Jennifer (JC-S)'s Reviews > The Accusation

The Accusation by Wendy James
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‘Everything added up – but not to the truth.’

Near the town of Enfield Wash in New South Wales, eighteen-year-old Ellie Canning is found unconscious by a local farmer in a disused shepherd’s hut on his property. After she regained consciousness, she told the police that she had sought shelter in the hut after escaping from a nearby farmhouse. Ellie Canning claimed that she’d been abducted by a middle-aged woman and chained to a bed in a basement for a month. The woman, Ellie said, had a crazy old mother. The woman, Ellie said, had given her drinks from an old baby’s sippy cup.
Who was this woman, and why did she abduct Ellie?

Local high school teacher Suzannah Wells is accused of abducting Ellie. While she claims never to have seen Ellie before, the evidence seems to point to her guilt. Suzannah’s mother, Mary, has dementia, Suzannah’s house has a basement, and Ellie’s DNA is everywhere. Suzannah loses her job and most of her friends, especially after stories from the past emerge. Few people believe that she is innocent.

Ellie becomes a social media star. Everyone is interested in her story. But what really happened?

I picked this and found it hard to put down. Was Suzannah innocent or guilty? What role (if any) had Mary played? Could Ellie be mistaken? If Suzannah was innocent, why was Ellie’s DNA in her house? The evidence against Suzannah grows, public opinion is firmly against her. The only person who seems to believe Suzannah is her lover Chip.

The story unfolds over a period of about 12 months and is told from the perspectives of Suzannah and Honor Fielding, the celebrity PR agent who is Suzannah’s neighbour, was Suzannah’s friend and is now Ellie’s agent. There are also excerpts from a documentary prepared about the case.
Who is telling the truth? And why, before the case is heard, is everyone so quick to condemn Suzannah?
What role has the media played?

This novel is Ms James’s contemporary revisiting of the Canning Affair, an eighteenth-century criminal case and cause célèbre, which is also the subject of Josephine Tey’s novel ‘The Franchise Affair’. It’s a novel which makes the reader think about the power of the media and of how easy it can be to shape public opinion.

Highly recommended.

Note: My thanks to NetGalley and HarperCollins Publishers Australia for providing me with a free electronic copy of this book for review purposes.

Jennifer Cameron-Smith
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Reading Progress

May 12, 2019 – Started Reading
May 12, 2019 – Shelved
May 12, 2019 – Shelved as: net-galley
May 12, 2019 – Shelved as: review-books
May 12, 2019 – Shelved as: australian-author
May 12, 2019 – Shelved as: australian-womens-writers-challenge
May 12, 2019 –
46.0%
May 12, 2019 –
46.0%
May 14, 2019 –
80.0%
May 15, 2019 – Finished Reading

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