Emma Webster is a backbencher but she gains publicity after a Guardian interview with striking photos and especially when she makes the case of a girl who committed suicide after being cyberbullied with a private video of her ex-partner her prime topic. But then, things go quickly down the hill, she is harassed and threatened increasingly by frustrated men, her daughter Flora becomes the victim of bullying at school and online and makes a huge mistake. Emma, too, loses her temper and thus becomes the prime suspect in a murder case. How could this all go so wrong when she just wanted to protect her own and her daughter’s reputation?
I totally adored Sarah Vaughan’s novels “Notes on a Scandal” and “Little Disasters”. Her latest, “Reputation”, too, did definitely not disappoint. The author greatly used an important topic to fire up the plot and brilliantly outlines how, still in 2022, there is much more men can do than women and how fragile their public picture is. With Emma, she created an authentic protagonist whose point of view shows the contradictory feelings and constraints a woman in a public position is under.
On the one hand, the novel is a murder mystery in which you are repeatedly surprised as little bits and pieces surface unexpectedly making things appear in a different light. On the other hand, the novel lives on the personal perspective of Emma and her daughter being subject to bullying and harassment. Sarah Vaughn greatly develops the characters who come under ever more pressure until it gets too much and they do things they themselves would have considered unimaginable. The female characters are brilliantly developed since they have mixed feelings which make it all but easy to decide what to do and thus underline that life is far from being just black and white.
A great read with an important topic that outlines how cruel people can be and how important it is to have good friends you can rely on.
When hackers enter the system of some high profile universities and publish all emails sent by staff and students, people get nervous. Which secrets will be exposed? Aldrich University in Pittsburgh is unprepared for what is to come, especially Kit Strasser-Manning who never suspected her husband Greg of any wrong-doing. But then there are the emails which insinuate he had an affair with a very young woman. Kit does not get the chance to really find out what her husband did or didn’t because she finds him stabbed in their kitchen after a charity event that she hosted only hours after the whole scandal broke lose. She has lost all her memory and cannot recollect when or how she got home or what she did then. Yet, that’s only just the beginning for the whole community.
Sara Shepard’s novel is a tour de force of characters in an extreme situation. There is nobody who can escape since all have their small or big secrets that are suddenly threatened to be exposed. And they are, one after the other, they let down their guards and reveal what they hoped to be deeply buried and forgotten. At the beginning, I had some trouble keeping track of all the characters and understanding how they link, but then suddenly, the pieces all fell into place and an incredibly brilliant picture formed.
The motives are actually very old and well known: pride, hubris, greed, lust, wrath, envy – just consult the seven deadly sins and you’ll find them well portrayed in the novel. It is the core human faults that drive the characters. Along the way, Shepard also addresses hot topics such as the fraternity culture and spying on your beloved ones thanks to modern technology. Thus, not just the question about what each of the characters hides and the search for Greg’s murderer keep suspense high, but also current societal developments make it an entertaining and interesting read.
Due to the multiple points of view, the story is fast paced and keeps you reading that just one more chapter until you are all of a sudden through. Not just the plot, but also the author’s perfectly pitched foreshadowing make it a highly diverting novel.