Read The Allegations by Mark Lawson Online


From the bestselling author of The Deaths, a hilarious and poignant satire about scandal in modern Britain. On the morning after he has celebrated his 60th birthday party 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 aFrom the bestselling author of The Deaths, a hilarious and poignant satire about scandal in modern Britain.On the morning after he has celebrated his 60th birthday party 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 heart-breakingly captures a contemporary culture in which allegations are easily made and reputations casually destroyed. Asking readers 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....

Title : The Allegations
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ISBN : 30655500
Format Type : Kindle Edition
Number of Pages : 464 Pages
Status : Available For Download
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The Allegations Reviews

  • Susan
    2019-05-10 19:08

    Having enjoyed author, Mark Lawson’s previous novel, “The Deaths,” I was eager to read his new book. This is certainly a very topical read, dealing with accusations against two men, who have been friends for many years. We meet the main characters at, historian and television presenter, Ned Marriott’s sixtieth birthday party; where his friend, history professor, Tom Pimm, gives a speech. Ned is surrounded by his colleagues, friends and family – including partner, and mother of his young son, Emma and his twin daughters, by his first marriage, Dee and Phee. Although the occasion is a happy one, storm clouds are already brewing. Tom mentions concerns about the university both men have worked for, for almost thirty years, and then, the next morning, Ned is arrested… It emerges that Ned has been accused of historical assault charges. As his nightmare begins, Tom finds himself accused of bullying and insubordination. Before they know it both of these, previously successful men, find themselves with their lives put on hold. The author does an excellent job of questioning the recent spate of arrests among public figures, in the wake of the Saville enquiry, without once denigrating the victims who have initiated the charges. When I read, “The Deaths,” many reviews commented on the fact that the main characters were not particularly sympathetic and I do feel that Ned and Tom are similar and may also fail to engage some readers. They are upper middle class, wealthy (Ned’s idea of economising is not automatically hailing a cab) and not necessarily the most politically correct of men at times. For Lawson asks some serious questions here – when does humorous banter become offensive? When, and how, does consent become something to be proved; often many years after the event? Where, in fact, do you draw the line?Although Ned insists that he would prefer to prove his innocence, rather than all men being guilty, and Tom struggles against unnamed accusers, they are initially drawn together by the similar events they are facing. However, as a trial by media (and social media) explodes; especially in Ned’s case, both their relationships and those of their friends and family, come under strain. Each person has a different reaction – some protective, others angry – and the men find themselves in a new world of insomnia and anti depressants; without a career, shunned and under suspicion. While the police obviously has a duty to take accusations seriously, this novel looks at the results of even being accused – publicly accused – while the accusers retain anonymity. Phrases such as ‘no smoke without fire’ are suddenly extremely relevant to our main characters. Again, this is cleverly written and would be an ideal choice for reading groups, with so much to discuss – including whether the men are actually guilty or not. However, I will not ruin your enjoyment of this book by giving any spoilers. Interestingly, author/present Mark Lawson was himself accused of bullying, while presenting a successful, long running show on Radio 4 and was virtually forced into resigning. As such, this is obviously a novel which is very close to his own heart and the fact he writes about the result of being accused with such honesty, while never once placing any blame on those who make historical claims, is a testament to his writing ability. For certainly such claims should be investigated, but possibly there needs to be protection for those who are accused, particularly before any charges have been brought. I found this an extremely interesting read and recommend it highly. I received a copy of this book from the publisher, via NetGalley, for review.

