In Your Defence by Sarah Langford is a non-fiction book which really makes you think. A genuine treat.
I’m a big fiction gal as I’d rather live in a world of make-believe, and it takes something special for me to pick up a non-fiction book. When I saw this book on an advert on the tube, I knew it was going to be a real game changer.
Sarah Langford is a barrister. It is her job to stand in court, representing the mad and the bad, the vulnerable, the heartbroken and the helpful. She must become their voice: weave their story around the black and white of the law and tell it to the courtroom.
Sarah describes eleven cases that reveal what goes on in our criminal and family courts. She examines how she feels as she defends the person standing in the dock. She tells compelling stories – of domestic fallout, everyday burglary, sexual indiscretion, and children caught up in the law – that are sometimes shocking and often heart-stopping.
She shows how our attitudes and actions can shape not only the outcome of a case, but the legal system itself. And her book asks us to consider, in our increasingly polarized world, what is truth, and what is justice.
These stories may not make headlines, but they will change the lives of ordinary people in extraordinary ways. They are stories which, but for a twist of luck, might be yours.
I’ll be talking about the stories inside this for years to come.
It took me a few days to write this review (which is a long time for me). And that’s solely down to the awe I hold for Langford. I can imagine it being similar to This is Going to Hurt by Adam Kay (which I assume won’t be my cup of coffee), but with a little background and knowledge of the law, I knew this book was going to be something else.
From the anecdotes, to the author’s voice and points of view, the design and even the name of the book – In Your Defence was better than I could ever have imagined.
I was expecting it to be quite impersonal and full of legal jargon, which it wasn’t in the slightest. I adored the way Langford writes, as she allows you to become fully immersed in every word. I could picture standing in a hallway or a court beside her and feel the emotions which came along with it.
In Your Defence takes you on a journey of eleven cases, all with the legislation and sections to go along with it at the beginning of the chapter. I learnt what is was like from Langford’s point of view, and also may or may not have cried a little (I did).
I also loved the fact that I could read one story and because they were separated clearly and with no link, I could put it down for a few hours and return to the next story. I only did this once because I sped through it, but you know, I could have if I wanted to.
I know In Your Defence is going to be all over my social media platforms for months to come, so here’s a few final words:
- The ending was so beautiful – I just want to shake Langford’s hand;
- This is a book for everyone’s shelves – whether you have an interest in the law or not – it will enrich your life;
- The personality which came across is just beautiful. I loved how personal and rich in detail it was.
- I would’ve happily read hundreds of more pages.
I really don’t know how else to explain this book, but I agree with Helena Kennedy QC’s quote on the front – It made my heart sing too.
Plus – it’s written by a female. Big 10/10 just for that.
Bookmark That stamp of approval. I’ll be talking about the stories inside this for years to come.
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In Your Defence, Sarah Langford, RRP £16.99 (hardback); Book Depository
Pages: 320 (although I’d like 1000 more, please)
Publisher: Transworld Publishers