What Red Was by Rosie Price
Occasionally, a debut novel appears that’s “so skilful in its plotting and characterisation that it seems like the work of a seasoned author”, said Hannah Beckerman in The Observer. What Red Wasis such a book. Kate and Max meet at university and become close friends. She’s an only child from a modest background; he comes from a “wealthy and extended” family. One night at Max’s family home, Kate is subjected to a horrific sexual assault – which she struggles to tell anyone about. The novel deals astutely with the emotional fallout from the attack while weaving in lots of other themes – addiction, family dysfunction, grief. “Price is just 26; I cannot wait to see what she produces next.”
Price has revealed in interviews that she was raped, and it’s this part of the novel that rings most true, said Katie Law in the London Evening Standard. She evokes the “fine line between sexual arousal and self-disgust” especially well. “But since this is so obviously Price’s story, might she not have been better off telling it as just that”, rather than writing clichéd characters and a narrative that feels “flimsy”?