What Was She Thinking? [Notes on a Scandal]

What Was She Thinking Notes on a Scandal Schoolteacher Barbara Covett has led a solitary life until Sheba Hart the new art teacher at St George s befriends her But even as their relationship develops so too does another Sheba has begun an

Schoolteacher Barbara Covett has led a solitary life until Sheba Hart, the new art teacher at St George s, befriends her But even as their relationship develops, so too does another Sheba has begun an illicit affair with an underage male student When the scandal turns into a media circus, Barbara decides to write an account in her friend s defense and ends up revealingSchoolteacher Barbara Covett has led a solitary life until Sheba Hart, the new art teacher at St George s, befriends her But even as their relationship develops, so too does another Sheba has begun an illicit affair with an underage male student When the scandal turns into a media circus, Barbara decides to write an account in her friend s defense and ends up revealing not only Sheba s secrets, but also her own.

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What Was She Thinking? [Notes on a Scandal]

  1. Zoe Heller was born in London in 1965 and educated at Oxford University and Columbia University, New York She is a journalist who, after writing book reviews for various newspapers, became a feature writer for The Independent She wrote a weekly confessional column for the Sunday Times for four years, but now writes for the Daily Telegraph and earned the title Columnist of the Year in 2002 She is the author of three novels Everything You Know 2000 , a dark comedy about misanthropic writer Willy Miller, Notes on a Scandal 2003 which tells the story of an affair between a high school teacher and her student through the eyes of the teacher s supposed friend, Barbara Covett and her latest The Believers 2008 Zoe Heller lives in New York.

480 Reply to “What Was She Thinking? [Notes on a Scandal]”

  1. An unforgiving, cold eyed, wickedly beautiful little book A warning if you have ever been crushingly lonely particularly if you have, on occasion, feebly attempted to rationalize that loneliness as a burden of your superior and isolating intelligence then I suspect that you, like me, will feel personally filleted by certain passages in this book.Here s an example of Heller s brutally precise understanding of this manner of loneliness what strikes me in this passage is how elegantly, how unsentim [...]

  2. 4.5 Stars.This is so good Passion,Jealousy,Loneliness,Friendship,Forbidden relationship,Manipulation,And brilliant story telling.I watched the film years ago and the book is even better I m not sure I could categorize what this is People always want to boil these things down, don t they I want to recapture my lost youth He wants experience I m forcing him into it He s forcing me into it He feels sorry for me I feel sorry for him But it s never that simple, is it One woman s secret,Is another wom [...]

  3. Wonderfully written, brilliantly drawn characters who each vie for the title of most detestable person in the book as they live through a most despicable situation of a middle aged teacher having an affair with a young pupil and the Machiavellian machinations of an older, bitter teacher who is a repressed lesbian I would imagine it translated better into a film, especially given the stellar cast of Judi Dench and Cate Blanchett, than it read as a book.Fantastic writing but somehow the story didn [...]

  4. In the US, this was published as What Was She Thinking , with Notes on a Scandal in brackets, as a subtitle Having just read Lolita, I thought it would be interesting to read a modern take on such a difficult subject, albeit with genders reversed It s the story of Sheba, a married middle class middle aged pottery teacher who has an affair with a 15 year old pupil It is told by Barbara, a sixty ish spinster who teaches in the same school, in a voice that could easily have been written by Alan Be [...]

  5. I actually enjoyed this a lot than i thought i would.Interesting being told from Barbara s point of view But i really hated Barbara.

  6. Notes on a Scandal is a multi layered story While keeping up with the pretense of titillating readers with the lurid details of a much older woman s romance with an adolescent boy, it skilfully but subtly exposes the hypocrisy practiced by each one of its characters How each one of them remained so painfully aware of Sheba s perversions while being stubbornly dismissive of their own Zoe Heller also forces us to rethink what we consider moral and immoral and ask ourselves whether we can really pa [...]

  7. Find all of my reviews at 52bookminimum If you follow my reviews you ll know my brain failed me once again as somehow I put myself on the library waiting list for this selection and failed to make any kind of bookmark to remind myself why I vaguely remember some sort of list about characters you love to hate, but I ll be damned if I can find the sumbitch now Why wouldn t I save that Those are my favorite characters The only thing I can think is it must have been a short list and I d already read [...]

