WHAT RED WAS
by Rosie Price
(Harvill Secker £12.99, 304 pp) CENTRED on a cross-class friendship struck up at university, this impressive debut from a 26-year-old British writer tackles the subject of sexual violence and its aftermath.
Kate meets fellow student Max when he knocks on her door in a towel, having been locked out of his own room after taking a shower.
She’s from a modest background with a depressive mother she doesn’t speak to; he’s the son of a film director, at the centre of a buzzy social circle that soon becomes Kate’s own.
The free-roaming narrative feels frustratingly baggy at first, distracting us with the ins and outs of Max’s extended family when Kate is the character we care about most.
But it soon gets under your skin, with the unhurried approach earning its keep as the story — involving secrecy, betrayal and self-harm — unspools to explore the repercussions of a crime brought belatedly to light.