  • Jill
    2019-04-27 20:15

    “Under the spreading chestnut tree/I sold you and you sold me…”Mark Lawson alludes to many literary texts in The Allegations – from Kafka’s The Trial to Mamet’s Oleanna…from Miller’s The Crucible to Philip Roth’s The Human Stain. He does not, however, mention George Orwell’s 1984, where the chestnut tree symbolizes betrayal in the name of justice and honesty.And indeed, The Allegations is about betrayal in the age of political correctness. Ned Marriott, one of Britain’s best-known history professors and TV documentary personalities, is accused by someone in his distant past of sexual assault. At the same time, his funny and sarcastic best friend, Tom Pimm, a much-beloved professor, is accused as well; his charge is bullying and insubordination by petty colleagues. He is told, “The point I’m making, Dr. Pimm, is that if someone felt you were being insensitive, then, to all intents an purposes, you are.”In Ned and Tom’s milieu, students are called “customers” and their fragile sensibilities must be guarded at all costs. And of course, everyone must be oh so politically correct. As Tom says, “Ours is a culture in which allegation is assumed to be fact and the bleating of the self-righteous equals justice. I am haunted by the fact that – in an era where most teachers and writers of History concur that it is unwise to aver with any certainty exactly what happened in the past – the CPS, the police, newspaper columnists, victim support groups and HR departments seem suddenly possessed by twenty-twenty hindsight…”If this seems a mite bit preachy, there’s good reason for it. The author himself was the victim of false accusation and surreally sub-legal process and he was ousted from BBC Radio 4’s Front Row amid claims of bullying. It’s obvious that the experience still stings. As a result, the novel – at times – can be bloated (do we really need all the examples of the damage of allegation in literature) and occasionally, Mark Lawson’s voice seems to slip through.Still, the book is so impressively written – it could be a satire except stuff like this really happens – that it becomes a must-read. The exploration of the guilty-until-proven-guilty, the social media trials, the salacious news reporting, the catalogue of “petulant defamations, slyly redesigned anecdotes and evangelical self-righteousness”, the pampering of spoiled “customers”, the inanity of having each smirk or whisper analyzed, the “historical sexual abuse” (which at the time was dual consent), the PC silliness that has become a hallmark of today’s universities – all of this is brilliantly captured, along with destructions of one’s name and family. With shades of the McCarthy era, the Workplace Harmony commissions are our new witch hunts. This book really hits its target. 4.5 stars.

  • Roman Clodia
    2019-05-01 23:31

    A mixed and somewhat controversial read that elicited a dual response from me: I loved the satire of the 'bullying' story-line as HR-gone-mad manage to accuse a good university lecturer who has won plaudits from his students of 'harrassment' for sighing and rolling his eyes at dull departmental meetings. There's a bit more to it than that, of course, but this captures some of the frustrations of PC-ness going crazy. As a university lecturer myself, I'm pleased to say that I didn't recognise any of the thinking articulated in my own institution but I could imagine it, all the same, in many other public sector organisations.The second strand sat less well with me: another lecturer (in the same department, no less) is accused of two historical cases of rape. Now I'm not saying that men might not be falsely accused but these cases are probably outnumbered by a large percentage by cases where women are too scared or ashamed or humiliated to report a rape and it felt irresponsible, to me, to have a popular novel depicting cases where we're invited to side with the (falsely-accused) man, especially when we get to see the events from his point of view. The last thing women (and men) need is to have rape accusations being debunked and shown to be illusionary as may be the case here.Lawson is very good on the problems of historical sexual crimes and brings a dark and bitter humour to both storylines: but the approach to the rape narrative left me feeling offended and yes, angry: 3.5 stars.

  • Michelle
    2019-04-30 20:09

    I loved Lawson's 'The Deaths' and this was even better. A very modern novel, and one that demands a lot of its reader, but also then offers a lot of reward. There is much to reflect up, and the book covers some tricky subjects, but deftly so. Cleverly-written and a very intelligent read. Looking forward to Lawson's next book.

  • Mary Lou
    2019-05-18 16:25

    Professor Ned Marriott and Dr Tom Pimm, are friends and colleagues in the History department at UME (University of Middle England). Their lives are abruptly changed by massive personal crises. Professor Marriott is questioned by officers involved with Operation Millpond about historical sex abuses, while Dr Pimm is accused of bullying and harassment within the department- victims and offences undisclosed. Ned quickly starts to live the nightmare which is trial by the press and social media, while Tom sinks in the swamp of his Kafka-esque circumstances.Mark Lawson takes a successful swipe at a society which, in overcompensating for historical neglect of the victims of sex crimes now forgets the presumption of innocence, and at HR departments, whose zeal for a climate of blamelessness in the workplace leaves, instead, a wasteland with gobbledygook for rules.Initially, this reader could hear the voice of Mark Lawson but the characters and the plot came quickly into their own, becoming more and more engrossing. This book forces the taking of sides, swinging back and forth between alleged victims and wrongdoers, but even Tom Pimm who really provides no further justification for his cruel superior attitude other than thes wickedly entertaining argumentative skills in evidence at his hearing, elicits sympathy, so it is no surprise where the pendulum stops.The inclusion of longish dissections of the comparative trial and morals literature which Ned studies, with little else to do, feels a bit overdone. There is disappointment too at the lack of any justice applied to Dominic Ogg, but does justice even exist here for anyone. Otherwise this is a chilling, entertaining and thought provoking novel, and a must read.This book was provided by NetGalley from PanMacmillan

