In this debut British novel, a provincial young woman named Kate attends an elite university, where she grows close to a young man from a wealthy and sophisticated family filled with damaged people—one of whom will hurt Kate in a way that irrevocably alters the course of her life.
Occasionally a debut novel arrives that is so assured, so confident in its voice, so skilful in its plotting and characterization that it seems like the work of a seasoned author. Rosie Price’s What Red Was introduces an exciting new voice to fiction ... an atmosphere of barely contained resentments, rivalries and rage, all of which Price captures with acuity and deft humor ... Narratives are cleverly interwoven to create a richly textured whole. The writing is polished, wise and possessed of remarkable emotional intelligence.
...we’re in the familiar territory of Brideshead Revisited and The Great Gatsby, in which an outsider observes a privileged elite. This story, however, quickly swerves off the well-trodden path into something disturbingly different ... I’m not surprised that there was a fierce bidding war for this novel. Price’s writing has a beautiful assurance, and she describes the after-effects of rape in a way that should make readers question their own prejudices.
From the start the writing is engaging and assured ... This is not a novel concerned with bringing a rapist to justice or destroying the smug insouciance of a privileged family. It’s more interested in how Kate, the victim, deals with her assault ... The strength of the book lies in Price’s ability to delve deep into Kate’s mental anguish ... The novel is not flawless. Although he’s central to the action, Max is a little underwritten ... Small quibbles aside, this is a strong debut by an incredibly young author, an assured and challenging novel that suggests an incipient talent worthy of notice.