said’ suspense.....

Terrific book club discussion pick!!!

Thank You Netgalley, Atria Books, and Sarah Vaughan
Profile Image for Carol.
1,370 reviews2,138 followers
September 16, 2017
4.5 Stars.

Addictive writing....Secrets....Lies....and a Perfectly Satisfying last line!

Kate Woodcroft is a QC (Queen's Court) Barrister for the prosecution of sex crimes in London, and she just lost a case...not something that happens often. She likes to win and plans on doing just that with the scandalous high-profile case of a charming, handsome and manipulative politician....JM (Junior Minister) James Whitehouse.

ANATOMY OF A SCANDAL takes the reader back in time 25 years to meet some of Kate's college friends with smooth and engrossing transitions that show a different side of Kate bringing past and present together with surprising reveals and dark secrets.

Sarah Vaughan is a new author for me. One I won't soon forget.

Many thanks to NetGalley and Atria/Emily Bestler Books for the ARC in exchange for an unbiased review.

January 12, 2018
2.5 stars

This novel follows the aftermath of and investigation into a sexual assault scandal involving a high power politician and one of his employees.

I found the storyline intriguing enough to keep me curious until the end, however, this novel really dragged for me. I found the pacing slow, the characters unlikeable and the content jumped all over the place. I had a hard time staying focused and felt that there were several parts of the book that could have been omitted while not taking away from the story (in fact, it may add to it).

Perhaps it was just a timing thing after finishing a few really great reads, but this one just didn’t work for me. There are many glowing reviews out there so I strongly suggest reading those before making a decision on this book.

This was a Traveling Sister Read with Brenda, Susanne, Diane and Deanna. As much as the book didn’t work for several of us, it was still a pleasure to read together and discuss. To find this review, along with the other Traveling Sister reviews, please visit Norma and Brenda's fabulous blog at:


A big thank you to NetGalley, Atria Books and Sarah Vaughan for providing a copy of this ARC in exchange for an honest review!
Profile Image for Diane S ☔.
4,738 reviews14.1k followers
December 27, 2017
3.5 A case that could be taken from the daily headlines in the United States. A politician is being charged with rape, a man who is a long time friend and has the long time support of the prime minister. A man who is married, with two children, a family who he swears he loves. A man who readily confesses to having an affair with the claimant, but insists the sexual act was consensual.

A very slow paced book, in fact I do believe there were some incidences that could have been cut, but that is only my opinion, and one many of my fellow readers in the sisters group shared. The judge, who has a big secret, the wife who can't believe her husband is guilty, and the politician himself who shares a big secret from college years with the prime minister. Though much of the plot followed the expected form, arrogance and shove the law attitudes, but there are some unexpected occurrences that made this more interesting and maddening at the same time.

I found the most interesting element was the changes both the judge and the wife go through. Of course, there is one thing that is not credible, and this lessened the impact and shock value of one unveiling of a secret, so this ended up being a good read but one in which the reader has to have some patience and a willingness to go where the author wants to take one.

ARC from Edelweiss.
Profile Image for Caro (Bookaria).
615 reviews19.5k followers
November 14, 2017
You will not know who to believe in this novel of intrigue and past secrets.

James Whitehouse is a a successful politician who has been married to his wife Sophie for over a decade. Both are attractive, attended Oxford and are respected members of their community. One day James is accused of rape, the victim is a young researcher that works in James's office.  She also had an affair with the accused that ended abruptly two weeks before the event took place.

Your job (if you decided to take it) is to go over the evidence presented in the narrative and decide whether James is guilty of the charge or the victim of lies by a wounded ex-lover. 

This is a character-oriented novel that takes place in England. I love legal thrillers and this one provided excellent details of the Court system in the UK and about the matter of consent.  The novel alternates between the present and the past and is narrated from the points of view of different characters. It was interesting, intriguing and suspenseful.

Overall I liked it and recommend it to readers of legal thrillers.