  • Jill Meyer
    2019-05-04 17:01

    British author Mark Lawson's new novel, "The Allegations", was a tough book to read and an even tougher book to review. Because, how do I review a book that takes a stand against something I think is, in principle, the right thing being done in society? Lawson's book centers on two men - Ned Marriott and Tom Pimm - both professors at the "University of Middle England", who are being accused of crimes they probably did commit. However, the crimes Pimm is accused of are brought by the university in a witch hunt against teachers who are considered "un-PC". Pimm is accused and "tried" by committee before he is even accused of the crimes - most of which are laughing at his fellow teachers - both to their faces and behind their backs - AND, verbally bullying his "customers", the new word for "students" at the university. No sexual stuff - all verbal. Ned Marriott is being investigated by the cops for two old ("historic") sexual crimes. These last are from an investigation following the Jimmy Savile exposes. Mark Lawson, an author and presenter on British Radio Arts and was himself recently accused of "bullying" his workmates and freelancers at the BBC. I presume he was cleared as he is still on the air, as written on Wiki, though taken off one of his previous programs, "Front Row". So Lawson's novel is not only about his own bout with accusations, but he extends it to allegations of sexual impropriety of a second man and places it in the university world of "PCness". He looks on both accused men and their lives before and during the periods of the investigations and includes bits of novels and plays which refer to men unjustly accused, as well as the Kafka-esque world of the university.Mark Lawson doesn't suffer fools gladly and his take down of both the university officials and the police investigators is both chilling and humorous, sometimes both at the same time. He also gives a good picture on how the pressures of the "allegations" affected both men, their families, and their friends. And to return to what I wrote in my first paragraph; I do believe such allegations should be investigated. But how ineptly and meanly, with the accusers believed implicitly...and the accused not believed and not able to defend themselves before verdicts are rendered, as in this book. "The Allegations" is an excellent book and, though long, might actually be a good book-club book.

  • Laura Spira
    2019-04-27 21:01

    This is a brave book. It explores the impact on two academics of allegations made about their behaviour and although entirely fictional it has some resonance with the experiences of the author, which he addresses in an afterword. I found it quite painful to read, as it so closely reflects the sad developments in the academic environment I know well. Tom's spiky humour is not at all unusual and the humourless reaction of some of his colleagues, used to great political effect by ambitious managers, is no surprise. Lawson's anger shines through but there is sufficient balance among the reactions of the characters to turn what could have been a fierce polemic into a more nuanced analysis. It is also a clever book. Placing the academics in a history department raises some fundamental questions about what history is and how it is used. Some readers might find Lawson's demonstration of his literary knowledge through the protagonists' reading to be irritating or heavy-handed but I enjoyed the way in which he demonstrated the links between the story and other fictional examinations of similar situations. He writes well and there were some entertaining scenes but I was left feeling depressed.

  • Mandy
    2019-04-30 16:22

    This is an exceptionally interesting and gripping read – and a heartfelt one. It follows the fortunes of two academics, one of whom is accused of an historical sexual assault, the other of departmental bullying and harassment. Based to some extent on Lawson’s own experience the book examines our contemporary culture of blame and accusation and our inability as a society to sort fact from fiction. I found the novel thoughtful and thought-provoking, often shocking, sometimes darkly funny, topical, relevant, insightful and intelligent, a considered approach to our obsession with political correctness and our apparent eagerness to always believe the “victim” and judge the accused guilty without a fair hearing. Mark Lawson spells out a salutary lesson for us all in this well-written, well-constructed and well-paced novel, and I’d like to see it made compulsory reading, particularly for those who are all too ready to believe everything they read, see and hear in the media.

