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What Red Was

3.72  ·  Rating details ·  1,696 ratings  ·  208 reviews
When Kate Quaile meets Max Rippon in the first week of university, a life-changing friendship begins. Over the next four years, the two become inseparable. For him, she breaks her solitude; for her, he leaves his busy circles behind. But knowing Max means knowing his family: the wealthy Rippons, all generosity, social ease, and quiet repression. Theirs is a very different ...more
Hardcover, 304 pages
Published May 9th 2019 by Harvill Secker
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Kathleen I didn’t either. Too slow moving and boring.

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Average rating 3.72  · 
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 ·  1,696 ratings  ·  208 reviews

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Sep 18, 2019 rated it it was ok
An exploration of how a traumatic assault can spurn disquieting reverberations through a small group of acquaintances

First the good: This book did a respectable job of unpacking the feelings, emotions, and behaviors that can manifest after a rape. The assault scene was described in detail, so please take heed if that is something that might be a trigger. Kate, our heroine, goes through emotional phases as she tries to come to terms with what will now always be described as 'before the rape'
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Nov 12, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
4.5 stars

"That was when she closed her eyes. That was the moment at which she shut off her mind, leaving her body to him. Locked out, shut down." -- page 82

Price's What Red Was takes a horrific or harrowing subject matter - in this instance, acquaintance sexual assault - and expands beyond the focus of just the victim and the assailant. Populating this story with a host of believable, or at least recognizable, British characters gave it a shot of gravitas.

There is a core quartet within the
Anna Luce
4 stars

What Red Was is a stark and riveting debut novel that vividly depicts the lasting effects of rape on a young woman's mind, body, and life. This is not for the 'faint of heart', and I am not writing this as some sort of snide but more of a 'heads-up' since this novel portrays rape and trauma in an unflinchingly way. At times I was overwhelmed. The story will make you angry, sad, distressed, experience all the sort of emotions you should feel when reading about such a horrific act.
Roman Clodia
He had always thought he would be able to recognise a man capable of rape... he had never thought that a handsome man would need to rape anyone.

Joining other recent books that have broken the silence around rape, non-consent and trauma, I applaud the intentions of this book but have to say that it's quite chaotic and messy as a novel. It feels unfocused, too much time spent on the family soap opera which ends up being the foreground rather than the context: as a result, the rape is almost
[trigger warning for sexual assault] I think this is a very interesting, very uneven book. What Red Was follows Kate and Max, two friends who meet during the first week of university and become inseparable. They come from very different backgrounds - Kate is from a poor single-parent household and Max's family is large and affluent - and after they graduate university, Kate's life is shattered when she's raped during a party at Max's family home.

From reading this book's summary and seeing its
Apr 05, 2019 rated it liked it
Shelves: fiction, netgalley
2.5 rounded up

I'm struggling with how to review What Red Was - there are moments where it feels like a well-handled depiction of how one young woman deals with the aftermath of rape, and at others it feels like a bit of a drawn out and confused narrative lacking nuance, where the characters are kept at a distance (which is probably due to the style of writing). Yet something kept me reading, so if it sounds vaguely up your street I'd probably recommend checking it out.

Thank you Netgalley and
I thought the author did a great job handling all the emotions and unforeseen life impacts that can linger after a sexual assault.
The side character's unrelated stories pulled focus though, and I think this could have been better had she stayed centered on Kate.
***Free copy received from Goodreads giveaway***
May 31, 2019 rated it it was ok
You're telling me.

Too much tell and not enough show in this coolly recounted debut by young new author Rosie Price.

Covering the hot topics of an ambiguous rape and the resultant cutting, the victim drip-feeds the name of her known assailant in such a dispassionate style that it's hard to care. There's a confusing cast of characters and I found myself skipping increasingly large chunks.

