Book Club: Anatomy of A Scandal

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Author: Sarah Vaughan
ISBN: 9781471165009
RRP: $29.99
Publisher: Simon & Schuster
Copy: Courtesy of the Publisher

Anatomy of A Scandal is the first of the January titles that went on the list and it is one that I am looking forward to reading.


Family holidays mean I have had very little time to read and even less to review so I am very far behind and not looking like catching up anytime soon; so I am still looking at short posts that our readers can leave their reviews on and I will review separately later.

Anatomy of a Scandal is the third book by Sarah Vaughan and it promises a taut and suspenseful tale of power and privilege.

A husband accused of a terrible crime is at the centre of a drama that will rock Westminster; his wife on one side determined to have faith in his innocence and the prosecutor on the other side equally as determined to see justice done.

Early reviews are making this one crawl closer to the top of the pile, but many are also a little spoilerish so I won’t go into it. This is a tale with multiple perspectives and multiple timelines which tells me there will also be some sneaky twists that pull things together.

Anatomy of a Scandal is quite topical at the moment with scandals rocking Hollywood and wreaking havoc on lives and careers. We are finally at a point where we, as a society, have decided that enough is enough. It doesn’t matter how rich, charming and good looking you are, it matters that you do the right thing by people.

I look forward to hearing what our readers have to say.

Sarah Vaughan can be found on her Website, Twitter and Facebook.

Anatomy of a Scandal is published by Simon & Schuster and is available through Angus & Robertson Bookworld, Booktopia and where all good books are sold.

Thanks to Simon & Schuster a selection of our Beauty and Lace Club members will be reading Anatomy of a Scandal so please be aware there may be spoilers in the comments below.

27 thoughts on “Book Club: Anatomy of A Scandal

  1. Anatomy of a Scandal starts at quite a slow pace, as the author sets the scene, timing and life context for each of the key characters and their relationships.

    True to the title, the beginning is a bit like an anatomy class as each of the characters is dissected in detail, and their role in the scandal gradually emerges. So as the story behind the scandal comes together we begin to see it in the context of multiple characters perspectives and prior histories. This gives some interesting clues and insights into the motivation of key people.

    The eventual fuller depiction of each of the characters is realistic – no cardboard cutout people here. Their various behaviours are well explained and we start to see each person with more depth – having good and bad traits, and (like all of us)sometimes being the victims of their own hangups and insecurities.

    There are also some interesting comments throughout the book about how peoples status and social position can put them into a privileged position which some take advantage of, others are oblivious to, and still others dedicate themselves to overcoming.

    On the whole an interesting read but, for me the build up to the main story was a tad too slow and labored. My attention started to wander, and I kept losing track of who was who and where things fitted in. Still once you become fully immersed in the story, it becomes quite compelling, and there are some very interesting twists along the way.

  2. This book tells the tale of a serious crime, a scandal of generous proportion and its protagonists.

    There are essentially four main characters whose lives are intricately interwoven, even though they are not all aware of it. A junior minister in the British parliament – a close friend of the Prime Minister – must face the accusation against him; his wife, who must deal with the humiliation and fallout while retaining her belief in his innocence; the barrister who prosecutes the case with vigour and a young student who attended Oxford at the same time as them all. The story deals with the horror, shame and the absolute determination to retain one’s reputation, regardless of the discrediting of another’s; how belief in oneself is destroyed or skews reality. It speaks loudly of entitlement in both youth and maturity.

    It is a carefully constructed tale, exceptionally well written and takes place over two time periods, two decades apart.

    When I started the book I was somewhat disappointed to find that the first chapter was written in the first person. I am not a lover of tales told that way, but I persisted and was suitably rewarded. In fact, the story is cleverly told in both the first and third person as well as in present and past tenses. The author’s intention is clear and person and tense denote time, place and character.

    The characters are well defined and the outcome not at all so obvious. The author makes liberal use of interrupted sentences and the language used is beautiful, emphasising again the upper class elements of the story – though perhaps not entirely intended. There is too, a decided lack of emotion, yet a further insight into the ‘stiff upper lip’ and affected composure of the upper classes.

    All in all, it is a compelling read.

  3. Anatomy of a Scandal by Sarah Vaughan. I loved the book. It is hard to review without giving anything away!
    Sophie is married to James, they have 2 children and a perfect upper class life. James is accused of a crime. Kate is the Lawyer hired by the prosecution, she is experienced and professional and knows the law is about winning the argument. Is James guilty, will Sophie stay by his side? And what secrets do they all have from their pasts? It is a suspenseful story with a twist.
    The book made me think how well do we know anyone!

  4. “Understated” was the word that came most to mind while reading this – the prose is understated, Vaughan takes an understated approach to subject matter that could be lurid, most of the characters are understated in their behaviour. Despite that, this is a very powerful novel.