Thanks to NetGalley, Atria and Sarah Vaughan for an advance copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.
Profile Image for Kaceey.
1,070 reviews3,614 followers
May 9, 2020
This book has collected dust on my TBR shelf for long enough. Finally, thank you to Simon and Schuster the opportunity came up to read it!💃🏽🕺

At first glance Sophie appears to have it all. 2 wonderful children and a husband who works as a Junior Minister. This night, her husband is running unusually late getting home. So late in fact, they miss a dinner engagement. Her sixth-sense kicks into overdrive, and immediately knows something is seriously wrong.
He proceeds to sit her down, warning her a scandal is about to break.... he has been unfaithful! Is Sophie able to forgive him? Move forward with their marriage? What happens if this is merely the tip of the iceberg, given the fact he’s soon to face a trial that will expose their lives to everyone?

Kate works as Prosecutor, and tries cases that typically involve a sexual offense. Reeling from a tough loss in court, the trial of her career lands right in her lap! She must not lose this time!

Told from multiple timelines and perspectives the book flows easily and I was able to follow along effortlessly.

I toggled back and forth between the written version while at home on my sofa and the audio version while commuting to and from work. I enjoyed both equally. The narrators did a superb job pulling me in, allowing me to keep their voices within my imagination while reading the print version! An impressive feat!

Looking for a scandalous book to lose yourself in? I highly recommend picking this one up!
March 22, 2022
The ‘Anatomy of a Scandal’ and the embodiment of evil, deception, and privilege but also courage, strength, and resolve. The story of one woman’s determination to see the right person brought to the justice. Justice that is a long time coming as the accused fights to safe his reputation, career, and marriage.

The Body of the Story

James Whitehouse, an MP stands accused of raping the person he has been having an affair with. The accuser claims he forcibly raped her while he claims it was another willing encounter. One is lying but the victim is up against a man with a reputation, a privileged background, and a person of political and social standing with the right connections. In court, he stages everything from his fingers in a prayer like position, to the clothes, and a voice that soothes with its richness and sense of honesty that is perfectly pitched to lure in the jury.

Meanwhile, Kate as the prosecution's barrister comes face to face with the man she knew from her college days, drawing out toxic memories she would rather forget. With a series of revelations, twists and turns we move through this story at pace as Kate comes to terms with her past whilst maintaining the professionalism needed to prepare a water tight prosecution case.

While he remains rational and forensic, she needs to remain clinical and controlled, but the odds are stacked against the prosecution.

What I liked

A very credible court room drama with characters you will like and loath but all interesting. I particularly liked the author’s portrayal of the extremes in women, from the determined, resourceful, courageous, and principled to the needy, materialistic woman who seeks an education in a soft subject to mix in the right circles to meet Mr right.

What I didn’t like

The plot was pretty obvious and the troupe we’ve covered many times before, which is fair enough but there was nothing especially different or unique in this book that lifted it above the others in this genre. I thought more drama could have been created with the themes at play.

Nevertheless, interesting, a page turner with mostly likeable characters and an easy plot to follow.

3.5 rounded down.
Profile Image for Liz.
2,028 reviews2,540 followers
January 9, 2018
Well, talk about perfect timing. The Me, Too movement is the one constant on the news nowadays. And here comes a novel about a junior minister in the British government, a dear friend of the PM, accused of the rape of his research assistant. The book is told from multiple POV -Sophie, his wife, Kate, the prosecutor, James, the man himself, as well as Holly, a girl from their days at Oxford, and her friend, Ali.

Let me say straight off, I have no tolerance for anyone committing adultery. So, in my eyes, James is a total sh**. Proud of himself that this was the first time he’d cheated on Sophie, well since they’d been married. Can’t count their engagement or when they were dating in college… This is a man used to getting his own way - tall, handsome, Oxford educated, adored by his family.

And poor Sophie is the true politician's wife. She barely allows herself the thought that she didn’t have to stand by his side. She thinks it’s because of the kids, but is it really? This is not a woman I had much sympathy for at the beginning, as I felt she knew what she was signing up for.

As the book moves into the trial, we start to hear more from Kate. She is a lawyer first and foremost. No husband, no kids, she is married to her job. “Like a lover intent on seduction, I will use the tenor and tone of my speech and the way in which I hold their attention to persuade them, I will use every trick in the book.” I wish I understood more how the British legal system works. Because I don’t think the case would have been pursued in the US system. It’s all pretty much he said/she said.

