As a politician, Emma has sacrificed a great deal for her career—including her marriage and her relationship with her daughter, Flora.
A former teacher, the glare of the spotlight is unnerving for Emma, particularly when it leads to countless insults, threats, and trolling as she tries to work in the public eye. As a woman, she knows her reputation is worth its weight in gold but as a politician, she discovers it only takes one slip-up to destroy it completely.
Fourteen-year-old Flora is learning the same hard lessons at school as she encounters heartless bullying. When another teenager takes her own life, Emma lobbies for a new law to protect women and girls from the effects of online abuse. Now, Emma and Flora find their personal lives uncomfortably intersected…but then the unthinkable happens.
A man is found dead in Emma’s home. A man she had every reason to be afraid of and to want gone. Fighting to protect her reputation, and determined to protect her family at all costs, Emma is pushed to the limits as the worst happens and her life is torn apart.
Hi and welcome to my review of Reputation!
I was literally just kicking myself for not listening to Anatomy of a Scandal sooner, when Reputation was up for grabs on NetGalley. I was in such a rush to click that button I didn’t even read the synopsis, sometimes all you need to know is the author’s name, I guess that alone speaks volumes.
Reputation centres around a female MP, Emma Webster, who is the best sort of MP one could hope for, really: she is honest, diligent and truly concerned about her constituents’ wellbeing. Unfortunately, a big tree attracts the woodsman’s axe, especially when it’s a good-looking woman fighting for women’s rights in a man’s world. With threats coming from all corners, slowly but surely Emma descends into a state of almost constant fear.
Meanwhile, Emma’s teenage daughter Flora is being bullied and catfished by the people who are supposed to have her back. At the end of her tether, Flo does something that might be classed as a stupid teenage prank, but of course it’s different when your mum is in the public eye and your random act of foolish vengeange may be used against her.
Part psychological thriller, part political thriller, part courtroom drama, Reputation aptly documents the negative spiral of being under constant attack and wanting to save one’s family and one’s reputation. Sticks and stones, you might say, but words can and do hurt, and how are you meant to do your bit for the good of your constituency if people don’t trust you?
When we first meet Emma she’s this fairly confident politician but we see her (d)evolve into this nervous wreck of a woman, which makes for a truly fascinating character study. Her fear is palpable, and, I think, will be familiar to many women. Haven’t we all felt unsafe walking or cycling home, speeding up, glancing over our shoulders, clutching our keys tightly, just in case? Emma’s also very credible as an MP and as a mother, once again Sarah Vaughan delivers well-rounded, three-dimensional and utterly believable characters. Reputation also nails the prejudices against women in general and women in authority, the lack of political correctness.
I had a great time with Reputation, I was completely invested in Emma’s and Flora’s story and I love that it kept a few things up its sleeve until the very end. If you enjoyed any of Sarah Vaughan’s previous books and/or you’re in the market for a cracking thriller, then I recommend you take a closer look at Reputation!
Reputation is out now in hardcover, digital formats and audio. Happy publication day to Sarah Vaughan!
Massive thanks to Simon & Schuster and NetGalley for the eARC. All opinions are my own.