A Very English Scandal, by John Preston

Story of the downfall of Jeremy Thorpe.

I had only vague impressions of what happened with Thorpe, and I think I'd assumed that what I did remember was stuff that the tabloids had made up - something about a dog being shot? It was quite eye-opening to read this: rather in the same way as the story of Shirley Porter, I couldn't quite believe that people had actually done the things that they had.

There was hardly any mention of politics in the book: it was all about Thorpe and his character, and personal life. One mention was made to a speech that Thorpe made about Rhodesia, which I gather was influential, but that was about it.

And there were quite a lot of reported private conversations, which I assume were imagined/reconstructed (unless they've been written about by one of the interlocutors).

Being completely ignorant of the history, it was a shock to me when Thorpe's first wife Caroline was killed in a car crash, and I got a bit upset about that.

Generally, the events seem to belong to a different age, when homosexuality was illegal and the press would sit on stories that might otherwise cause discomfort to politicians if they came out.

I listened to this on audiobook, which was an addition to the 99p kindle download, and so I made a couple of notes, but only by remembering things I'd heard when driving and then noting them when I parked the car - if I'd been reading it, I'd have made more:

Although Berkeley was openly gay, he was another unlikely ally for Abse - 'not the sort of man whom I would choose to accompany for a skate on thin ice'

when talking about Norman Scott, who wanted to try and go to court to get custody of his son:

His main concern, he explained, was to try and secure custody of Benjamin. Privately, Bessell thought the chances of this happening were almost non-existent - family courts tending not to look favourably on promiscuous homosexuals with well-documented mental problems.

Completed : 26-Jun-2017 (audiobook)

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