When a man is accused of rape by a colleague he had a fling with 30 years earlier, a friend with ties to both parties tries to sort out what actually happened.
Lasdun (The Fall Guy, 2017, etc.) explores the social and psychological aspects of an abuse accusation in an expertly orchestrated and engaging novel set during the run-up to the 2016 election, back when candidate Trump's treatment of women looked like it could cause him trouble. Marco Rosedale is a middle-aged British television journalist now living in Brooklyn with his grown daughter, her partner, and his own somewhat younger Lebanese-Australian girlfriend. He has everything to lose when he hears from a British newspaper that a woman named Julia Gault is about to go public with an accusation against him in her memoir, based on a long-ago boozy fling which he recalls as consensual. His old friend, the unnamed narrator, is his main confidant as he moves from panic and confusion to maneuvering and mobilization. The narrator also knows Julia Gault; she was a protegée of his mother's and he had a teenage crush on her back in the day; in fact, he had at one point ambitiously planned to write a fictional portrait of her "in the monumental manner of Proust's Odette." Lasdun hooks the reader on his narrative with brief, tautly controlled chapters, each one adding new evidence and detail and relying on acute observation of the sometimes-bizarre machinations of the psyche. "I genuinely didn't know what I thought," explains the narrator as his opinion “lurch[es] between an icy willingness to condemn every accused man without further questioning, and what appeared to be a perverse, atavistic loyalty to the patriarchy that would take hold of me like a temporary seizure, and from which I would emerge stunned at myself."
Of the novels to come out of the #MeToo moment to date, none is more riveting, insightful, and unsettling. Lasdun is the perfect writer to navigate these troubled waters from the male perspective.