Anatomy of a Scandal by Sarah Vaughan
My rating: 4 of 5 stars
”But the truth is, women are often scared of antagonizing their assailants or they feel conflicted; not so very long ago they may have been charmed by them. And we women aim to please. It is hardwired into us that we should placate and mollify---bend our will to that of men. Oh, some of us have fought against that, and we’re seen as hard-nosed, difficult, assertive, shrewish. We pay the penalty. Why don’t I have a proper, live-in partner? It’s not just because I’m unsure if I can trust anyone sufficiently. It’s because I refuse to compromise. I refuse to woman up, you might say.”
Compromise is not necessarily a bad word, especially if the needs of both parties involved are weighed equally. Unfortunately, compromise has been a word that has been applied more to women than men. Women, through the years, have been somewhat enablers to men’s bad behavior, but they also have not felt empowered enough to say no. Inequality of pay, glass ceilings, social perceptions of their role, and systematic brainwashing have layered into their psyche a fine webbing of insecurities, which makes them much easier to subjugate. Those women who break free, and frankly even the most aggressive of women have only made small advances, are usually marginalized by friends, family, and coworkers.
Don’t you want a boyfriend? Don’t you want to get married? Don’t you want to have kids? Then play by the rules.
Historically, power is never given. It has to be taken. “Men” are not going to give up their power just because women ask nicely. Recent headlines have shown us that we are on a verge of a revolution. The question will be, will women be able to push it as far as it needs to go, or will they end up having to compromise once again?
So where does the trouble begin? Maybe it begins with a belief.
We are invincible, fucking invincible, James thought….”
That is our man James Whitehouse, a man of abundant wealth, charm, and hunkiness. At Oxford, he was on the rowing team and walked around campus like a Greek god. He was a member of a group called the Libertines, and they did their best to live up to the name of the club. For those who may not know the definition of a Libertine, here it is: a person, especially a man, who behaves without moral principles or a sense of responsibility, especially in sexual matters. The young men in this group felt fully empowered to embrace the hedonistic implications as a mandate... nay, as a right of their social status.
You see, they are rich.
To give you an example: at a restaurant, they get rip roaring drunk and start breaking the glassware. They are too drunk to drink anymore, but decide that they will still pour the rest of the Bollingers on hand at the restaurant (they call it Bolly) down the drain. The type of wastefulness that puts my teeth on edge. They can afford to do anything they want to do and be whatever they want to be.
James is paired up with Sophie, well, and with every other girl he can get horizontal or at least backed up against a wall for a good round of thrusts. Sophie is beautiful with long legs, long blonde hair, a fit rowing body, and a pristine pedigree. She would make the perfect wife for a man with his eye on a political career. As wonderful and gasp worthy as their life seems to be, I’ve found that, whether people sit on golden toilets or cracked porcelain, the human elements of existence still always come into play.
Sophie, with two kids now and a husband on the rise in politics, is going to have to make a choice. ”You want to believe your husband. She wants to destroy him.”
The she is the barrister Kate Woodcroft, who is carrying more baggage than a 747. She receives the file on the young blond assistant, who says that James Whitehouse raped her in a lift, and the bitter smile of opportunity curls the edges of Kate’s lips.
Cases like this come down to who the jury will believe and who the jury likes the best. Sexual assault or rape rarely have witnesses, so it amounts to the he said/she said arguments, and who said what, and who heard what.
Does no mean NO, or does no mean maybe? Who wouldn’t want to have sex with James Whitehouse? He is dreamy, after all.
Even as the case seems to be straight forward, preordained even, Sarah Vaughan has loaded into the plot a burning Molotov cocktail that, when it goes off, brings new meaning to revenge served cold. Switching to different narrators with each new chapter leads to new revelations that land like body blows as it becomes more and more clear how those who feel entitled are playing by different rules than the rest of us. This is a story that could have easily been splashed across the headlines of The Guardian, The Sun, The Daily Mail or The Evening Standard.
With all the sexual scandals rocking Hollywood, journalism, and politics in the United States, there have been many interesting, and sometimes heated, discussions in my household about all the nuances of the numerous accusations being made against various powerful men. I’m sure the same has been happening all across the United States in other households, as well. Hopefully, not too many men are finding themselves banished to the couch or the back bedroom. This is a book that would be interesting for couples to read together to encourage discussion of the numerous aspects that surround these issues that obviously deserve and need more understanding.
I want to thank Atria Books for supplying me with an Advance Reading Copy in exchange for an honest review.
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