The book moves at a good steady pace. And there are twists I never saw coming. Vaughan does a great job of maintaining the tension, of keeping you guessing. Lots of meat. This would make a great book club selection.

My thanks to netgalley and Altria Books for an advance copy of this novel.
Profile Image for Susanne.
1,159 reviews36.8k followers
December 30, 2017
3 Stars.

James, Junior Minister of England, and his wife Sophie are caught in a fierce legal battle against Kate, a barrister who represents Olivia, in a case in which James has been charged with sexual assault. Olivia and James had an affair and James swears that what happened between them was a consensual act. For Jame’s wife Sophie? Well, her world comes crashing down before her. Kate knows that James is guilty and she is going to make him pay.

Every character in this book had something to hide and in a lawsuit, secrets don’t stay hidden for long.

“Anatomy of a Scandal” is a slow paced suspense novel filled with pomp and circumstance, which sometimes dragged on. In my opinion, the authors strong suit is her character development and that is what kept my attention.

This was a Traveling Sister Read. It included: Brenda, Lindsay, Diane and Deanna.

Thank you to NetGalley, Atria Books and Sarah Vaughan for an ARC of this novel in exchange for an honest review.

Published on NetGalley and Goodreads on 12.30.17.
*Will be published on Amazon on 1.23.18.
Profile Image for Richard (on hiatus).
160 reviews182 followers
March 17, 2020
The Anatomy Of A Scandal by Sarah Vaughan is a thriller and courtroom drama that feels like it’s been plucked from the front pages of a tabloid newspaper.
James Whitehouse, an MP and close friend of the prime minister, is exposed in the press as having an affair with his aide. A standard political scandal but things get worse for his family, friends and the government when there is an accusation of rape.
The novel examines entitlement, unpleasant masculinity and and the atmosphere of untouchability amongst the upper class elite within private schools, top universities and the political class.
We follow the ensuing court case through the eyes of Kate, the prosecuting lawyer, Ali, Kate’s closest friend, Sophie, James’ wounded but pragmatic wife and James himself.
The characters are quite well drawn but not particulate likeable and I never really connected to them.
A further criticism of this book was that the action felt distant. Little happens in the here and now. We are led through the story by way of flashbacks, testimony in court, the memory of characters etc even during the court case (which itself felt a bit sketchy) most of what we are told is a description of what happened a little earlier.
I also found that the pacing and structure worked against the narrative flow. The main plot twists had occurred by the half way mark and the court case concluded well before the end, leaving the latter section of the novel to drag and eventually peter out.
Generally though, the quality of the writing was good and the premise interesting ......... if familiar.
Even with my reservations I would score it a decent 3.5 stars.
Profile Image for alittlelifeofmel.
884 reviews343 followers
July 18, 2018
EDIT: Something was nagging me about my review, and I realized I forgot to talk about how disgusting this book talks about Androgynous people. I've added it in bold near the bottom.

Okay it's time to put on my big girl panties and review this book.

Firstly, I want to thank Atria books for giving me the opportunity to read and review this book by sending me a review copy. They are my favourite publisher, and while I didn't enjoy this book, that still remains because I have never disliked one of their books before.

A brief synopsis: A female lawyer is going to be prosecuting a member of the parliament, high up in the government and friends with the Prime Minister, in court for raping a woman he was having an affair with.

This went from bad to worse for me sadly. It has everything going for it at first and that made me extremely skeptical. It seemed too good to be true to see a topic this important done well and actually including an important social commentary. However, there is a fine line between social commentary and preaching and sadly, for me, this book tipped way over into the preachy side of things.

I should probably mention now that every issue I am mentioning is caused by the writing. The book and topic isn't MEANT to be preachy, but the writing makes it so.

The plot is actually not horrible, but once again, the author made some choices for the book that I didn't really understand. Because the focal point of the book is the rape court case, she has very choppy time cuts. We go from the man being arrested, to the preliminary court case, to the actual court case, in 3 chapters. There is no in between, the time we would normally have to get the story about what happens, the time we could get character development, get growth and learn, but instead we leave the preliminary hearing at the end of 1 chapter and are dropped off in the court again at the beginning of another chapter. The flow was off, and therefore the pacing was off.

