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Anatomy of A Scandal by Sarah Vaughan  

April 1, 2023


Anatomy of a Scandal is about a court trial revolving around an accusation of rape by a politician.  The defendant: handsome, family-man, ministry official (it’s set in England).  The prosecutor: young, sexy, legal assistant.  As the book progresses, we learn that the relationships (or more specifically, former relationships) are far more complicated than we had previously thought. 


Typing this out, I feel like I should have really enjoyed this book! Character-driven. Feminism. Political drama.  But ultimately, it just didn’t captivate me.  I did some deep-dive reflecting to figure out why exactly this book didn’t resonate, and I think the major reason was unfortunately all in the timing. 


This book was released in 2018, shortly after the peak of the “Me Too” movement.  At the time, I’m sure this book was incredibly timely and relevant, reflecting the thoughts and emotions that all feminists were collectively experiencing.  I read this book in 2023 - arguably a very different time.  While the “Me Too” movement is still very much a thing, other events are getting more attention - school shootings, war in Ukraine, how to navigate a post-Covid world.  If I had read this when it was first published, I think I would’ve been much more intrigued.  But after so many news stories and discussions about the movement and its aftermath, nothing about this novel was very eye-opening - I had just lived five years of hearing a multitude of different versions of this story (news burnout is real).  That being said, do I think this book could have a resurgence someday to teach a new generation about respect and consent? Absolutely.  


Apart from the timing, there were a couple book-ish reasons that I wasn’t able to rate this novel very well.  The twist comes a little less than halfway through the book (and it’s honestly a pretty good twist).  But then you have to read the entire other half of the book, which is mostly court scenes and boring internal monologues from side characters. The ending also just wasn’t satisfying.  There ends up being an entire other unrelated storyline that rears its ugly head in to try and wrap up the novel.  It felt like the author was bringing in other points just to check off a box.  


Overall, this was a two-star read for me 🙁 It was turned into a Netflix series (which I’m currently viewing), so maybe watching it play out rather than reading it play out will be more satisfying.


This was my book club’s March pick! I’m excited to see what discussion it sparks (and will maybe follow up this post afterwards!). 

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