  • Pgchuis
    2019-05-09 00:02

    3.5* rounded up.Ned Marriott, a history professor and presenter of TV documentaries, is arrested on charges of rape, relating to alleged events which took place 38 and 10 years ago respectively. His colleague, Tom Pimm, is dismissed from his university post for bullying and insubordination, although he is not entitled to know the identities of his accusers and is not entitled to due legal process.The novel is about the effect of the allegations on the lives of Ned and Tom and those around them. It explores various issues, including whether if some one takes offence then the other person has automatically been offensive, whether men should be judged in the light of the culture of today for actions they took decades ago and whether "innocent until proven guilty" has any meaning any longer with the court of public opinion/social media pronouncing sentence. There are also various sections where the two men read and muse on literature (e.g. Kafka's "Trial") where a protagonist is unjustly accused of a crime.I wanted to like this novel more than I did. I found it very readable, although there were some editing issues (we are told on three separate occasions about the approach Emma and her book club take to reading novels and then later Ned tries to persuade Emma to have sex with him one page before we are told of his "complete loss of libido").Tom's dilemma was extremely well portrayed, I thought. He was clearly his own worst enemy (should have stayed in his union) and I found it far easier to sympathize with him than with Ned. Ned was such an unpleasant character, again lacking in self-awareness, claiming he had learnt how important it was to make sure a woman is really consenting, when his dealings with Emma would tend to undermine this. Overall the story was very male centred; we had Cordelia to provide a more distanced perspective, but we had been encourage to dislike her as a bully to her sister. Emma and more particularly Helen are quite opaque. Although sections are told from their perspective they never really came alive to me. Why did Ogg behave as he did to Ned? Was it Neades or Agate who was out to get Tom? Despite the humour, I found this book a bit self-pitying and I wanted to tell Ned and Tom that they brought the allegations on themselves, even if not directly.

  • Damaskcat
    2019-05-20 20:31

    I read some good reviews of this novel and the blurb intrigued me. Professor Ned Marriott, university history professor and television personality, is recovering from celebrating his sixtieth birthday when there is a knock on the door and he is confronted by police officers from 'Operation Millpond' investigating historical complaints of sexual abuse. To say Ned is surprised is an understatement. He cannot think of anything he has done which could cause them to want to question him.Leaving his partner, Emma, shocked and dismayed he is taken in for questioning. He isn't arrested and he returns home later in the day. He would normally turn to his friend Tom Pimm, a colleague at the university, but Tom has his own problems as a secret investigation has resulted in complaints made against him by anonymous victims of bullying sarcasm and insubordination. He has been suspended pending the hearing of his appeal.Both men suddenly find their lives turned upside down and must find a way of dealing with the situation. The book consists of conversations, supposed newspapers articles and e-mails as well as comments on various forms of literature in which people are accused unjustly. It is one of those books which just draws you in and I found my sympathy veering from one character to another. Right from the start I found I was asking questions about the characters.I did not warm to Tom at all as he makes a joke of anything and everything and has an unpleasant line in biting sarcasm which can grate on the most even tempered people. I've worked, and lived with people with similar traits. I felt rather more sympathy for Ned though I realised he had a somewhat skewed idea of how to behave with women. This book raises so many questions about human behaviour and relationships that it probably needs more than one reading to appreciate fully. It will make an ideal book club read and I can see that discussions would be lively. The book caused me to question events in my own life and the current trend for accusing people in the headlines of abuse. It shows what can happen when accusations are made whether true or false. This is a really excellent novel and deserves to win prizes. I received a free copy of this book from NetGalley for review.

  • Shalini
    2019-04-21 20:05

    Lawson launches a scathing attack on the modern heightened morality, piety and social- media mob trial within a large social institution. It is the story of two history dons, one accused of inappropriate sexual behaviour and another of bullying and harassment. It highlights the flaws of the system, the inherent dumbing down and over simplification of human complexities and death of constructive debate as well as the devastating impact on the lives of the accused. The humorous, slightly boisterous style and the literary comparisons make it a very good read.

  • Beverley
    2019-05-14 00:16

    A page-turner. It concerns two academics coping with unexpected allegations against their conduct. With dark humour and wit throughout, Lawson's own experiences help shine a perceptive light on a culture that has begun to veer away from the innocent until proven guilty modus operandi, on the clumsy bedfellows of business and education, and on the damning effects of social media hash-tagging. Thought provoking, interestingly referenced, and thoroughly enjoyable.

  • Joseph Reynolds
    2019-05-17 23:19

    Lacks narrative drive. Some set pieces are great, but Lawson burdens the plot with too much baggage. Occasional excess of characters, you see that a lot nowadays. Well-written and intriguing, but zero pace or even development. Occasionally funny. I'd like to give it three stars, but I wanted to drop it at so many junctures that I can't. Lawson hints in epilogue that he has a memoir in him that may mirror some of the injustices of the novel. Now that might be better.