    Kate is a barrister who specialises in prosecuting sexual offences, although the reasons for her burning desire to see justice done are not clear until some way into the novel. Within the first chapter she is handed a career making case: James Whitehouse, junior Minister, has recently been caught up in a sex scandal, and is now accused of rape.

    Sophie is James’ wife; shattered by the revelations of an affair, she is shaken to her core by the rape accusation. She must believe him innocent to protect her children; but she already knows that he has dark secrets and is not always truthful. Is that just the effect of being a Minister, or is it an indicator of his deepest nature?

    This is a fascinating novel that considers issues of consent, honesty, friendship, and marriage. Although the story is told primarily through Kate and Sophie’s eyes, we also get glimpses of others – Kate’s friend Alison, Holly, and James himself. The differing perspectives add depth and conviction to our exploration of the complex issues raised.

    I really enjoyed this sensitive and emotional exploration of a very real issue, seen through the prism of all too common scandal. Although it has strong elements of a courtroom drama – that’s a significant part of the novel – it’s also a relationship drama. The characters are believable and strongly drawn, and so are the events depicted.

    This is a great novel, well written and absorbing, and likely to stay in your memory for some time.

  5. Thankyou Beautyandlace and the publisher for the opportunity to review ‘Anatomy of a Scandal’ by Sarah Vaughn.
    The book begins in 2016 where divorcee Kate Woodcroft a QC Criminal barrister who specialises in London’s sexual crimes has just lost her case.
    She is offered a new case where a politician is accused of the rape of his parliamentary researcher.
    He is James Whitehouse a junior home minister, married to Sophie for 12 years. James is father to a nine year old daughter and six year old son, he is charming, handsome and endearing.
    As the plot develops the book switches back to 1992 where Sophie (an expert rower) begins a relationship with James. She has a research buddy at university Oxford, Holly, who is insignificant, new to the lifestyle and trying hard to fit in but is not in the same class as Sophie.
    Holly has made a friend, Alison who is a big support to her.
    Back to 2016 and Sophie a faithful wife to James finds it difficult to come to terms with James’s infidelity and struggles to accept what he has been accused of.

    An excellent read and a real mystery as there was no predicting the outcome, or the relationships within the book.

  6. The book Anatomy of a Scandal tells the story of a husband and wife who have their world turned upside down when the husband is accused of a crime.

    The book did start off a little slow and I do admit it took me a long time to really get into the book but once you hit the main scenario it is all gripping tales. Never really knowing the outcome did he do it? What happened in the past to sculpt the characters into the people they are today?

    The book was very good once you got past the slow start and definitely am recommending it to everyone i see.

  7. Thank you for selecting me to read Anatomy of a Scandal
    I thought the book was a bit slow at the beginning but a few chapters in I couldn’t put this book down
    The main characters are Sophie and James Whitehouse a couple who seem to have it all with their two children
    Their perfect life is turned upside down when James is accused of a terrible crime ( no spoilers )
    It was hard for me to decide if he was guilty or innocent at this stage of the book
    As the reader continues into the book more about James behaviour comes to light
    Was an interesting book to read especially reading about how the court room operates
    The ending was a surprise to me as I had my own thoughts as to James

  8. I must admit that when I started this book, I didn’t know if I would last the distance. The author was very descriptive in some parts – almost too descriptive for my taste, noting every crevice in a wall and each shape they made, etc (bad example, but you get the idea). It meant that by the time I had read the description I had to read back to remember what I was reading about in the first place!

    Thankfully this settled down after the first couple of chapters (or I settled in) and I delved into the lives of Kate, James, Sophie and Holly.

    I was certain that I had Holly’s story figured out and I was pleasantly shocked when her story was fully revealed and I was totally wrong!

    I enjoyed the book thoroughly after the early slow bit and am very glad I was patient enough to get deeper in and read the whole story. It was interesting to learn a little snippet of a courtroom and how people sometimes never get over fully what has happened to them a long time ago, especially when history is seen to be repeating itself.

    Thank you for letting me take part! A great read!

  9. Anatomy of a Scandal by Sarah Vaughan is a courtroom drama, told from multiple points of view and goes across timelines. This made reading a little challenging in the beginning, however it wasn’t long before the scandal unravels and I was intrigued by the case and what direction it was taking. The main characters are those who are affected by James and the implications of his infidelity.

    James who is an Oxford graduate is charming and a successful Junior Government Minster. He and his loyal wife Sophie have two young children. They live a life of social privilege and prestige with everything on the surface seemingly rosy. So when news breaks out that James has had an affair, then is being accused of rape; what other lies or truths will unfold?

    This book touches on themes of drugs, rape, lies and power. Probably not for the faint hearted but a riveting read none the less.

    Thank you Beauty and Lace Book Club and Simon & Schuster Australia for this reading opportunity.