  8. Even if you ve seen the Judi Dench Cate Blanchett film, you ll enjoy this savagely funny look at a lonely older schoolteacher, Barbara, who becomes obsessed with a younger colleague, Sheba, who in turn is obsessed with one of her younger students.Barbara s observations, especially about some of her fellow teachers, are brutally frank and read aloud to your best friends funny Some details are also quite poignant Heller gets a lot in a commentary about class Heller herself was educated at Oxford , [...]

  9. Gosh, this book creeped me out And, it wasn t even the older woman school boy thing it was Barbara, the narrator She was creepy as all hell Maybe because my copy had Judi Dench s cold eyed stare on the cover, but from first page to last, it was utterly unnerving.What saved this book from being a daytime made for TV movie was that it was told from the perspective of Barbara and not the teacher who has an affair with a pupil Barbara is this incredibly sinister, bitter, manipulative woman who is al [...]

  10. Sex is a complicted subject Sometimes, literature doesn t make it easier Neither do movies or television There is something to be said for this honest truths about sex and embarassment would lead to less children however, it is rare to find a book that looks at sex and actually has something to say besides the words drenched in her honey.Heller does examine sexual issues in this book, and the phrase drenched in her honey doesn t come up at all She takes a hard look at conset, age, and desire.The [...]

  11. This is a story about scandal but deeply, it s a story about loneliness Pure, desperate, bone aching loneliness As I wrote that, I realized it was a weak, paraphrased version of the most powerful passage in the book And that s the difficulty of reviewing Notes on a Scandal everything I try to say, Heller has already said, and much powerfully And she manages to do it all neatly and beautifully there are no bloated metaphors or silly comparisons, only acute observations and layered themes.It s a [...]

  12. This was an incredibly dark, gritty, realistic novel that perfectly portrays destructive behaviour and manipulative relationships The story is narrated by Barbara, an older secondary school History teacher, who becomes obsessed with a new Art teacher Sheba Hart When she finds out that Sheba has begun having a relationship with one of her pupils, she acts as her confidante, drawing the two friends ever closer However, Barbara s manipulative personality takes them to further dark places.This book [...]

  13. This is definitely one of the best contemporary novels I ve read in recent years The quality of writing is remarkable and the subject matter is truly fascinating at least to me Notes on a Scandal depicts a story of an affair between Sheba a 40 year old married school teacher and her 15 year old student Steven as seen through the eyes of Sheba s elderly fellow teacher Barbara Zoe Heller offers a fascinating perspective on such a relationship, where the victim in legal sense initiates and controls [...]

  14. Venting it out is easy, but venting it out in style isn t That is if one isn t Zoe Heller What acerbity, what acrimony, what sarcasm, what was she thinking This book is so many things, but it primarily came across as a caustic compendium of anti hypocrisy tirades directed at anyone and everyone with a vitriolic flair that is one of its kind It s one of those books where in an effort to note down catchy sentences, I ended up rewriting the entire book It didn t matter whether it was sunny or not o [...]

  15. Spoilers everywhere This book starts where you expect and ends where you have no idea what just happened A truly gripping ride The three characters of this book that stand out Barbara 60, history teacher , Sheba 40, pottery teacher and Connoly 15, their student While the story is told in Barbara s diary, the scandal of which the title speaks is the sexual relationship between Sheba and Connolly, her pupil You might start the book with the knowledge that you are appalled by such an idea, but trus [...]

  16. I don t give 5 stars very often I m so impressed with this book that I m not quite sure where to begin.Let s start with why I read it I read Tampa a few months ago, and it outraged me People including the author, Alissa Nutting compared Tampa to both Lolita and American Psycho, so I decided to finally read both of those Lolita was the saddest, most horrifying thing I ve ever read in my life I think most people who love it don t actually get it They re so taken with the language that they don t r [...]

  17. A harrowing reada taboo subject and human lives and emotions caught up in tangles.Bathsheba, the 42 year old Pottery teacher is being pursued by law for having seduced her 16 year old male student The story unfolds through the eyes of Barbara, a senior teacher of the same school as where Sheba teaches, and who has slowly but surely become an indispensable friend to Sheba Barbara is the only pillar of support for Sheba during her difficult circumstances.When the events unfolded, Sheba was a compl [...]

  18. My first time reading a book by Zoe Heller, and I know she has at least three works published Really smart book, the narrator Barbara decides to write an account of her friendship with a fellow school teacher the new art teacher Bathsheba or Sheba as she is known in the book Barbara s remarks and writing is so cutting and it discards flowery fleshy words, and go right to the bone of the matter Yet, at the same time she is sympathetic to her friend but she is fair to all i think Even if you watch [...]