  • Bw Johnson
    2019-04-24 19:26

    As good as 'The Deaths.' A very satisfying read in this 'Age of Accusation' and 'Culture of Comeuppance.' As someone who works in education, some bits are scarily accurate in terms of the accuser always being 'holy' as well. Recommended.

  • Anne Fenn
    2019-05-02 19:15

    Two main characters, Ned and Tom, work in academia in the UK. Ned also has some celebrity status from his TV series. He suddenly faces charges of historic sexual assault , while his friend Tom has workplace bullying issues. The novel follows the effect the internal investigation has on their personal lives, families included. You can see it's a very modern problem, affected by things like celebrity, Twitter, life in post Jimmy Savile Britain. This sounds pretty dark, but the author has a way with very clever dialogue to lighten the mood to something closer to surrealism at times. Tom's hearing before a panel is the most entertaining part. The sexual nature of Ned's story is tricky to handle and I was troubled by the way this played out. I wasn't surprised to read the author had personal experience of bullying charges himself, the men are portrayed with some sympathy. On the positive side, it's very topical, drawing out what a crazy world we live in. However, I found it very long, with little forward movement of the plot at times.

  • Tracy
    2019-05-09 19:07

    Enjoyed this book thoroughly. It is a book with a very modern theme and very relevant to how things are within our society at the moment. The plot relates to the paranoia about the recent spate of celebrities who have assaulted young people or women and the hysteria that the press has now whipped up over this. Each of the characters were a mix of likeable and at times annoying.There were moments of humour. Moments of sadness. Moments that really make the reader stop and think about their own thoughts on this issue.I would recommend it to anyone who enjoys current affairs.

  • Marijke Vansteenkiste
    2019-04-30 21:24

    Interessant en heel goed geschreven! Zet je aan het denken. Een slim boek.

  • Rosalind
    2019-05-18 19:26

    Too many literary references for me to enjoy more. It felt too much like I was reading a text book at times.

  • Jo
    2019-05-03 20:08

    Loved the multiple parallel allegations

  • Roger Williams
    2019-05-19 22:19

    Hateful characters. Felt like abandoning it midway. They all deserved locking up

  • Shahedah
    2019-05-10 22:18


  • Isabelle Leinster
    2019-05-12 21:10

    I enjoyed this book. It's clever and witty and very topical.

  • Ian Brydon
    2019-05-12 17:24

    Although he is principally known as a journalist and broadcaster, Mark Lawson is also a very accomplished novelist, and this latest book will serve to boost that reputation further. Until a couple of years ago Lawson was the lead presenter on BBC Radio 4’s daily arts review programme, Front Row, in which he demonstrated his eclectic knowledge across a variety of genres, and showed that one did not have to subside into flaccid sycophancy when interviewing artists. He was, however, moved from that show with relatively little notice, with rumours attributing his removal to allegations of bullying. That clearly rankled, though I suppose everything in life is potentially valuable copy for a novelist, and his experiences have clearly informed this marvellous novel.There are two closely intertwined plots. In the principal storyline, Ned Marriott, a celebrated television historian, known for his controversial takes on familiar historical events, finds himself arrested on the day following his sixtieth birthday, accused of an unusual variation of a historical instance of sexual assault stretching back nearly forty years to the sweltering summer of 1976, when Ned was still a postgraduate student. Ned’s world starts to unravel as the police pursue their investigations, confiscating all his family’s computers, tablets and mobile telephones. Never a complete stranger to hypochondria anyway, Ned’s health suffers and he finds himself on a heady cocktail of anti-depressants and blood pressure medications. Lawson’s portrayal of a bewildered and frightened man having to inform his family (grown up twin daughters from a first marriage, a nine-year-old son from his current relationship and his ageing mother and stepfather) of the charges laid against him is adroit. Ned’s life seems fixed permanently on hold while the police continue to delve into his past. It takes a while before Ned’s name comes into the public domain, but once it does, it creates a huge stir across social media. He also finds himself in the hitherto unfamiliar position of no longer being wanted as a television pundit.Meanwhile Tom Pimm, Ned’s closest friend, and fellow academic in the history faculty of the University of Middle England (with twin campus sites in Coventry and Buckinghamshire), finds himself the subject of an investigation into allegations of bullying. Tom is certainly a pedant, given to feelings of intellectual superiority over some of the less gifted among his academic colleagues, but he is aghast at the thought that he might be a bully. He is soon finding himself a victim, however, as anonymous accusations are stacked against him. Both find themselves on suspension while their respective investigations drag on. Lawson uses the investigation into Tom Pimm to lampoon hollow management jargon and over-eager political correctness, but the Kafkaesque procedure (Lawson offers an instructive course in the literature of false or groundless accusation throughout the work as both Ned and Tom find themselves increasingly obsessed with literary paradigms of their own circumstances) is chilling. Internal disciplinary procedures are necessary but can bring their own terrors if not handled sensitively. Meanwhile the shadow of Operation Yew Tree looms oppressively over the whole story.The linked plots are delicately balanced, and complement each other. While the description of the scenario may sound sombre, the novel is extremely funny: gallows humour from both Ned and Tom, and crushing satire about the over commercialisation of universities, where students are now referred to as customers, and where a lecturer is criticised for pitching his lectures at too clever a level. All in all a great success – if anything, I found it even better than Lawson’s last novel, The Deaths, which was one of my favourite books from the year it was published.

