Book Review: Anatomy of a Scandal by Sarah Vaughan


Book Title and Author: Anatomy of a Scandal by Sarah Vaughan
Publication Date and Publisher: January 23, 2018 by Atria Books
Genre: Crime Fiction, Mystery, Legal Thriller
Pages: 400 pages
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Date Read: January 21, 2018 (e-ARC)

4 Stars

Goodreads Review:

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?

My Thoughts:

An Anatomy of a Scandal is a captivating read that could not be a more timely release in our current political climate. While reading it, I felt like I was reading a story that could have been taken straight from any of today’s headlines with all the scandals and accusations occurring right now. In this case, it is not just he said-she said, but how much power, high profile, and prestige allows you to get away with.

Sarah Vaughan has crafted a highly intelligent, well-written legal thriller that explores matters of privilege, high profile, the question of consent, secrets, lies, and intrigue. The writing is brilliant, and I cannot give enough credit to Vaughan for the intricate details in the book about the British judicial system, and it is here where her experience as a journalist and political correspondent truly shines with the authenticity of her novel. At times the legalize in the book was a lot, and I can see how that along with how procedural the book is could lose some reader’s attention. However, since I love legal procedural books and television, I enjoyed it quite a bit, and I think the way she includes that information really set the stage for the entire premise of the story, which really felt at times like being right in the midst of a suspenseful, jaw-dropping courtroom drama.

For you high octane thrill readers, this will likely not be the book for you since this is not a fast-paced suspense but a slow burning character driven novel. Instead of hard twists and turns, it teases and plays with the reader with many gripping reveals and stunning layers upon layers as each chapter is told in alternating perspectives from either Sophie, the wife convinced of her husband’s innocence, Kate the Queen’s Court barrister (lawyer) almost obsessed and determined to see James prosecuted and James, the Member of Parliament accused of raping the coworker with whom he’d had a brief affair. Then in flashbacks to James and Sophie’s university days at Oxford, we hear Holly’s POV, a friend of Sophie’s who abruptly left school with no explanation. The multiple POVs and flashbacks from the present to the past are extremely well done and are not at all confusing like some novels with too many POVs or flashbacks. Instead, this way of telling the story pushes the character development and really helps you understand how everyone is affected by the accusations made against James and to what extent the lies have been told and the secrets been hidden.

While this book will not be for every type of reader, it certainly is a book you will not want to miss if you love a good drama, fabulous writing, excellent characters, and a plot that is very, unfortunately, relevant for today. I look forward to more from Sarah Vaughan in the future!

**Thank you, NetGalley, Atria Books, and Sarah Vaughan for an ARC copy in exchange for my fair and honest review.**

2018 Popsugar Reading Challenge Prompt: A Book With An Ugly Cover

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About the Author: Sarah Vaughan


Born: Leicester
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. She started writing fiction the week she turned forty. Anatomy of a Scandal is her third novel and will be published in January 2018 by S&S in the UK, US and Canada, plus other commonwealth countries. It will also be translated into 16 languages. She lives in Cambridge with her husband and two young children and is currently writing her fourth novel.

10 thoughts on “Book Review: Anatomy of a Scandal by Sarah Vaughan

  1. Great review Stephanie. I personally LOVED this one, although I know it has mixed reviews. Can’t wait for her next novel to come out.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you, Holly! I struggled getting started because I wasn’t in the mood to read but then sat down yesterday and read from the 15% point to finish in a few hours! I couldn’t put the down! I think the mixed reviews are because it has a slow pace and the ending, but I liked the ending although I’ve read reviews that didn’t. I can’t wait to read her next one either, 😊

      Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks, Jenn! This one did met one of the prompts, lol…ugly cover-hahaha! I thought this cover was just AWFUL! It certainly doesn’t reflect the book. I’m 7/50 🙂 Thanks, you too! ❤


    1. Thanks, Laurel!! It definitely is considering everything happening in Hollywood and Washington. Hopefully there will be a day when this is no longer relatable because the issues of consent, etc are over and no longer sweeped under the rug. Will be a great day!!


  2. Such a great review, it makes me want to read it now! This book slightly reminds me of Crichton’s Disclosure, but more modern. It’s been a while since I read legal thrillers, and I’m currently very much in the mood for thrillers of any kind! 😀

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you! It was. It reminded me a bit of the pacing of last summer’s He Said/She Said, which I thought interesting since the topic was also rape. I thought it might pick up too once we found out about Holly, but idk. I still really liked it. I’ve been tempted to check out some of her other books.


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