Notes on a Scandal, Paperback
3 out of 5 (1 rating)


Shortlisted for the 2003 Man Booker Prize, Zoe Heller's Notes on a Scandal is a darkly compelling novel that explores the taboo subject of pupil/teacher relationships, obsession and betrayal.

From the first day that the beguiling Sheba Hart joins the staff of St George's history teacher Barbara Covett is convinced she has found a kindred spirit.

Barbara's loyalty to her new friend is passionate and unstinting and when Sheba is discovered having an illicit affair with one of her pupils, Barbara quickly elects herself as Sheba's chief defender.

But all is not as it first seems in this dark story and, as Sheba will soon discover, a friend can be just as treacherous as any lover. "Brilliant, nasty, gripping". (Zadie Smith). "Compelling, dark, sexy". (Observer). "Superbly gripping. One of the most compelling books I've read in ages". (Daily Telegraph). "Deliciously sinister". (Daily Mail). Zoe Heller is the author of three novels, Everything You Know, Notes on a Scandal, which was shortlisted for the Man Booker Prize in 2003 and The Believers.

The 2006 film adaptation of Notes on a Scandal, starring Cate Blanchett and Judi Dench, received four Oscar nominations.

She lives in New York.




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Briefly: I admired the craft, but could not love the book. It wasn't that I didn't like any of the characters - that is not a prerequisite for me in a novel. But I didn't care too much what happened to them. And not much actually happens in the book that we don't know about the start. The plot has not moved on. It is a flashback telling of this 'friendship' between these two women, told by Barbara. But she doesn't know much of what has been going on until later on, so while she's telling us the story, she has to keep saying: Of course, at the time, I didn't know that Sheba was doing x and x. Which, for me, was more than a little annoying.Yes, of course, at the end of the day, it's not about Sheba and Connolly, but about Sheba and Barbara, and more about Barbara than Sheba. In her purported telling of the 'scandal' of Sheba, Barbara is in fact telling us about herself, her flaws and her failures in life. And it's done really well. But as she has so few redeeming features, it's hard to care and be moved or even fascinated about her plight, her loneliness etc.In short: Well crafted, but no suspense, hard to care.

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