The characters sadly also suffered from the writing. There was no development and therefore I didn't care about anyone. I didn't care about the outcome of the court case. We never meet the victim, are never introduced to her, and everyone else is so underdeveloped that you are left with little emotion to the rest of the characters. (We meet her through the lawyer, so we don't actually get to know her) I will say, the book actually does show how charming the man could be, because I did actually find his chapters quite charming.

Now: the writing. I have issues with the writing to the point where I don't really know where to begin.

Issue 1: The perspectives. There are many different character perspectives in this, all of them in 3rd person, except the prosecuting lawyer, who was written in first person. In my opinion, this was a grave mistake. It felt EXTREMELY uncomfortable to read from this characters perspective. She spoke directly to the reader, and I mean directly. "Oh, I am in a bad mood. You can tell I am in a bad mood when I start talking like a high school politician." This is the narrator telling the reader something, and I did not like it, because it did not fit into this book. There is, straight up, and entire page later in the book where the narrator talks and talks about rape and how a woman never asks for rape. This is 100% true, and amazing social commentary, but it's being told to the audience by the narrator. She is not thinking it, or speaking it outloud, she is speaking to the audience. This is where I found the book got extremely preachy, it had great messages, but were just straight up told to us with really nothing else. It was kind of like if you watched a movie and it had really important messages and then all of a sudden the actor paused the movie and turned to the camera and looked directly into the camera and started telling you why what you were watching was important. It's not that it's wrong, it's just that it really messes with the flow of the movie. That's sort of what Kate's chapters were like to me when reading.

Issue 2: Diversity. Now, this is a story about women and really the only male character is the alleged rapist. But, Vaughan felt the need to be extra specific that there was some diversity. When learning about the jury members, which was done in passing and they are very unimportant and only mentioned like twice, she would always specifically state that the man was an "asian man" and that the man was a "black man" but never any other time. No "white man" in the audience, just man. Simply saying "the jury was filled with people with different races and genders" or something would have worked. There is an actual line, well I am quoting from an ARC so there may be changes in the final copy, that says "the jurors smile back at him and nod, these twelve good men, though seven of them were women." ................
I don't even know what to say to that? Like okay, there were 7 women and 5 men, but what's so hard about saying that. It's almost like she has to point out how it COULD have been all men, but she added diversity and put some women on the jury. I'm fairly certain it's against the law to have a jury of the same gender anyways. I just didn't mesh well to the way this book tried to include diversity.

Issue 3: Everything. This is a bit rough to say, but I didn't like any aspects of this story. Even the rape case itself was very poorly done in my opinion because the possibility of innocence is never offered to the readers. We HAVE to think he is guilty, because he IS guilty. But the reader would rather make that decision on their own when given all the information, than be told what to believe. That was a hard aspect for me to deal with, and is a lot of the criticism I had. I wrote in this book, my first time ever doing this. I wrote over and over again that there is little mention, while it's EXTREMELY rare, that men are sometimes wrongly accused of rape. I did understand as the book progressed why this decision was made on the authors part, but it didn't make me feel any better as a reader.

So I said up above I forgot to talk about this authors portrayal of Androgynous people, and god I can't believe I did. I actually had smoke coming out of my ears in this moment.
I am going to use exact quotes, but I am reading an ARC copy so my quotes may be changed/removed in the final edition

"She's sufficiently slim to pull off the androgynous, waif-like look, and it has desexualized her body."
Another instance:
"....her unnecessary sexiness fought until she became almost androgynous.."
Umm... implying that androgynous people are not sexy is not really very body positive/female positive at all. Like what's the point of this entire sentence. My favourite model is Rain Dove and they are androgynous and they literally fight all the time for androgynous people to still be seen as sexy.
The character literally uses this to tell us how her client, the victim, is appearing in court. This implies that the author thinks androgynous people won't be raped, and that they aren't sexy. I just can't with this.