In Room 101 of a novel-writing course, I believe this yawn-fest would have been called out by the tutor and
Callum McLaughlin
Jul 20, 2019 rated it really liked it
This nuanced exploration of sexual assault and the resulting trauma manages to completely avoid the trap of salaciousness. It is in this understated and honest approach that the book’s true power lies. The story begins by showing the wonderful friendship that blossoms between Kate and Max throughout their years at university and beyond. The two are inseparable and unwaveringly honest with each other. When Kate is raped at a party by someone in Max’s inner circle, however, she must face not only ...more
Jun 17, 2019 rated it really liked it
Boy meets girl. In a lot of situations, this leads to love but not here. Instead, we have a searing look at unusual friendships, sexual assault and societies classes. For university student Kate life is one that is unremarkable as a disadvantaged and naive person when she meets by accident fellow student Max. He is seemingly the complete opposite of Kate as part of a wealthy family and with charisma to burn. Kate is prepared to embrace Max and his family with everything she's got, even if it ...more
Aug 14, 2019 rated it liked it
This book left me feeling very “meh”.

Even though I think books about rape and non-consensual sex are super important, that does not mean that they can get away with e.g. subpar writing in my opinion. The story is told from multiple points of view, but there are too many, which makes the writing style feel very messy. I was also very confused at the beginning by the various points of view, because at that point it was not at all clear why the reader should be interested in learning more about
Dec 04, 2019 rated it liked it
Shelves: ebooksiown
Max and Katie are best friends and room-mates but when one of his family members hurts her sexually, Kate begins to withdraw from him. Will she survive? Read on and find out for yourself.

This is the only 3 star book I am reviewing with this rating. I thought the book was good and sad but I didn't like the sex scenes or its whole focus on the rape which is what the book is about. I totally skip over these scenes because if I don't, it makes me disgusted and sick to my stomach because I do not
Apr 09, 2019 rated it liked it
What Red Was documents the friendship of Kate and Max - two students at university who strike up and extremely close friendship and are inseparable. But when Kate attends a gathering at Max’s stately home, she is raped upstairs by his cousin. This changed Kate who goes through complete emotional turmoil and trauma and begins to distance herself from Max, whilst never letting him know who did this to her.

The book executed sexual assault very well although I would say it could be extremely
Aug 09, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: sent-arcs
Thank you to Penguin Random House Canada for providing me an ARC in exchange for an honest review.

4.75 stars

This is by far the best contemporary YA novel I have read is YEARS. This debut from Rosie Price is an absolute must read. The themes in this story are so necessary and so well portrayed. The focus of this book is trauma in many different forms. The main trauma is sexual assault and what the aftermath of the trauma does to a person, their lives, and the lives of those around them. Loss in
Chris Roberts
May 08, 2019 rated it did not like it
Life is tentative, predatory.

Absent genetics,
a mother owes her child absolutely nothing,
the daughter owes her mother not one glance backward.

Thus indulged, thus is reality:
A manufactured state ("mid-life crisis"),
created for and by men,
with a mind towards,
screwing every young woman in sight.

Oct 28, 2019 rated it did not like it
ugh, awful. So little about the trauma and so much about the weird family
Deece de Paor
Jun 15, 2019 rated it liked it
This book started off so strong - but fell apart half way through because of the somewhat 2d characters and very loose plot. There were maybe too many characters and none were well rounded or drawn out properly. So where did it all go wrong?
I think the problem was that once the rape happened, and the protagonist’s despair became the driving force, the plot became a bit pointless and meandering and none of the other characters had good enough subplots going to keep the story interesting.
Oct 14, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This novel is very reminiscent of Normal People by Sally Rooney in that it is also very introspective. The reader is privy to everything Kate experiences emotionally, psychologically and physically as a result of being raped. Every bit of it was 100% believable. The author demonstrates the immediate effects of rape but also the effects that it can have over the course of a woman’s entire life. It’s heartbreaking and terrifying and infuriating.

The writing style is not poetic or flowery. It’s very
It’s hard to review a book that handles the trauma of rape, both the act and it’s aftermath. I think this book is done very well, and although it has a few structural issues, there is an undeniable power within the intent and the quality of the author’s approach.
If I had one note, I would say that I wish the novel had been told only from Kate and Max’s point of view. Other perspectives are offered from various side characters throughout the novel, and I don’t think this added to the purpose of
Oct 17, 2019 rated it liked it
I struggled through this book. I wasn't a fan of the writing style to be honest. It wasn't as engaging as I hoped it would be. I think perhaps writing in the first person from Kate's point of view would have helped. Or even alternating chapters with different characters. The style was a little stand offish, in my opinion, for the subject matter.

