What Red Was

Pub Date:   |   Archive Date: 8 Jun 2019

Member Reviews

This novel was the first book I read following a week in intensive care. its language is exquisite and this hard hitting novel does not shy away from its challenging issues. Its character development pre incident creates emotional investment and it is all within the writing where the soul from this novel comes from. Anger rises and you really care for the lead, wishing the worst on the enemy, the culprit in this novel. In addition to her characters, the setting in this novel, the houses, the room, down to the furniture create a story, build the set, no matter how harrowing. A voice to watch out for and in incredible debut novel.
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The way Price approached the rape and the reaction of the victim to the rape is done in a very specific way, and perhaps not the way the majority of readers will expect it be addressed. The focus is on everything and everyone surrounding the event and Kate.

Every single person, event and item is described in minutiae barring the most poignant one. It shifts the attention on the reactions and emotions of everyone except victim and perpetrator.

I found it an intriguing way to approach the topic, especially because in reality this is often what happens. The trauma of a rape never just belongs to the person it most certainly should belong to. Family members, loved ones, friends and acquaintances - everyone thinks they are entitled to not only an opinion, but also to own a part of the trauma.

As Kate fights to come to terms with the reality of what happened and the way it might change her life if she reveals the truth

Whose story is it to share? Does it belong to the person it happened to, the person who did it or does it belong to the general public? This is the real question that arises from the entire situation. As if it's some sort of public service to inform, to judge and to bare all. Even at the expense of the victim.

One of the pivotal points of the story is the platonic relationship between Max and Kate and the repercussions of the assault on said relationship. The equilibrium between them is destroyed, but only one of them is aware of that fact.

This is an engaging piece of contemporary fiction with a noirish quality to it.
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A compulsive read with big issues that propel the reader along. At times I wamted more depth to the characters, particularly with such a weighty and important subject matter, but I whizzed through this novel.
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Profound and hard-hitting, but still written in an elegant and clever style.  Thanks so much for giving me the opportunity to read it!
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This was definitely a hard hitting read! But it doesn’t shy away from the  traumatic experience that altered Kate’s life.
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This was one of the books I was most anticipating this year so I was delighted to get a copy on NetGalley. I’m really torn as to how I feel about this book because I loved the first half and flew through it, but the second half just dragged for me and I didn’t feel a real pull to pick the book back up. The central plot of this book is about an assault and I do have to say that this was incredibly well written and dealt with. It was so realistic and believable, and following Kate’s reaction to what happened to her was very moving. I think there were perhaps too many storylines competing with each other and that slightly took away from the main premise. I did love the writing though and I would look out for future books by Rosie Price.
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What Red Was is a novel about pleasure and pain, power and control, and ownership. It also has a fuzzy plotless plot.
The crux of the story is how to move on from rape, the issues involved with the many factors of sexual assault including the rippling effects on other people. From the accused who has 'evidence' that the victim was a willing partner and the male friend who wonders why a 'handsome man would need to rape' to the woman who believes that the 'first rape is a rite of passage between virginity and motherhood,'  this intense first book delves deep into the conflict between the body and the mind. 

This part of the story, the second half, makes uncomfortable reading but it is expertly done. It considers how telling people about it can be a help and a hindrance, as if it is something of an entity in itself that the victim has relinquished control over. This section is clear, well written and almost mesmerising in places. Except for the expression 'under-exaggerated'. I'll have to give that more thought.

If the book had stayed here it may have been shorter but it would have been better. Instead there is a ramble around a family befriended by the protagonist, their pointless contribution to the story distracting rather than adding. Here the narrative slides into reporting backgrounds in place of showing, sketchy characters and a fair amount of head-hopping even within the same sentence. So the first half of the book is slow and plodding and a little confusing amid the various uncles and holidays and other mundane activities. 

It would be a shame if the first part cast a shadow on the true themes of the book, which are clever and provocative and stay with you long after the final chapter is closed. The type of book everyone should read to gain a true understanding of the effects of sexual assault. Very much of our times.

Rosie Price has great potential. 

