Penguin presents the unabridged, downloadable audiobook edition of A Very English Scandal by John Preston, read by Daniel Weyman.
The shocking true story of the first British politician to stand trial for murder.
Behind oak-panelled doors in the House of Commons, men with cut-glass accents and gold signet rings are conspiring to murder.
It's the late 1960s, and homosexuality has only just been legalised, and Jeremy Thorpe, the leader of the Liberal party, has a secret he's desperate to hide. As long as Norman Scott, his beautiful, unstable lover is around, Thorpe's brilliant career is at risk. With the help of his fellow politicians, Thorpe schemes, deceives and embezzles - until he can see only one way to silence Scott for good.
The trial of Jeremy Thorpe changed our society forever: it was the moment the British public discovered the truth about its political class. Illuminating the darkest secrets of the establishment, the Thorpe affair revealed such breathtaking deceit and corruption in an entire section of British society that, at the time, hardly anyone dared believe it could be true.
A Very English Scandal is an eye-opening tale of how the powerful protect their own and an extraordinary insight into the forces that shaped modern Britain.
©2016 John Preston (P)2016 Penguin Books Limited
The full truth finally comes out about an affair (or series thereof) which I remember rumbling on for a long time in British politics during my youth. The series of events which are described are almost too far-fetched to be credible, and could have been the basis of a British CSI episode, but the worrying thing is that it is all actually happened.
The cover-ups by so many people, and the establishment looking after its own, may not be so easy to achieve today, due to the changed nature of the press and television, more instant access to news and information, and the more general acceptance (and decriminalisation) of different lifestyles. However, it would be hard to believe that some of the same attitudes and practices are not still going on - there are regular discoveries of the hidden pasts of public figures.
It is a gripping listen, even if you already know the final verdict of the trial at the book's climax, as the details of the drama leading to that point are fascinating. However, the book may leave you, as it left me, with a rather low respect for the way our politicians and people in public life behave, and the way that in order to maintain their public facades, others can be mistreated or misled.
The narration is excellent, with a style that is light enough to be entertaining and easy to listen to, but delivers the serious points admirably. The narrator's use of different voices for some of the characters helps clarity, and his tone of voice conveys the intentions of the author's words extremely well.
If I have one quibble about the book, it is that Chapter 25 seems to be written in a different tense from the rest of the book, which rather jarred when listening, but I can definitely recommend this as a riveting exposé of a quite shocking scandal.
I recommend this as an excellent listen. The story is fascinating - I lived through it but much of it passed me by at the time. The research is brilliant and it's been beautifully put together. At its heart - despite many wry and satirical moments - is an appalling expose of the 1970s Establishment looking after its own. It goes a long way towards explaining why 21st century voters hold politicians in such contempt.
I am old enough to remember this a young boy. I remember the news reports on TV about the trial. I listened to this to understand the back story and was captivated. Preston describes a sordid, rather pathetic story filled with deeply flawed characters. He adroitly avoids any sympathy for some clearly bizarre people. One is left saddened by the pantomime murder plot and the deeply disturbing establishment cover-up, which is described without hysterical rancour or melodrama.
Finely voiced, this is a superb audiobook.
a riviting story of the establishment closing ranks to protect the most anti social, self serving and manipulative politician of the time.
I highly recommend this listen
Yes it was so well written that you were in the courtroom and I didn't like J T and disliked him even more by the end
He made the book for me
It made me think
Fascinating, engaging, relevant..
How this scandal was deliberately, coldly and in a calculated way, covered up...
He brought the characters to realistic and believable life...
Definitely... such a gripping narrative..
One of the best boos that i have listened to in recent times...
In short, how the Establishment looks after, then regulates, its own. Powerfully and inventively researched and drawn, this book that grows darker with every chapter, told in a style that recounts conversation, news reports, memory and every cast member of the drama, which remans shocking not only to this day, but makes an echo of what the present can still do when powerful authority is challenged to face its own failings and point blank refuses. In a harrowing story, the deficiencies and self-protective string-pulling of those who are entrusted to deliver justice shocks more than anything else. How privilege gets away with (attempted, but for the grace of god) murder. Thorpe is being 'rehabilitated' I hear. It makes me shiver.
A wonderfully fitting tone and grasp of the material (no 'actorly' inflection of words for its own sake) and great sense of timing.
The close is most affecting, when it touches upon the here and now after the storm.
I loved it and have been searching for further narrations by Daniel Weyman since.
Preston's account of the Thorpe Affair is masterly, absorbing and wonderfully paced. An astonishing achievement and one of the best audiobooks of the year.
Say something about yourself!
An interesting and important study.
We are taken and forced to look at an example of the power on citizens' perceptions of members of The Establishment as sacrosanct, as their being situated in a social milieu beyond or above the common ground, where usual societal concepts of 'badness' either do not exist or are accepted and forgiven by one's peers.
This story of political manipulation and intrigue, seen under the weight of misguided anti-homosexual legislation, needs to be taken with the later exposes of leading community figures of their involvement in child sexual exploitation (and even, allegedly, child murder and pseudo-Satanic rituals).
Although such tales are now commonplace and shockingly un-shocking, these very dangerous self-protecting people - found both in positions of authority and social leadership, as well as those quietly hidden in the folds of inherited wealth - damage the fabric of society and further blacken our already murky name internationally.
Accordingly, this story needs to be trumpeted across wider society to help more 'normal' people to root out these dangerous folk and expose them to the sanitising light of public opinion.
Dr Richard L Peacocke BSc Hons MSc
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