  19. Cold, dark and biting A ring side view to a vile media scandal where most of the action is off the court Notes on a Scandal is a book that will leave you cold inside.Let s get the taboo out of the way Sheba, the new pottery teacher, mother of 2 teenagers, daughter of a famous economist, crush of the male staff at the school has an affair with her 16 year old student Once you take away the focus from this, you realise it is a multi layered narrative about the hypocrisy of the society and the res [...]

  20. Clever, clever, clever What was she thinking At first I just assumed we were speaking of Sheba She slept with a 15 year old, after all But by the end of this book, it was someone else s thoughts I was questioning This is a very good book, and it was made into a fantastic movie I have to say that the movie packs the bigger punch Judy Dench takes the character of Barbara to her fullest expression Cate Blanchett was phenomenal as the sympathetic adulteress and mistress of her 15 year old student no [...]

  21. Dear, dear Barbara I m not sure if Heller meant for her narrator to be a friend or foe, but something about her nature drew me to her In the end, I can t think who was the victim Sheba or Barbara Good read.

  22. Here s the crazy thing that happens in Zoe Heller s funny, crushing, brilliant Notes on a Scandal, and it s not the part where a teacher fucks her student You d think it would be, right Pretty, gauzy pottery teacher Sheba has an affair with her teenaged student, and there s your book It s narrated by a lonely old spinster named Barbara, who s been ignored on the sidelines all her life You think she s the fifth business a sideline reporter, a bystander But here s the crazy thing slowly but inexor [...]

  23. Not a poorly written book, but I had a difficult time empathizing with the characters When I read a book, typically I like to come away with something knowledge, deeper understanding, empathy, or just a riotous good time None of that happened with this book I just felt empty and sad, and very baffled by these characters I could empathize in some aspects with Barbara, but try as I might to gain some sort of insight into Sheba s psyche and relate to even a shred of what motivated her, I just coul [...]

  24. To be honest , was a bit scared when Girish recommended this from the Booker Prize list, most of which goes way above my head But I m glad to have picked it lured by a group read.More than the scandal, it was the effect of some brilliant thought provoking conversations esp on loneliness that added flavours to the multi layered narration.Written cleverly in a crisp manner, a fast paced gloomy read on trust and betrayal, envy and obsession

  25. Why do we raise our eyebrows at relationships between two people of markedly different ages Why are we in such a hurry to classify certain romantic entanglements as being exploitative , and can we ever be clear exactly who is exploiting whom anyway These are just some of the questions you re likely to ask yourself while reading Notes on a Scandal.On paper, this looks like a pretty cut and dried case a 42 year old married female teacher pursues a sexual relationship with a 15 16 year old schoolbo [...]

  26. This has been on my shelf for ages and as I ve been off work sick stupid tonsils I decided to trawl through my books for quick and easy reads as frankly, my brain is not up to much at the moment This seemed to fit the bill and was both a quick and enjoyable read I didn t find is particularly sinister as such despite what the blurb says , just a good example of how even the best educated people with the best intentions can be easily ensnared in a self spun web of envy, deceite and lust Personall [...]

  27. I thought this book was amazing and that the movie, while different, really got to the heart of what the book was about not an easy task for such a rich and complex read The thing that I thought was really amazing about this theme, in both the book and movie, was the way that it questioned our preconceived notions of perversion and how those notions are affected by age and gender If you want to talk legally Sheba was the only criminal, her affections were the ones that were inappropriate, she wa [...]

  28. This little book is a history of two schoolteachers who develop close friendship Sheba and Barbara Sheba is new in school, a menacing institution straight out of Blackboard Jungle When one of the 15 year old students starts showing his infatuation with her, she resists at first but eventually succumbs, despite being married and having children.What makes the book interesting is the first person narration but Sheba is not the narrator Notes on a Scandal is narrated by Barbara, the grumpy old spin [...]

  29. I can t and couldn t, while reading get the movie out of my head to evaluate the book entirely separately from it If you ve not seen it, Judi Dench and Cate Blanchett are both absolutely astounding in it The book open ended, morally ambiguous is very good, but lacks a little something That said, I love what Heller does creating a first person narrator who should be, for all intents and purposes, entirely unreliable, but who with every chapter reveals another layer of the truth of her own socio [...]

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