Anatomy of a Scandal – Review

Thank you to Netgalley and Atria/Emily Bestler Books for allowing a copy of this novel for review. 


It’s all we hear of lately in the news, a dirty word, a word that makes us dig deep and examine how we feel about the people committing the act, and the victims left behind. Rape. It’s a nasty topic, but one we’ve become all too familiar with, this year especially. Anatomy of a Scandal dives into the world of the elite, the powerhouses and the political machine of Britain. Much like America, we often wonder if these people of the upper crust are held to the same standards as the rest of us middle-class folk and below.

When James Whitehouse is accused of rape by his scorned lover, those closest to him are left reeling, wondering if he actually committed the crime or if it’s a woman’s act of retaliation. His wife, Sophie, is desperate to protect the life she holds dear and keep her children from knowing of their father’s sordid secrets. Kate is hired to prosecute and she is hell-bent on bringing justice to victimized women. Two women with opposing desires are determined to fight for what they deem is right, but the only winner may be the charismatic man accused.

Sarah Vaughan’s ability to bring characters to life was one of the most impressive aspects of her debut novel. She was able to make me evaluate each character and understand them, even if I didn’t like them. From the get-go I hated James. He was a dirty, rotten pig of a man, whether he was guilty of the crime he was accused of or not. I loathed him so much, I didn’t know if I would be able to continue reading the story. Honestly, I felt like throwing in the towel. He simply felt too realistic. But, I kept reading because of the raving reviews. Then we get to Sophie, James’ wife’s perspective, and I’m still not convinced I wanted to stick this one out. It was a shame to me that she was able to stand by a cheater for the sake of her appearance and children, but a part of me understood her viewpoint as a mother myself. Then we get to hard-ass Kate, and I’m invested. Kate was a woman after my own heart. She was the barrister all in the profession should strive to be, a true champion of justice. She wants the rapist locked away and his balls in her pocket. Go girl!

With the alternating perspectives and looks into the pasts of the characters, I was reeled in more and more until I was unable to put this novel down. There were some interesting twists and turns, some punches to the gut, and an incredibly realistic courtroom setting, though I feel a tad let down. I expected to be kept on the edge of my seat – this book is described as suspenseful after all, but fell flat in that category for me. The beginning of this story was slow and I wasn’t hooked until I learned more about Kate. I found the repetition of the same facts for the case slightly tedious, which allowed my mind to roam instead of focusing on the plot.

I think my intense dislike of James from the start kept me from enjoying this novel as much as I should have or hoped to. While I loved Kate, and sometimes understood Sophie, they were not enough to make me rate this novel higher. I found myself eager to finish it, rather than savoring the story. Sarah Vaughan shows great ability as a writer and storyteller for her introductory novel, but lacked in pacing the story to keep my attention as a reader. Overall, it was a decent read, but not nearly as great as I expected. However, I do think this story would make an excellent movie. I can almost see it in my head better on screen than in book form. Give this one a try upon its release on January 23rd, unless the constant subject of rape is a trigger, and see which side you stand on. Anatomy of a Scandal will definitely keep your brain churning.

Purchase on Amazon!


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