“The Spoiler” by Annalena McAfee

thespoiler.jpegThis is a timely novel about the British press, coming as it does in the throes of the Murdoch scandals as well as the folding of the long-time “News of the World.” It’s a hard-hitting story with a surprise ending, quite in keeping with the drama of the whole book.

Annalena McAfee, wife of the renowned writer Ian McEwan, writes about two women journalists, one a distinguished war correspondent with a wide reputation, just turned eighty, and the other a 30-year old correspondent for a weekend entertainment supplement for which she compiles lists of who’s in and who’s out of the news with the emphasis on personal scandals. When the junior writer goes to interview the famous writer, their backgrounds are so different they can hardly talk to each other. The senior woman maintains silence on her personal life but this does not stop the junior from an incredible adventure of spying on her.

Journalists always talk about “putting the paper to bed.” In this book it is their turn. In a rollicking revealing story the junior writer does turn up some shocking background, but this in turn backfires on her own driving ambitions. The whole story is set against the added threat of the Internet usurping the newspapers as this cast has known them and altogether makes for a fascinating read.

Review by Anne McDougall