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Publisher's Summary

A sophisticated and conversation-starting novel of modern love, sexual violence, and toxic inheritance from a brilliant new literary voice

When Kate Quaile meets Max Rippon in the first week of university, so begins a life-changing friendship. 

Over the next four years, the two become inseparable. For him, she breaks her solitude; for her, he leaves his busy circles behind. But knowing Max means knowing his family: the wealthy Rippons, all generosity, social ease, and quiet repression. Theirs is a very different world from Kate’s own upbringing, and yet she finds herself quickly drawn into their gilded lives, and the secrets that lie beneath. Until one evening, at the Rippons' home, just after graduation, her life is shattered apart in a bedroom while a party goes on downstairs. 

What Red Was is an incisive and mesmerizing novel about power, privilege, and consent - one that fearlessly explores the effects of trauma on the mind and body of a young woman, the tyrannies of memory, the sacrifices involved in staying silent, and the courage in speaking out. And when Kate does, it raises this urgent question: Whose story is it now? 

Praise for What Red Was

“[A] masterful, incisive debut...reminiscent of Donna Tartt or Edward St. Aubyn.” (USA Today)

“Dazzling.... This is a book that succeeds in prying open our cultural moment and laying it bare for scrutiny.” (Alexandra Kleeman, author of You Too Can Have a Body Like Mine

“One of the best books I’ve ever read about female rage and transgression...at once incredibly timely and one for the ages.” (Lisa Gabriele, author of The Winters)   

“So assured, so confident in its voice, so skilful in its plotting and characterisation that it seems like the work of a seasoned author...an exciting new voice.” (The Guardian, UK) 

“Powerful… handles its explosive plot with an admirable delicacy”—Publishers Weekly “Thoughtful and observant…Price is a novelist worth watching.” (Kirkus)

“A confident and provocative study of wealth, sexual violence, and complicated friendships...[What Red Was] is a strong debut by an incredibly young author, an assured and challenging novel that suggests an incipient talent worthy of notice.” (The Irish Times)

©2019 Rosie Price (P)2019 Random House Audio

Critic Reviews

“Rosie Price has a dazzling gift for rendering the mechanisms of power and privilege viscerally real. With penetrating insight into the texture of trauma and enthralling prose, this is a book that succeeds in prying open our cultural moment and laying it bare for scrutiny.” (Alexandra Kleeman, author of You Too Can Have a Body Like Mine)

"So assured, so confident in its voice, so skilful in its plotting and characterisation that it seems like the work of a seasoned author.... What Red Was introduces an exciting new voice to fiction.” (The Guardian, UK)

“This powerful novel handles its explosive plot with an admirable delicacy and offers an emotional portrait of friendship.” (Publishers Weekly

What listeners say about What Red Was

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Compelling and poignant

This novel was a wonderful Audible experience. A great story with interesting character dynamics. relatable to anyone who has had fragile family and friend relationships and anyone who has experienced trauma. Excellent narration. I recommend.

1 person found this helpful

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Lovely narrator, but I wish I hadn’t read it

Chosen because it’s a Belletrist Books choice. If I had known how dour, soused with alcohol, blunt, and so very bleak this novel is, I wouldn’t have read it. When I say “soused with alcohol”, I mean the characters are so often drunk out of their minds, getting drunk, planning to drink, or hungover that I feel like I should have a contact high. Were I writing a school paper on it, alcohol would definitely be a theme. 🍺🍷
When I say blunt...this novel is about rape. I was raped, and I don’t generally shy away from material on the subject, save the rape revenge horror movie genre. Guess what is a plot point? That should tell you how very blunt this book is. Also, the main character takes a strong action to try to heal herself that was triggering for me—and that is saying something, considering I don’t even like to throw around the word “trigger”.

2 people found this helpful