  10. The plot of ‘Anatomy of a Scandal’ is quite a lot darker than I expected from the synopsis. Sarah Vaughan writes about the central event (I won’t give it away but it is so topical at the moment) in such a realistic way it struck a nerve with me even though I have never experienced it myself. You would almost think she has experienced herself although she says she hasn’t. The story does drag on a little so the most interesting part of this book for me is the description of Oxford University. It’s somewhere people dream to experience (well I do anyway) and not many people have the priviledge. So it’s fantastic that she actually went there herself which means you really get an insider view and can put yourself there as you read the vivid imagery Sarah Vaughan weaves.

  11. Anatomy of a scandal is a story that is centered around a court case that is told from different characters points of views. This can be confusing and at times I did have to go back and check the character’s chapter and also the year as the story tends to go back and forwards from past to present. This book does start off slow and it did take me awhile to get into. I found the further I got into the book the more I began to enjoy it and also not want to put it down. Without giving too much away, the author does a great job at writing about a ‘topical’ subject and showing how these events can change and affect so many peoples lives. Once I got to know each of the characters I liked how the story did change from different character perspectives and you do find that you do enjoy getting to know the characters throughout the story.

    This book does focus on dark scandals, as mentioned above, such as rape, drugs, power and at times can be quiet confronting, especially if you can connect with any of these themes.

    I found this book an easy read, a great book to read over summer when relaxing by the pool or each night before bed.

    Thank you Beauty and Lace Book Club and Simon & Schuster Australia for this reading opportunity.

  12. Kate Woodcroft is a criminal barrister specialising is sex crimes. She likes to think that she stays detached from the cases that she handles but when she is given the case of a high profile politician accused of rape she cannot help but become totally consumed.

    Anatomy of a Scandal is a character driven story of privilege and power. The story jumps back and forward in time filling in more details as the plot progresses. Told in multiple POV’s the puzzle is slowly pieced together giving more insight into each characters motivations.

    My reading time is full of interruption so I found it hard to really get into the story. It focuses heavily on character development and as I guessed the twist quite early in the book I got easily bored and was constantly sidetracked.

    Maybe another day, another time I would think this book brilliant and I can see why some gave it great reviews but I couldn’t get into the story. It was difficult to read due to the multiple date changes and the number of POV’s.

    Anatomy of a Scandal is powerful and thought provoking; a timely story that I am sure will be a huge success.

    Content: frequent coarse language, rape, drug use.

  13. Anatomy of a Scandal is a well written book centred around a case that Kate Woodcroft is prosecuting.

    Jumping between characters and different periods of time, the author was able to allow the reader insight into what drives each character and gain an appreciation for their actions.

    An enjoyable and easy read, looking forward to reading more from Sarah Vaughan.

  14. I bought this book on the basis of the reviews I reading I was not disappointed!

    The stories of Kate and Sophie make for compelling reading and the mystery of what happened all those years ago and the crime that happens now and linked in ways we cannot imagine.

    The characters are so true to life – the thoughts and reactions ring so true and the intersection with James is intriguing!

    Highly recommended!

  15. I really thought I would like this book, it ticked all the boxes for me, but for some reason I failed to get in to this one, but I think it may be as it is a bit close to some things in my own life, so I put it down in the middle section. The book is dramatically written, and clever as it is easy to read by weaves characters and some more complex story lines together. I see from the other reviews that I am in a minority and so don’t be put off, it must just be me!

  16. You cannot help but be drawn into this drama- I can see it would make an awesome TV series if the plot is unwound slowly, lots of cliff hangers and tension, characters to trust and distrust and then change your mind. Very accessible but keeps you guessing and wanting to know what actually went on and who we should be supporting. I would say 4 stars.

  17. Thank you to Simon & Schuster Australia and Beauty and Lace for giving me the opportunity to review Anatomy of a Scandal, written by Sarah Vaughan.

    This was the first novel of Sarah’s I had read, I initially found the story a bit hard to get into as I found it overly discriptive and the beginning chapters a bit slow to gain momentum but found the book enjoyable once the story started to come together.

    I felt invested in the story due to feeling hurt for the wife Sophie who is grappling with what her husband did and not trusting the husband James at all. I felt the story line was very powerful especially with what we are currently seeing in society with men in positions of power and the good old boys club that can exist.

    The additional element of Kate the Lawyer who takes on the career making case is powerful, she is obsessed with it.

    Then we have Holly a character from their Uni days that is intertwined into the story.

    It makes for an enjoyable piece of fiction that is a must read, modern with a touch of scandal and drama.

