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Zoë Heller

Author of Notes on a Scandal

8+ Works 4,393 Members 191 Reviews 13 Favorited

About the Author

Zoe Heller has been a contributing editor of Vanity Fair and a staff member of the London Sunday Times, the Times Supplement, Esquire, Vogue, the London Review of Books and The New York Times. Her 2003 novel, What Was She Thinking?: Notes on a Scandal, earned tremendous acclaim, including a spot on show more the short list for the prestigious Man Booker Prize. The audio release coincided with the 2007 film adaptation, Notes on a Scandal, starring Cate Blanchett and Judi Dench. She was born and educated in Britain and now divides her time between Brooklyn, NY and Bucks County, PA. (Bowker Author Biography) show less
Image credit: Photo by David Shankbone (Cropped/Wikimedia Commons)

Works by Zoë Heller

Associated Works

The Pursuit of Love (1945) — Introduction, some editions — 1,867 copies
Granta 79: Celebrity (2002) — Contributor — 143 copies
Notes on a Scandal [2006 film] (2006) — Original book — 137 copies
Granta 53: News (1996) — Contributor — 124 copies
Ox-Tales: Water (2009) — Contributor — 69 copies


Common Knowledge



The slow decline into obsession is like a slow growing cancer. The sickness of the heart soon controls the soul. Barbara Covett's long teaching career at St. Georges School affords her a critical opinion of her colleagues, old and new. With barely any friends, scarce family ties, and no love life to speak of, Barbara is an aging spinster alone with an ailing cat. Such bitter loneliness entitles Barbara to scoff at any relationship until she meets Sheba Hart. Sheba brings out a strange possessiveness in Barbara. As a pottery teacher Sheba is new to St. Georges and it's politics. Barbara takes Sheba under her wing and desires to be her only friend. Except Sheba is capable of making a variety of relationships which fuel Barbara's jealousies. Barbara reminded me of the manipulative Iago in the way that she slyly pushed Sue, another St. Georges colleague, out of the friendship with Sheba. Three is definitely a crowd.
As mentioned before, Sheba is capable of making connections quickly. When she starts a physical relationship with a sixteen year old student in her pottery class, Barbara seizes the opportunity to be Sheba's only nonjudgmental confident, further pulling Sheba into a sick dependency. However, Barbara's immature need to be on the high horse of morality gets the better of her and she risks Sheba's friendship by keeping a journal. The more obsessed Sheba gets with the schoolboy, the more reckless she becomes. How long before the house of cards come crashing down?
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SeriousGrace | 102 other reviews | Nov 8, 2023 |
(3.5 stars, rounded down to 3)
'Notes on a Scandal' was a brutal work, with the term 'subverted expectations' looking as if it was coined for this book. The only thing letting down this novel is the prose, which is too light and straightforward for the dark subject matter. Granted, the book is meant to be a journal of sorts, but you are left terribly wanting after the novel has ended.
You first think that the book is about Bathsheba (Sheba) - a middle-aged pottery teacher having an affair with a fifteen-year old, and its repercussions.
But what really makes up the meat of the material is the point of view of Barbara, a senior teacher at the school at which Sheba teaches, and whose brutal, pitiful loneliness makes her a vivid character study - she ends up revealing more of her emotions and (sub?)conscious manipulations than she suspects.
This was a book that is a perfect example of 'what-could-have-been' - it is, nonetheless, an excellent read, full of complex characters and relationships.
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SidKhanooja | 102 other reviews | Sep 1, 2023 |
I really enjoyed this wonderfully observed novel, with its unreliable narrator and feckless, selfish, but ultimately pitiable heroine. It was full of great observervations and stark, very compact writing. I
Helen.Callaghan | 102 other reviews | Aug 28, 2023 |
Most of the story is set in New York in 2002 after an initial brief prologue in London 40 years before when Leo and Audrey meet and are immediately attracted to each other. Now, with two adult daughters, the lives of the four of them are challenged and changed in the course of a year. Heller has each of them face up to their own individual dilemmas, together with one that affects all four. Heller draws you into their lives, concentrating on the three women, as they struggle with their beliefs and to retain their family relationship with each other as events unfold. Heller explores the thought that parents may be able to set beliefs and standards for their children, but then they must expect that theses may be adapted or rejected in adulthood.… (more)
camharlow2 | 79 other reviews | Jul 9, 2023 |



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