#NetGalley #WhatRedWas
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A brilliant debut novel by Rosie Price. Reading this book, I was amazed that Rosie is only 26 years old - she writes with the wisdom and skill of someone much older.
Kate and Max meet at university. They seem unlikely friends. Kate is a sensible woman, from an ‘ordinary’ background. Max is wild and decadent; drinking too much and takes drugs, he comes from a very wealthy family with a townhouse in London and a country mansion. But they strike up an enduring friendship.
When Katie is raped she has to deal with the massive burden of this. She has many people around her, but who does she feel she can turn to? Who will understand and be able to help her? 
What Red Was is a brilliant book, whilst it is full of many traumas, rape, addiction, rejection to name but a few, it is also full of hope.
Thanks to NetGalley for a Kindle copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.
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Almost a story of female strength, friendships and spirit, and the way to continue living when life is interrupted.
But - I wanted more breadth of story, more direct thoughts / experiences of the main characters. It felt a little... ‘light’ in places.
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When we first meet Kate she’s starting university, and feeling rather isolated. She meets Max when he is locked out of his room after showering, and thus starts their friendship.
We follow them through ‘getting to know you’ chats, and a summer break, and watch as they draw closer to family. Their common bonds of languages and filmmaking keep them together. Then Kate is raped at one of Max’s parties, by his cousin. Slowly she withdraws, unable to share what has happened.
Kate’s experience is told candidly, and it seemed to be a sensitive account of how this event affects her.
Unfortunately, there were a lot of other things going on and the relationship with Max’s mum felt like a link too far. While there is some resolution, there’s no neatly packaged ending here and I was concerned by the ending and it’s suggestion of more serious self-harm.
Thanks to NetGalley for allowing me the chance to read this. It was certainly interesting, though not perhaps one I’d recommend lightly.
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This book is brilliant. I went in expecting to be a little bored to be honest. How could a book written by a 26 year old woman have anything to offer 53 year old me? College students. Parties. Excess alcohol consumption & recreational drug taking. Surely this is a YA novel and YA novels (generally speaking) just aren’t for me. But I was wrong and I am so glad I read it. I am amazed that it’s a debut novel. Rosie Price is a very talented writer and I will be reading everything she writes in the future. 
Although the main theme of the book is traumatic and awful, the story is told so well that you’re just carried along. Price writes about difficult subjects in a clear, clean, unemotional way that still manages to convey real , messy, messed up human emotion.  Kate & Max’s story was so believable (how refreshing to have a proper platonic relationship!) and I also enjoyed the subplots involving other members of Max’s family. I would have liked to know a little bit more of Kate’s mother, but don’t feel this took anything from the story. I found myself thinking about the characters when the book wasn’t in my hand & was always eager to get back to them. A favourite sentence - “She had not realised how little care she had taken over her memories”  Timely and relevant, this book is going to be big. 

Thanks to Netgally and to Vintage for giving me the opportunity to read this. 

I will post this review on Amazon and will be talking about this book on Instagram & Twitter.
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Too much tell and not enough show in this coolly recounted debut by young new author Rosie Price. 

Covering the hot topics of an ambiguous rape and the resultant cutting, the victim drip-feeds the name of her known assailant in such a dispassionate style that it's hard to care. There's a confusing cast of characters and I found myself skipping increasingly large chunks.

In Room 101 of a novel-writing course, I believe this yawn-fest would have been called out by the tutor and it's puzzling that it was able to slip through the long-shot lottery. Lucky Rosie Price.

My thanks to Vintage for the review copy via NetGalley.
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What Red Was by Rosie Price is about the friendship between Kate and Max and Kate's unravelling after a trauma.
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Where can you start with Kate and Max? A beautifully raw and real story. Fantastic writing with a plot to match. A really special read
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The writing in this debut novel is amazing and compelling. I found the reactions real and touching. For the writing I would give four our of five stars. However after finishing the novel, a few flaws bothered me.  These are: the book is a sexual assault novel based in a world of privilege which is far removed from most people's lives; the problem of Max's addiction is never fully explored and Kate's mother is a very flat character - I feel that she was a bit forgotten and could have been used better. The plot and characters get a three out of five stars. It's a complex book to review as it brings up many feelings and thoughts. Overall I couldn't wait to pick it up to finish reading it but it troubled me afterwards.
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A deeply hard-hitting, powerfully complex exploration of power, privilege, and consent. 

What begins as a novel about a close friendship quickly turns into an incredibly heart-rendering insight into the aftermath of sexual assault when Katie Quaile's life is suddenly shattered after being raped.

For a debut, Price writes fearlessly and with great skill. Each sentence flows with a genuine rawness offering a gripping yet unflinching narrative on not only the aftermath of the trauma but the effects this has on the mind, body, memories and ultimately the voice. 

