When a high-ranking government minister, James Whitehouse, tells his wife, Sophie, he has been having an affair with a parliamentary aide, and that a newspaper is about to run an exposé, she opts to stand by her man for the sake of the family. But then James receives a visit from police officers who wish to question him about an incident in the House of Commons’ lift. James’s aide, 28-year-old Olivia, has accused him of rape.
Sarah Vaughan’s smart psychological thriller – a TV adaptation of which begins on Netflix this month – grapples with complex issues of power, sex and consent as it plots the ensuing investigation and court case. The story is told from contrasting viewpoints: there is steely barrister Kate, crisply narrated by Julie Teal, who has built her reputation prosecuting sexual abusers in cases that aren’t clear cut. “Juries are keen to convict the predatory rapist, the archetypal bogeyman down a dark alley,” she observes, “yet when it comes to relationship rape, they’d really rather not know.”
Luke Thompson reads from the perspective of Whitehouse, ably conveying his air of upper-class insouciance and privilege – he is a close confidant of the PM who is a childhood friend and fellow member of a Bullingdon-esque club during their Oxford days (the allusions to real-life political figures are hard to miss). Meanwhile, Esther Wane is the brittle Sophie, who must wrestle with her conflicting feelings about her husband, and Sarah Feathers is Ali, a contemporary of Kate’s from university who fears her old friend may have more of an interest in the Whitehouse case than she is letting on.
Anatomy of a Scandal is available on Simon & Schuster Audio, 10hr 56min
The Red of My Blood
Clover Stroud, Penguin Audio, 7hr 26min
The author narrates her hugely poignant memoir chronicling the year after the death of her sister, Nell, from breast cancer.
The Insect Crisis
Oliver Milman, Audible Studios, 10hr 24min
A sobering investigation into the decline of the insect population, and the consequences for human life, read by James Lailey.