Reputation: it takes a lifetime to build and just one moment to destroy.
Emma Webster is a respectable MP. Emma Webster is a devoted mother.
Emma Webster is innocent of the murder of a tabloid journalist.
Emma Webster is a liar.
#Reputation: The story you tell about yourself. And the lies others choose to believe…Brought up in Devon, Sarah Vaughan read English at Oxford and went on to become a journalist. After training at the Press Association, she spent eleven years at the Guardian as a news reporter, political correspondent and health correspondent, before leaving to freelance and write fiction. Anatomy of a Scandal, her third novel was an instant international bestseller and translated into 22 languages, long-listed for the Theakston Old Peculiar Crime Novel of the Year 2018 and short-listed for the Audible Sounds of Crime Award, GoodReads Jury’s Out award, French Elle’s Prix des Lectrices and Richard & Judy’s ‘Best of the Decade.’ Anatomy of a Scandal has been adapted for screen and will air on Netflix as a six-part series in Spring 2022. Little Disasters, her fourth novel, was selected as a Waterstones Thriller of the Month in 2021, has been sold to the US, France, Portugal, Sweden and Spain, and optioned for TV. Reputation is her fifth novel.
In politics reputation is everything and Emma Webster is about to lose hers. Her decision to change careers from being a teacher to run for MP was so that she was in a position to actually do something to make changes for the better however besides destroying her marriage, the job is not without its dangers including having to strategically place furniture in her constituency surgery to facilitate a quick escape, having bottles of water handy in case of acid attacks together with the death threats and online abuse she suffers. Her high profile campaign collaborating with a local newspaper journalist for tighter online abuse laws to protect victims of revenge porn has increased the trolling and threats and then there is that Guardian feature of Emma wearing a smart suit and red lipstick. The article shows her to be the epitome of a strong successful woman in a man’s world and seems to alienate her even more from her party and Westminster.
So where did it all go wrong for Emma. A lapse in judgement combined with her desire to protect those closest to her turn this from a political drama to that of a courtroom one. Emma was such a strong character and one whose story I wanted to believe however there was always that lingering doubt as which parts were actually true.
My thanks to Anne Cater of Random Things Tours for the tour invite and to the publisher for the review copy in its fab sparkly slipcase. I’m rather out of sync with Sarah’s books, I reviewed Anatomy of a Scandal here on the blog. I purchased the next, Little Disasters which is languishing unread on my Kindle but was determined not to let this one pass by – the topics of politics and courtroom drama being irresistible.
I love a story that features political shenanigans and also set in the inside of a courtroom and this didn’t disappoint. The author is clearly no stranger to political journalism and what comes through clearly is the horrifying abuse suffered by female MPs but also the misogyny that they and other women have to deal with and the lengths they must go to to keep themselves safe. Nobody comes out of this story well, including the press. With the exception of one fellow female MP friend who stands by her, Emma finds herself ostracised by many of her colleagues and having to fight for her freedom – and her reputation.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
There are some excellent supporting characters who are roundly drawn including 14 year old daughter Flora. Flora unable to express her fears for her mother’s safety and who actually understands more than the adults give her credit for and who keeps her own personal problems to herself. “Is what I want so unimportant to you? Is it worth my being this scared?” Caroline, the ‘new wife’ having to manage a balancing act within a difficult family dynamic.