I'm going to end this by saying that sometimes you can read a story and absolutely just not care about the way the book is written. I think, for many, this will be one of those cases. Unfortunately I found the book itself got way too much in the way for me to enjoy the story. I don't personally recommend it at all, but I also do respect others decisions to read this, and can respect people that ignored it's flaws and chose to look at just the things the book was trying to say.
Profile Image for Esil.
1,118 reviews1,340 followers
December 15, 2017
A high 4 stars!

So incredibly timely... Sarah Vaughan may have been prescient when she decided to write Anatomy of a Scandal, but this book sure resonates with the MeToo surge of focus on sexual assault and harassment, especially involving men abusing positions of power.

But no one should be deterred from reading this one for fear that it's an easy attempt to cash in on a hot topic or for fear that it's violent or graphically exploitative of the topic. On the contrary... Vaughan took care in writing this well crafted story. Part of the story takes place at Oxford in the mid 1990s and part of it takes place today in London. It's not really a mystery or a thriller, but there are elements best discovered as you read, so I don't want to say too much about the story. But I will say that it focuses on the triangular dynamics between a very privileged man, his protective wife and the women he sees as being at his disposal. The dynamics are depicted as they existed in the 1990s and again as they are replicated today. Vaughan gets into everyone's head, not making excuses but exploring the arrogance and denial that come with privilege, and the twisted guilt and uncertainty that can come with being a victim. Vaughan is a strong engaging writer. Highly recommended, and again there's no need to worry about graphic violence. Thanks to Netgalley and the publisher for an opportunity to read an advance copy.
January 9, 2018
I started off lost in the prickly, weedy dark craggy coulee with four of my Traveling Sisters reading Anatomy of a Scandal with only one of us staying in this coulee and the rest of us leaving to find a grassy spot to take a nap.

Anatomy of a Scandal is a slow-burning, intelligent legal thriller that explores a scandal amongst the privileged and the women involved. For most of us, we struggled with this one grabbing our attention from the start and had to fight the urge to crawl into a nice grassy spot and have a nap. As we started to doze off Sarah Vaughan caught our attention with a very clever twist however the legal procedure weighed the story down for us and we gave in and drifted off in our grassy spot.

For most of us, we needed a faster more action-packed thriller to keep our attention and to keep us engaged enough to really appreciate this story. We recommend to readers who like legal thrillers.

Thank you to NetGalley, Atria Books and Sarah Vaughan for a copy of this novel in exchange for an honest review.

Traveling Sisters Review also can be found on our sister blog:
Profile Image for Dem.
1,186 reviews1,098 followers
October 9, 2018
A solid, gripping and edgy thriller that is well written and very thought provoking.

Part courtroom drama and part exportation of a marriage, this is a book that is intelligent and tightly plotted and was chosen as our sit in book club read for the month and I think it will make quite an interesting discussion book.

I liked the court room drama in this one and it appeared well researched and well executed. Characters were complex and entertaining. I enjoyed the format of the book each chapter told from a a different characters prospective which made this one easy reading and kept me interested. I really liked the read but I did find it drifted at times and became a little tedious in places, a book that dragged a little and yet the twists and turns were entertaining and the ending well done.

My rating changed a few times and I couldnt quite decide on 3.5 or 4 stars for this one but I did enjoy the read, have strong opinions on the story and it is a book I will remember a year from now so it deserves its 4 stars.
Profile Image for Debra .
2,296 reviews35k followers
December 30, 2018

Sophie is married to James who is a handsome, charming, confident politician, who she also describes as a wonderful father. Sophie's world is turned upside when the woman her husband has been having an affair with accuses him of rape. Sophie is shocked, hurt, angry, sad, humiliated and heartbroken. She believes he is capable of lying to her and having an affair, but rape? Could her husband have raped a woman? Could she be living with a rapist? James denies all charges against him. How can Sophie keep her family together? How can she sit in a courtroom and hear the testimony? She is encouraged to stay with her husband, stand by him, show support and be understanding.

Kate is the lawyer hired to prosecute the case. She is certain that James is guilty. She wants the truth and wants to expose his lies and see him convicted. On the outside she seems to have it all together. To outsiders she appears to be a polished confident woman (which she is) but she also has a secret. She wants justice for her client and desperately wants to see James punished but how will this case affect her personally?

