Sophie Whitehouse gave up her job to stay at home with her children and play the perfect wife to James, a junior minister in London and a great friend of the Prime Minister. They seem to have a perfect marriage and a perfect life until disaster strikes. For the last five months James has been having an affair with Olivia, a young researcher in his office, and not only the affair made the first page of the newspapers but Olivia has accused James of raping her.
Kate is a prosecutor who looks for justice for the victims of sexual violence. Her job is not easy, she has to listen to gruesome details and not always she is able to get justice for the victims. But when she is assigned the case against James Whitehouse she knows she has to win, even if the odds are not really in her favor.
The trial begins. Sophie’s love for her husband is so strong that she stands by his side, while Kate works hard to prove that James is not the good man that everyone believes him to be. As details of the affair between James and Olivia come to light, both Kate and Sophie have to face a past that led them to this moment.
The novel is told by different points of view, mostly Kate and Sophie, and it weaves between the past and the present, between London and Oxford. For almost a year I have been hearing really good things about this book and when I finally read it I found out why everyone was so excited about it.
This is not a fast-paced novel as the author really focuses into the characters’ psychology. Despite the slow-paced rhythm, the plot is really captivating and, as the novel develops, more secrets are revealed, the tension rises, and the twists and turns kept me glued to the page of this legal thriller. What I liked most about this novel are the two female main characters, Kate and Sophie. There were a few moments in the novel when I didn’t like them because of their choices both in the past and the present, but in the end they come out as two strong and determined characters.
I am not a fan of sexual violence in books (some authors are too descriptive and give too much details) but in this novel the detailed descriptions are not too graphic or too shocking, although I cringed a few times and felt for the characters. This a thought-provoking novel about current issues like sexual violence, harassment, men in power, but also deals with themes of marriage, trust, love, family, and dark secrets.
Engaging and complex characters, a compelling plot, and an unpredictable ending create a sharp and provocative novel.
ANATOMY OF A SCANDAL is out on January 11th in the UK.