  • Latkins
    2019-05-20 18:12

    In this novel, two friends and colleagues from the history department of a university are disgraced. One, Ned, is famous for being a TV historian and writing a series of books. The day after his 60th birthday he's arrested for a 'historic' sexual assault. Meanwhile, his friend Tom is accused of bullying at work and is suspended. This is a very interesting take on the recent arrests of many public figures for 'historic' sex offences (as is pointed out by pedant Tom in this book, the terms should really be 'historical'). Although some of these figures have gone to prison, others have been cleared, and yet can never escape the taint of the accusations against them. It's also interesting as Mark Lawson himself was dismissed from his job on BBC Radio 4's 'Front Row' over accusations of bullying, so I'm sure that this informed the case against Tom.Overall, I really enjoyed this book - it's very readable, and darkly funny in places as both Ned and Tom come to terms with the bizarre machinations of the cases against him. Tom isn't even allowed to hear what the charges against him are unless he appeals, which he does, and even then the charges are strange and unproven. Obviously, Kafka's 'The Trial' comes to mind.I did think that the book was a bit overlong, there are pieces throughout in which Tom and Ned read 'the literature of disgrace' - books and plays in which a character falls from grace as they have (including 'The Trial', of course). I wasn't sure if these bits were really necessary - great books for the most part, but they only seemed to show how well read Mark Lawson is. Neither Tom nor Ned are very nice characters; I didn't like Ned at all and found it hard to sympathise with him. Tom I found rather funny, and I loved his pedantry and hatred for corporate cliches, though I wouldn't have liked work with him either! The parts in which Tom is basically told he's not allowed to be 'clever' at a university, and that he mustn't upset the 'customers' (students) by giving them bad grades when their work was poor was a little disturbing, as I have no doubt that this has happened at some universities.SPOILER ALERT!The only other thing which annoyed me a bit was the snobbiness of the characters - they seemed to think that the general public (TV viewers, juries, etc) are very stupid and ignorant. I particularly disliked the snide references to jurors as my partner recently worked as a juror. He got on well with all his fellow jurors, and they were all intelligent people who carefully considered the case before them. There's also a bit toward the end where Ned goes into the Big Brother house and the young, famous people he's in there with are portrayed as being very thick, which I thought was harsh. And, throughout, Twitter is referred to as a place for idiots. Yes, Twitter can be brutal and there are a lot of nasty and stupid people on there, but, like any medium, it can also be used in a good way. Most people on Twitter are just connecting with other people and not being abusive, only a few do that.Having said all this, I do think this is a good novel, which throws up a lot of interesting points about the culture of blame we have in today's society. And there are a few nice twists in the plot towards the end which I enjoyed.

