Notes on a Scandal, Paperback Book
4.5 out of 5 (2 ratings)


Film tie-in edition of Zoe Heller's darkly compelling Booker shortlisted novel.

The film of Notes on a Scandal received four Oscar nominations and stars Cate Blanchett and Judi Dench.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 MailZoe 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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Neither of the two main characters in Heller's novel are instantly likeable. The narrator, Barbara, tells the story of her friend - Sheba - and her affair with one of her pupils. Barbara is middle aged, lonely and desperate to make and keep Sheba the closest of companions. Through Heller's perfectly written character study, we grow to empathise with and root for Barbara, whilst never actually going as far as seeing her as someone actually desirable to have as a friend.Sheba, on the other hand, is an outgoing and confident character with a personality more youthful than her age. As she admits at one point, marrying an older man has kept her always feeling the younger member of her social circle.This is a story of adultery, and of more than one betrayal, but ultimately its message is that mistakes are easy to make. Frighteningly easy. Sheba is simply bumbling her way through life, never seeming to fully comprehend the depth of the hole she has managed to dig herself.The book is a fascinating study of relationships, what it means to trust somebody, what it means to love somebody and how very differently two people can view the relationship they have.

Review by

The best book with an unreliable narraator that I have read. Morally ambiguous and you're never quite sure who the predator is, and who the prey.

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