  18. Anatomy Of A Scandal by Sarah Vaughan is a courtroom drama/thriller that had me hooked right from the beginning.
    The story initially begins with our introduction to Kate Woodcroft, a barrister who has been assigned to prosecute James Whitehorse, a junior member off Government who has been accused of a very serious crime.
    The story/chapters alternate between characters as well as the past and present giving us insight into what each character is thinking and feeling. Sophie, James’ wife, is distraught and believes in her husband’s innocence . Kate, on the other hand, believes he is guilty. Themes of harassment and privilege, as well as Sarah Vaughan’s clear and unquestionable knowledge of political drama /scandal, she was a former political correspondent, make this book very authentic and topical. Especially with current events in the media and the world. It is a gripping drama that compels you to read till the very end to find out the truth. Is Sophie right, is James innocent? Or is there more to this than even she could have ever imagined?
    This is definitely a fantastic read!
    Thank you Beauty and Lace and Simon & Schuster for giving me the opportunity to read and review this book.

  19. Once again many thanks to Beauty & Lace Simon & Schuster for the opportunity to review this book Anatomy of a Scandal by Sarah Vaughan

    I too found this book very hard to get into with a slow start but perseverance paid off & I was totally captured by the overall storyline with many twists & turns
    Without giving any thing away on one side we have James the government minister & wife Sophie versus Kate the prosecutor of the case against James then we have Holly from the past uni days as I said so many twists & turns

    I just recommend patience at the beginning will reveal a very intriguing story that I think people will enjoy

  20. Thankyou for allowing me to read this book. I don,t normally like stories that jump back and forth in time but in this case was relevant. I thoroughly enjoyed the story and I actually guessed the twist at the end. I felt desperately sorry for the wife and didn,t have much sympathy for the husband.It is good that the wife had a best friend to turn to and help her through this scandal.It was a good read and I couldn,t put the book down.

  21. Although the book starts off slow which I found hard to keep going, I kept going and glad I did it was well worth it. It’s a book definitely worth reading just be prepared for a slow start but preserve as you’ll get so much enjoyment out of this book. A family’s world gets turned upside down when the husband is accused of committing a crime….. I’ll leave the rest to you as I don’t want to give too much away and take away what the story and author has to offer

  22. Thank you Simon & Schuster and Beauty and Lace Book Club for choosing me to read Anatomy of a Scandal by Sarah Vaughan.

    This story expertly weaves a tale from the various perspectives of the three main characters and carefully intertwines the past and the present. There are several twists throughout the story that you don’t see coming until they’re unfolding before you.
    I found the narrative very slow to begin with and almost put the book down but persevered and was rewarded with a faster tempo towards the middle before it slowed down again at the end. The author did a very creditable job with delving into the two female lead characters emotions, they came across as very authentic – although I did want to shake the wife at several points – possibly, too much time and effort was spent on every emotion that the characters were feeling. This story never really ‘hooked’ me although I’m unsure why as all the key ingredients are there. Although this story wasn’t for me, I can see this book being made into a movie on the near future.

  23. This book will have you standing in the shoes of the characters seeing thing through their eyes! And how sometimes when people find fame and notoriety they think they are above the law and treating people right!
    I really liked this book it’s a interesting read. Thank you for the opportunity to read and review it

  24. Sorry but I found this one hard to get into. It’s well enough written but I prefer something a little lighter and less serious. It delves into the seedier side of human nature which may appeal to some but unfortunately not me.
    Thank you Simon & Schuster and Beauty and Lace for the advance copy.

  25. A bit slow and difficult to get into in the beginning but once i got about a quarter of the way through things started to pick up and make it alot more interesting . The author used in depth detail and descriptions for every aspect and character of the book which sometimes can be good however i found it a little too much at times and just wanted to find out what happens. It is a good read with alot of little twists here and there, alot of time jumps and different perspectives. Cant really say alot without giving away the story but it is definitely an interesting read.

    Thanks beauty and lace for giving me the opportunity to read.

  26. Thank you to the Beauty and Lace Book Club for giving me the opportunity to read this book.

    I found it an interesting book which revolves around four main characters, one of them James who came from a wealthy background with a very prestigious career used his connections and money to get away with terrible crimes against women while putting on a front of a family man with a perfect marriage. His life begins to unravel when his past catches up with him and his wife sees him for the man he is.

    There are no happy endings in this story but I found it to be a good read.

  27. This book seemed like it would be really interesting. The blurb really grabbed my attention, and I was looking forward to reading it.

    I didn’t end up finishing this book. I made it through 90 pages before giving up. The language and descriptions used for settings made me feel inadequate. I was left feeling like I wasn’t good enough to read the book, not good enough to be alongside the characters.

    I found myself getting quite confused constantly. Which character is talking? What does this room or building actually look like? This book didn’t allow me to see what was happening or where the character was.

    Every character that I came across was pretentious, snobby and self-involved. I felt angry, frustrated, and hatred towards all of them. Not a single one was relatable, nor could I connect with them on any level.

    I found myself disappointed overall with this book. I was looking forward to it, and it let me down in a huge way.

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