Testimony is the first Anita Shreve' novel I've read, so I've no idea whether it is typical of her writing, but I enjoyed this. It's a slightly confusing tale of a scandal which hits an upper-crust private school in Vermont. Mike Bourdwin, headmaster of Avery Academy, is horrified when a pornographic video tape engulfs the school in a sex scandal, with repercussions for all concerned.

Told from a number of different viewpoints the reader is left to make up their own mind about the morality of the situation, and whose fault (if anyone's) it was. Of course it's not that simple, some characters are portrayed rather more sympathetically than others, and the "victim" is treated in a surprisingly old-fashioned way, which does make the book feel rather uncontemporary. You could argue that Shreve is being realistic here, or you may feel that she is being disingenuous or naive.

There are plenty of questions at the end that remain unresolved - how culpable was the victim? Who released the tape to the internet? Did the punishment fit the crime? But I guess this too is symptomatic of real life where there are often no easy answers.

The book does seem to be tailored to an American audience, so although I enjoyed it, there were some elements that were unfamiliar to me, and some that just seemed plain odd - the evils of drink were well hammered to death, and although I don't condone underage drinking this does seem to be a peculiarly American pre-occupation (or perhaps even just a Shrevesian pre-occupation). So a slightly strange book, but worth reading - it'll certainly set you thinking about moral ambiguity - good book for a book group I would have thought.


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