A measured yet compelling read, What Read Was is another incredibly timely book that will have people thinking long after the last page.
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There is no shying away from it, this book is about one of the worst violations that can take place. A young woman is raped and has to live with the emotional aftermath as best she can. It's really important to note that this book, while not gratuitous in its handling of the subject matter, also doesn't avoid the stark realities and details that go hand in hand with such an earth shattering experience. So please be warned if this subject matter is triggering for you, there is no dancing around the issue.

So naturally, its an uncomfortable read. The lightness the book starts with (almost like a rom-com in a way until you realise the two main characters are never going to end up as anything other than friends) is shattered about 15% of the way in and after that, its tough, emotional going. The incident itself happens under really believable circumstances, which makes it no less jarring or shocking than if it had been a random attack, But made Kate's subsequent reactions all the more understandable. There are such strong figures to demonstrate that those who know their attackers, even if only through a mutual acquaintance, are far less likely to report, than those who are raped by total strangers.

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Not only does Kate have to deal with the trauma after the fact, but also with the potential that she could bump into her attacker again. That she cannot share what happened to her, and who did it to her is heartbreaking. One of the hardest things to stomach in this book, is seeing the attack from the point of view of the perpetrator. Seeing him rationalise his behaviour is nothing short of sickening and definitely felt like an additional blow to the heart.

But, despite the vivid and raw descriptions of her struggle, Kate's emotional turmoil never got to me. It felt like we were being kept at arms length all the time, like we were watching it from a distance.  When you compare this to the raw, brutal heartbreak I felt at 'Asking for it' it seems tame in comparison.... but then maybe that's an unfair comparison. In that story, she publicly names her attacker and the reaction from those around her is brutal. And actually, its really interesting that while the #metoo movement is so big right now, this is a story about a woman that cannot bring herself to speak out. If I'd felt a little bit closer to Kate's grief and if the ending had been stronger, instead of fizzling out, this would have been utterly excellent. As it is, it's still a really powerful, challenging read - but one that is most definitely worth your time. 
What Red Was was released on 9th May 2019 by Random House UK, Vintage Publishing. 
Big thanks to Netgalley and the Publishers for the free advanced copy in exchange for an honest review.
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A difficult subject matter handled sensitively, “What Red Was” explores a variety of interpersonal relationships and the ripple effects of trauma.
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What Red Was is the sort of book that we should all read at some point in our lives. Particularly poignant in the aftermath of #metoo, it forces the reader to consider sexual assault and its effects and consequences for everyone; not just the victim but their friends, family, colleagues, strangers and society as a whole. 

Following an assault at her close friend Max's party, Kate's life is turned upside down and she has to face life as a different person. Over the coming months and years, she is forced to navigate friendships, family and her career in a body that no longer feels like her own. Brutally honest throughout, What Red Was gives an excellent explanation of what it might feel like to face the future after surviving such a hideous trauma. The ending was satisfying without being a fairytale; unashamedly honest that life for Kate cannot go back to being the way it was before. This is an important read for both men and women, and covers consent, sexual violence and psychological trauma very well.
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(CN: Discussions of rape/sexual assault)

I'm slightly surprised that I haven't heard more about 'What Red Was' considering how timely it is to the #metoo conversation. This is an exceptionally well written book about sexual assault, trauma and the ripples it has across the generations. I have rarely read something which is so on the nose about the ways trauma affects the relationship you have with your body and the way you perceive it, or just how difficult it can be to tell other people about what happened to you (and the ways in which it affects them too.) When you tell someone you've been sexually assaulted, is it still your story? How does it become interpreted by others?

I felt that aspects of this book were done exceptionally well. The relationship between Kate and Max will inevitably be compared to Sally Rooney, but the class elements - as well as the idea of the class interloper - also reminded me of 'The Line of Beauty' by Alan Hollinghurst. I also like the way Price handled the relationship between Kate and Zara, Max's Mum, who is another survivor of sexual assault. Seeing the way that this news triggered her and later went on to impact the decisions she went on to make with her work is something that I've rarely seen in other books of this nature.

I wasn't so keen on the plot lines concerning the brothers and the sale of the house - this often felt like it was an unwanted deviation from the main meat of the plot and did nothing to provide me with any sympathy for them. 

I want more people to talk about 'What Red Was,' because it asks important questions of who to gets to talk about sexual assault and trauma and the effects that these revelations can have. I haven't stopped thinking about it since I read it and I probably won't stop thinking about it for a long time.
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