The story-line is told in the present and in the past when Sophie and James were students at Oxford. We are given a glimpse into their lives and the beginning of their relationship. While Sophie is looking back, she also remembers her tutorial partner, Holly. Why did Holly leave school so abruptly? Where has she been all this time and why is Sophie thinking of her now after all this time?

The POV chapters were very effective at getting the reader in the characters head. My only complaint is the book is slow moving at times. I wanted it to hurry up just a little in parts. Keep in mind that there is not a lot of action in this book. As other reviewers have mentioned, this is a character study.

There are a lot of secrets and lies in this book. But who has secrets? Who is lying? Why? I enjoyed how the story was told through the past and present story-lines. As both timelines are told, revelations are made which are not entirely shocking but worked very well. I found this book to be thought provoking and will often have the reader wondering what he or she would do in this circumstance. Would you stand by your spouse when he/she has been accused of a heinous crime? Do you believe them?

Even with some slow parts, I found this to be an enjoyable tale about infidelity, power, lies, secrets, trauma, rape, deception and the law. It's a very timely and relevant tale.
Profile Image for Mary.
1,474 reviews496 followers
January 4, 2018
⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ / 5

My reviews and (maybe) some other random thoughts can also be seen at


Anatomy of a Scandal is another one of those books that is rather hard for me to review. While I did like the book, I found myself wanting to skim a few times. The writing was impeccable, and you can tell that Sarah Vaughan really knows her stuff (I can't even imagine how much research she had to put into this book for all the legal jargon alone). However, this read was a bit procedural for me. It's definitely a slow burn, character-driven plot, so don't expect intense thrills and chills. However, it was done well and held my attention fairly well. It is also very in line with the current times, and is the perfect contemporary novel.

The novel is set in London and all the terms for the legal system (among other things) over there took me a bit to get used to. For instance, I had to figure out what a parliamentary researcher is. I have to admit I am very in the dark when it comes to how other countries work. That is me though, and in no way affects how I felt about this novel. I was just continually impressed with how much detail Vaughan went into.

It had a very TV courtroom drama vibe to it, only with lots of backstory (as I said, it is very character driven). I felt that the characters were all very well fleshed out and you really get to know most of them as the story pans out. I also liked seeing how Sophie ended up growing as a person and Kate started to really come into her own.

Anatomy of a Scandal does switch between a few different points of view throughout the book. At first it was just Sophie, Kate, and James; but then you also get introduced to the viewpoints of Holly and Ali (Kate's friend). I'm a sucker for multiple POV's, I just don't like when there are too many and they get confusing. I didn't have any of that confusion with the 5 viewpoints; plus Ali and Holly aren't mentioned as often as the rest.

I also liked that the novel switches between time periods as well as viewpoints. The novel jumps between past and present which was very intriguing (and helpful for character development). I liked that it was how we got the story of Holly, and James' and Tom's big connection.

Unlike a few other reviewers, I didn't mind how the novel ended. I don't think it was tied up that neatly, and it didn't feel any more detailed/procedural from the rest of the book. I also liked that even though this was a very serious subject matter, there were still a couple funny lines in this book. I always think it's nice when an author can incorporate some sort of humor into a very heavy book.

Final Thought: I really don't want to say anything else about the plot, but there were a couple of surprises that threw me a bit. Overall the book was just a bit too procedural for me, and was a little slow, but I couldn't give it any less than a 4/5 because of how well it is written. If you like slow burning, character driven novels then you should definitely check this out. It kind of reads like a courtroom drama at times, which I actually kind of liked even though I don't actually watch those shows. I will definitely be willing to check out more from Vaughn as well.

*This book is set to be published on 23 Jan 2018*

*HUGE thanks to Atria Books for providing me with an electronic ARC of this book via NetGalley. My review is completely honest and unbiased*
Profile Image for Barbara.
1,347 reviews4,863 followers
October 28, 2021

James Whitehouse seems to have it all. He grew up privileged, went to school at Eton and Oxford, and is now a junior government minister with a promising future.

James has a beautiful wife, Sophie, and two sweet children, Emily and Toby - whom he dotes on.

