On the morning after he has celebrated his 60th birthday at a celebrity-filled party, Ned Marriott is in bed with his partner, Emma, when there's a knock on the door. Detectives from the London police force's Operation Millpond have come to arrest him over an allegation of sexual assault.
Ned is one of the country's best-known historians - teaching at a leading university, advising governments and making top-rating TV documentaries - but this historic claim from someone the cops insist on calling 'the victim' threatens him with personal and professional ruin and potential imprisonment.
Professor Marriott would normally turn for support to Tom Pimm, his closest friend at the university, but Tom has just been informed that a secret investigation has raised anonymous complaints which may end Dr Pimm's career. Swinging between fear, bewilderment and anger, Ned and Tom must try to defend themselves against the allegations and hope that no others are made. The two men's families and friends are forced to question what they know and think. Can the complainants, detectives, HR teams, journalists and tweeters who are driving the stories all be seeing smoke that has no fire behind it?
By turns shocking and comic, reportorial and thoughtful, The Allegations startlingly and heartbreakingly captures a contemporary culture in which allegations are easily made and reputations casually destroyed. Asking listeners to decide who they believe, it explores a modern nightmare that could happen, in some way, to anyone whose view of personal history may differ from someone else's.
For fans of David Lodge, Mark Lawson's The Allegations is poignant because of the author's recent life and shameful treatment by the BBC. The theme of what it means to be a victim is closely looked at with great skill and insight; all too relevant in today's headlines. The characters are fascinating and very well drawn with great humour.
The BBC's loss (and therefore that of the listeners) is the gain of the literary audience, though the crossover is immense. Let's hope Lawson wastes no time beginning the next novel in what will be, I hope, the beginning of a prolific and much appreciated writing career. Short of Sky Arts and a Podcast series, this must, I hope, be a certainty.
What fools the BBC are.
A brilliant listen to which you will return again and again. Already favourite.
5 of 6 people found this review helpful
Peter Kenny is a pleasing narrator who contrasts narrative and dialogue well and effectively communicates Mark Lawson’s individual style. Characters are clearly differentiated and created credibly with the changing moods captured.
This novel is a powerful indictment of the hysterical madness into which our society has descended. Whilst engaging in a profoundly serious contemporary topic, it is humorous and witty in presenting a vivid picture of a culture which now accepts allegations as fact without any need for evidence; a society which portrays the accuser as “victim”, failing to see that the real victim is the person who has been wrongly accused; a society in which the potential malevolence of social media can destroy lives in a second; a society in which trust in the integrity of the police has vanished; in which the voices of authority actively encourage the unscrupulous opportunistic, the malicious and the cynical to make allegations – allegations which cannot possibly be substantiated decades after the supposed crime. And the incredibly unjust shift of opinion which permits punishment for behaviour not remotely considered as ‘criminal’ when it took place thirty or more years ago. I was completely caught up in Ned’s suffering and the appallingly stupid, dangerous situation into which our country has plunged in the wake of Jimmy Saville. Very well done, Mark. “The Allegations” is a wake-up call to be shouted from the rooftops and your name and background provide a suitably respected platform. A moving, disturbing, thought provoking book.
3 of 4 people found this review helpful
This is an intellectually challenging story of accusations and the struggles they engender. It is written in an orginal style and to a very high standard. I didn't really engage with any of the characters, but was, nevertheless transported along by the interesting directions taken by the story. It loses one star for me, as I found it rather long winded in places.
The narration here is exceptionally good, with Kenny showing a remarkable ability to distinguish between story narrative and character dialogue. Each character is truly brought to life. I will look out for this accomplished narrator in the future.
2 of 3 people found this review helpful
I really like this author but this definitely not his best work. That's entirely subjective of course; don't get put off if you're thinking about it. It felt as though the author was trying to make a grand point about modern witch hunts but in the end it felt too trivial and I'm not sure he succeeded. Could not get that worried about fate of rather bland characters. Felt the ending was rather silly. But not bad. Well enough narrated but the narrator descended into putting on voice for characters; his Ulster voice rather wide of mark, shall we say...
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A really intelligent story which gives an insight into the crazy times we live in. Despite the seriousness of the subject matter, the writing is very witty indeed. I really felt for the two main characters involved, Ned and Tom. Overall, thoroughly worth listening to!
Witty and "laugh out loud" in places with an excellent narration by Peter Kenny (one of my favorite narrators), this tale of current, politically correct accountability and sexual conduct has no fairy tale ending. Having been drawn in to outrage over the nature of the allegations you are left reflecting on the conduct that has led to them being made.
Very much a novel of our times.
2 of 5 people found this review helpful