That being said, I do think this story had potential. I definitely think we need more reading material on this subject that shows the different ways it
Jan 12, 2020 rated it liked it
Conflicted feelings with this one. Maybe a review to follow...
When it is hot as heck outside and there is nothing cool to do but reading as everything else makes you end up a sweaty mess, it is the perfect day for a speed reader.
I received a temporary digital Advance Reader Copy of this book from #NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.
From the publisher, as I do not repeat the contents or story of books in reviews, I let them do it as they do it better than I do .

When Kate Quaile meets Max Rippon in the first week of university, so begins a
Sandra "Jeanz"
Feb 22, 2019 rated it liked it
Shelves: netgalley, 2019
I don’t really know why but I thought that this book was YA, until I began reading it and I discovered that the genre listings were general adult fiction and literary fiction. I think I had read that the characters were at university and just presumed that would make the book YA or NA. The cover of the book is bold and has the title depicted in red and white. Had the book been a paperback version on a book store shelf I honestly would not have picked it up as I have a medical condition
Kelly Hoggons (Velvet Library)
This was the most difficult book I've read this year. But in the end, the payoff far exceeded the pain. It's been three months since I finished it, and I still can't put my thoughts into words that will do this masterpiece justice. But I'll try.

My main issue with literary fiction is that I often find authors spend so much time showing you how ~intellectual~ they are, that they forget to make you feel something. This made me feel a lot. Where to start with the trigger warnings... Rape, PTSD,
Shalini | Book Rambler
May 01, 2019 rated it liked it
Shelves: adult
What Red Was was a difficult read, to say the least. For starters, I'd like to warn you of a rape scene and self-harm.

The story starts off with telling us about Kate and Max's friendship. While they were at university, Kate was attending a gathering at Max's family home and this is also where Kate is raped by his cousin. Kate doesn't tell anyone about her rape for a long time and What Red Was shows us the aftermaths of (her) rape.

(view spoiler)
Apr 29, 2019 rated it liked it
Shelves: fiction, arc, read-2019
This is a study of trauma and its consequences reverberating throughout the life of young girl and those around her. It begins as a story of two young people from different backgrounds (Normal People and Little Life anyone?) but soon we really leave Max behind to concentrate on Kate as she deals with a rest of her life after she is raped. Her story is parallel with the one of Max's mother, Zara, who is a filmmaker and uses film as a medium for processing and dealing with her own rape. On one ...more
Karen Barber
Jun 06, 2019 rated it liked it
Shelves: netgalley
When we first meet Kate she’s starting university, and feeling rather isolated. She meets Max when he is locked out of his room after showering, and thus starts their friendship.
We follow them through ‘getting to know you’ chats, and a summer break, and watch as they draw closer to family. Their common bonds of languages and filmmaking keep them together. Then Kate is raped at one of Max’s parties, by his cousin. Slowly she withdraws, unable to share what has happened.
Kate’s experience is told
Angela N G
Jul 03, 2019 rated it it was ok
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Melanie Garrett
Apr 13, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Searing, relevant and beautifully judged. There is so much here to admire I hardly know where to start. The characters are so impeccably drawn it feels like I've been eavesdropping on them rather than reading about them. Everything here feels authentic. The relationships, dialogue, internal landscapes are all incredibly astute. Rosie Price displays so much insight into what makes people tick I can only assume she has somehow lived all of these lives herself. As a reading experience, What Red Was ...more
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Play Book Tag: What Red Was by Rosie Price 1 11 Sep 20, 2019 01:30PM  

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ROSIE PRICE grew up in Gloucestershire and then studied English at Cambridge. She worked for three years as an assistant at a literary agency before leaving to focus on her own writing. She lives in London.
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