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?
ARGH! THIS BOOK! Okay, that sounds pretty negative, but I’m all about the drama, and this book got under my skin, in such a good way though, I assure you.
I’ve read Sarah’s debut novel ‘The Art of Baking Blind’
a few years ago and I really enjoyed it, but this is a whole level of greatness. Sarah’s writing is completely absorbing and there wasn’t one moment that I thought “I’ll just leave it here for a bit”.
You hear mainly from the three women, his wife and the prosecutor from the courtroom, and the girl who fancied him in college. There was also a couple of chapters from James himself, and these were definitely among the most interesting, even though he wasn’t a pleasant character.
The book makes you ask lots of questions to yourself, not least of all if you think James is guilty or not. James is a politician, so instantly there was a part of me that already distrusted him (and I think that was a clever move of Sarah), add to that as he comes across as arrogant and unlikeable in his chapters, it’s easy to condemn him as guilty straight away, but in a court of law, it should be innocent until proven guilty. On the other hand, it feels terrible even thinking the woman who has accused James of rape would lie and your gut instinct is to trust her. It’s a heinous and very topical crime, and one which is often not reported due to being one person’s word against the other among others, especially when the assault occurs in a relationship or with a person you know. Why would anyone make this up? It’s horrific to think of. This book makes you think and that can only be a good thing.
Sophie, James’ wife was a complex character, who I went through phases of how much I liked her. Whilst at college, she was clearly one of those people who were just happy to ride the waves of popularity, taking advantage of her new friend, Holly. Therefore it was hard to like her. As an adult though, while still seemingly snobby, her complex feelings due to James case was great to get into her head and mindset and made me a little more sympathetic towards her.
I liked Kate too, a few times I wavered, thinking she was too sure James was guilty, which whilst it was her job, it seemed she was judging him without even looking at any facts at times, but actually, the fact she cared about the victim and the case was actually nice, and maybe I was being too judgemental of Kate.
Holly was relatable to anyone who has felt slightly like an oddball whilst at school or university. So I enjoyed her chapters, to me, at least at the start it felt the most comforting to me, whilst the rest of the book was quite dark and full of unease.
This book has the drama, the moments where I found myself holding my breath with the apprehension of what was about to happen. It has everything I wanted from this book and more. If you want to read something that is powerfully written and will stay in your mind for a while, this is definitely the one to choose!
Published by: Simon and Schuster
Gratefully received from the Publisher for review