For her part, Sophie adores her husband - a tall, handsome, charismatic man who still makes her heart flutter after twelve years of marriage.

Unfortunately, a costly mistake is about to shatter James' world.

James was a 'player' in his youth, and Oxford University was a particularly rich playground. James and Sophie became a couple at college, but James still hooked up with other co-eds all the time - thinking it was his natural right.

James and Sophie broke up for other reasons, but met again seven years later - and got married. Once he wed, James made up his mind to be a faithful husband and good father - and he stuck to his pledge for a long time.....until five months ago.

At that time James started an affair with his parliamentary researcher, Olivia Lytton - a lithe, blonde, beautiful 28-year-old.

The affair began almost accidentally, but escalated to the point where James and Olivia shared a hotel room at a Tory party conference. James broke off the liaison soon afterward, leaving Olivia bereft and heartbroken. Nevertheless, a week or so later James and Olivia had one last romp in an elevator in Parliament - an equivocal incident that Olivia now views as rape. The authorities agree with her, and James is put on trial.

The story is told from the rotating points of view of several of the main characters, including James, his wife Sophie, and QC Kate Woodcroft, who's prosecuting the case.

The story also has flashbacks to the early 1990s, when James and other characters were students at Oxford.

In the present, Sophie is crushed by her husband's perfidy. But she's a political wife, and feels pressured to put the best face on things. Sophie talks about her raw emotions, her concerns about her children, her belief in James' innocence, and the terrible impact the trial has on her. She also remembers back when she was a co-ed in college, where she was a rower with high hopes for her future.

QC Kate is thrilled to have such a high profile case to prosecute. The lawyer is divorced with no children, and devotes most of her time to work. Socially, Kate likes to visit with her best friend Ali, and has the occasional tryst with Richard, her married former pupil-master.

Kate believes that Olivia was raped, and badly wants James to be found guilty. She's aware, though, that a jury will be reluctant to convict a respected government official - especially one as good-looking and charming as James. Thus, Kate's quite anxious about the trial.

For his part, James feels guilty about the affair with Olivia, and wants to make things right with his wife. Assuming he gets exonerated of the rape charge, James thinks he can survive the scandal and rehabilitate his career. That's because James is best friends with the current Prime Minister, Tom Southern.

James and Tom met at Eton, and attended Oxford together. There they belonged to an elite dining club called The Libertines, who were renowned for their bad behavior.....generally smoothed over with large handfuls of cash.

In 1993, an unfortunate incident at Oxford left Tom in James' debt. In fact, Tom owes James big time!

The book is largely a character study, showing how people are molded by their life experiences - and how they react to a humiliating public scandal. James' trial and its aftermath are compelling, and I was curious to see the ramifications for everyone involved. I'm not a proponent of 'stand by your man no matter what', so I especially wanted to find out what Sophie does. I won't say any more because of spoilers.

The storyline seems quite realistic, since sexual peccadilloes among prominent men are a dime a dozen. Just off the top of my head: Bill Clinton, David Petraeus, Eliot Spitzer, Gary Condit, John Edwards, Mark Sanford, Anthony Weiner, Matt Lauer, Jeffrey Epstein, Harvey Weinstein.....and fictional Peter Florrick (The Good Wife) and Fitzgerald Grant (Scandal). On that note - except for the addition of the alleged rape - the story in 'Anatomy of a Scandal' isn't that original.

It might be an intriguing change to see a book about an unfaithful woman Prime Minister (or whatever) whose husband has to 'stand by his gal.' (LOL) Still, this type of gossipy tale is always engaging and - for the most part - I enjoyed the book.

On the downside the characters inner musings are excessive, and there's too much minutiae in each of their narratives....too much description of every little thing they say and do. This slowed down the story and made me impatient to get on with the action.

All in all, this is a good suspense novel, and I'd recommend it to fans of that genre.

Thanks to Netgalley, the author (Sarah Vaughan), and the publisher (Atria/Emily Bestler Books) for a copy of the book.

You can follow my reviews at https://reviewsbybarbsaffer.blogspot....
Profile Image for Zoe.
1,828 reviews174 followers
August 25, 2017
Intricate, dark, and compelling!