  • Sid Nuncius
    2019-04-29 21:12

    I thought this was a very good book. It is very readable, Mark Lawson is a very acute observer of modern society and he raises important issues.The story is of two colleagues in the History Department (now "Directorate") of a fictitious University. One is accused by the institution of Bullying and Insubordination, while another is investigated by the police because of an historical accusation of rape. The way in which these two things are handled and their effect on those involved is very well done. Cleverly, neither character is particularly likeable, and one has behaved very sordidly in the past, which lends the story greater weight. It is intercut with one character reading the literature of false accusation – Kafka, Böll, Miller and others – and their respective situations are well compared and contrasted with it.It is hard to say much about the plot itself without giving away more than I would like to have known before starting the book, but the university's investigation into Bullying ("The Process") is wittily but chillingly depicted. Lawson is especially good on the use of language; complainants being automatically designated as "victims" before any investigation, for example, or the evolution of departmental title from Personnel to Human Resources to People to Workplace Harmony. This is a world (all too familiar) in which wit, irony, nuance or complexity are utterly unrecognised, and debate or criticism are readily designated as "bullying." Lawson gets the use of management-speak very acutely in the way in which, like Owell's Newspeak, it is designed to make any dissenting thought (and sometimes any thought at all) impossible – and what happens when an academic institution defines itself as a "business" in pursuit of "customers" who must be satisfied. The Process is tellingly described by a character from Workplace Harmony as "robust…fit for purpose," but by another academic as "processes as questionable to the humane as they are apparently unquestioned by the mob." Lawson points out that just as it is unacceptable to dismiss dreadful harassment and genuine bullying as "banter," it is also possible to misuse the term "bullying" to suppress any debate or inconvenient truth-telling.The plot surrounding the rape allegations is more problematic. This is bound to provoke dispute and I see that the excellent Roman Clodia , whose views I respect greatly, says in her review here that she was made angry by Lawson's approach. I wasn't – but then I'm acutely aware here that I'm not female. However, I do think it's legitimate to raise the issue. Rape is among the vilest and most damaging of crimes, so does widening its definition to such an extent unfairly brand people as rapists, and ultimately weaken the dreadfulness of the crime in the public mind?I don't mean to turn this into an essay, so I'll stop. As a novel, I think this is readable, witty in places, very serious in others and raises important issues. It is perhaps a little over-long, but I still found it engrossing right up to the end and I can recommend it warmly.

  • Sue
    2019-04-21 17:27

    The history boys.Mark Lawson gives us the timely story of Professor Ned Marriott, a mildly famous TV presenter of history documentaries, now facing ‘historic charges’ of sexual assault. History v. herstory, as it were. Pending the outcome of the case, Ned is on suspension from his post at the University of Middle England (great name) where his friend and colleague, Tom Pimm, has also been suspended following allegations of bullying and insubordination (in reality: biting wit, withering sarcasm and not suffering fools gladly).As well as being a laudably even-handed addition to what Lawson calls “the literature of false accusation”, this novel is also vastly entertaining - particularly in its side-swipes about political correctness gone mad. The chapters wherein Tom Pimm argues his case with WH – Workplace Harmony being the new HR – are blisteringly brilliant. Jani, the university’s humour-lobotomised WH representative and David, the corporate-speak WH robot may be easy meat for a satirist as sharp as Mark Lawson but when pitched against Tom’s erudite scorn, I defy any reader to have more fun with a serious novel this year.

  • Becky
    2019-05-17 17:02

    A really interesting look at the concept of trial by media and by public opinion. The focus is on two respected historians who are separately accused of 'offences'. The details of the charges are blown out of all proportion by the official need to be seen to be tough in cases of bullying or sexual assault, and once the general public have their say, the reputations of both men are damned beyond all hope of repair. The book is obviously strongly influenced by actual events, as Lawson makes clear in his afterword, anyone who has read So You've Been Publicly Shamed will recognise the final scene. At no point does the book diminish actual victims of abuse or bullying; but it does level strong, and in my opinion, entirely justified criticism against the current trends to shift the burden of proof away from the prosecution and onto the accused in the case of some types of allegation. It also highlights the dangers of judging history by the standards of today, standards which are often massively at variance to anything that contemporaries would recognise. This is a very well crafted book, and I highly recommend it as an intelligent summer read.

  • Ann Tonks
    2019-05-07 20:01

    Although elements of this book irritated me (too many literary cross-references; too didactic) and even though I felt somewhat uncomfortable engaging with the protagonist accused of sexual misdeeds, I was so delighted by the satirical twist on the University professor who gets fired that I have given 4 stars for that section alone. Anyone who has worked in a University - particularly in an HR or management position - should read this book.

  • Karen Ross
    2019-05-19 16:06

    Excellent. Thought-provoking. Beautifully accomplished piece of work. Interesting narrative structure and messing with timelines that should not work, but does. Credible characters. And award-worthy denunciation of what is happening in our universities. One of my favourite books of the year. Hugely recommended.

  • ST
    2019-04-29 22:14

    Loved this. Insightful, challenging, humorous. Great great characters. Loved Tom in particular.