Anatomy of a Scandal is a gripping tale that reminds us that justice may not always be blind in the face of privilege, politics, charisma, and power and that rape has devastating and enduring emotional and psychological effects on its victims.

The story is told from differing perspectives; James, a handsome, entitled politician accused of a heinous crime; Sophie, a dependable, intelligent wife who believes in her husband's innocence; and Kate the tough, tenacious barrister who wholeheartedly knows he's guilty.

The characters are multilayered and well developed with some wounded and resilient and others ostentatious, arrogant, and callous. And the plot uses a past/present, back-and-forth style to create tension and suspense as it subtly unravels the personalities, motivations, and histories of all those within it.

Anatomy of a Scandal is ultimately a novel about marriage, over indulgence, consent, scandal, revenge, deception, adultery, social status, rape, and the British legal system and is certainly an excellent, highly entertaining debut for Vaughan.

Thank you to Atria Books for providing me with a copy in exchange for an honest review.

All my reviews can be found on my blog at http://whatsbetterthanbooks.com
Profile Image for Bianca.
1,048 reviews903 followers
January 11, 2018
Anatomy of a Scandal was an excellent read - timely, gutsy and nuanced.

Who's Sarah Vaughan and why has she escaped my attention?

I've seen mixed reviews of this novel, so I wasn't sure what to expect, but I was curious enough to request it. There was some sort of mix up with the approval/archiving date, so the kind people at Simon & Schuster Australia sent me the printed book. Lucky me.

The first impression was very good: great title, stunning cover (I loved its textured feel as well). I was eager to see how the writing measured up.

I was taken with the writing from the very beginning. To be honest, I'm perplexed by how much attention I paid to the writing, probably because I didn't expect it to be of such high quality? The sentences were so crisp, the descriptions were vivid without being cumbersome. Where Vaughan excelled though was in creating complex characters, exposing human contradictions and the lies we tell ourselves. Male vs female psychology, privilege and entitlement play an important role in this novel. Vaughan has taken on a very delicate subject, one, I dare say, many of us struggle with, in one way or another: sometimes consent and the lack of can sit next to each other, balancing vicariously on a very thin line.

As others have pointed out, this is a very contemporary novel, extremely so.
I'm trying to think critically and not be all gushy, but I can't come up with anything.

Oh, there is something! In my non-expert view, this is not a thriller, albeit it was labelled as a psychological thriller. I was slightly apprehensive about the thriller labelling. Some of the classic thriller fans will probably be put off by the lack of action/full on crime and gore. The publishers got the psychological part right and I dare say it excels at it.

I was impressed and I'm very keen to read more by Sarah Vaughan.

Again, many thanks to Simon & Schuster Australia for sending me a copy of this novel.
Profile Image for Carrie.
3,163 reviews1,519 followers
January 9, 2018
First I would like to warn that Anatomy of a Scandal by Sarah Vaughan is a legal thriller that centers around rape so for those that are sensitive to the subject you may want to give this one a pass as there are a few scenes in which it will be described.

The story is told from multiple points of view and also by alternating between current day and by going back into past events when key characters were in college and the events that happened then. This would be one read that I can say that with all the switching it stilled flowed rather nicely and was easy to follow along with the story.

What we have in this book is a very high profile case being tried and all of the participants and their ties to one another. I would say one thing that gave me pause with this story was hearing the details of the rape case being tried. I couldn’t help but think to myself that I really didn’t see the case ever making it to court. Now the book does give some reasoning to why it might but I still was a bit iffy on if it was believable or not to center around those particular details. Rape is a very he said/she said crime and very hard to convict with often bringing in a lot of victim shaming/blaming and having read the statistics before I had wished the case had any different kind of set up.

However, even with my doubts of the believable nature of the setting of the crime and it making it to court I still decided to keep an open mind of the rest of the book. With the ease of engaging myself into the characters and their stories I really did like the twists and turns and how the story turned out overall and would rate this one at 3.5 stars. Sarah Vaughan turned into an author that I’d definitely pick up something else from again in the future with this legal thriller keeping my attention to the very end.

I received an advance copy from the publisher via NetGalley.

For more reviews please visit https://carriesbookreviews.wordpress....
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