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Notes on a Scandal (Penguin Celebrations) by…
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Notes on a Scandal (Penguin Celebrations) (original 2003; edition 2007)

by Zoe Heller

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2,891953,663 (3.63)187
Schoolteacher Barbara Covett has known none but the most solitary of lifestyles until new teacher Sheba Hart joins St. George's. Starting by sharing lunches, then family events, the new art teacher draws Barbara into a touching confidence. Unbeknownst to their colleagues, however, another relationship blossoms meanwhile: Sheba has begun a passionate affair with an underage male student. When the details come to light and Sheba falls prey to the inevitable media circus, Barbara decides to write an account in her friend's defense, revealing not only Sheba's secrets but her own.… (more)
Member:andrewbatty
Title:Notes on a Scandal (Penguin Celebrations)
Authors:Zoe Heller
Info:Penguin Books Ltd (2007), Paperback, 256 pages
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Notes on a Scandal by Zoë Heller (2003)

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» See also 187 mentions

English (93)  Spanish (1)  Dutch (1)  Hebrew (1)  All languages (96)
Showing 1-5 of 93 (next | show all)
I assume I'm just not a sophisticated enough reader to appreciate novels such as this. While reading this book, I felt much the way I might feel watching the Jerry Springer TV show. Both the book and the TV show feature unhappy people who have made bad choices in life, and I don't understand why the audiences seem to find enjoyment and entertainment in their stories.

Zoe Heller's book is about an English schoolteacher, Sheba Hart, who has an affair with a teenage student. The story is told by a fellow teacher, Barbara Covett, an older spinster who seems to have an unhealthy need for friendship with her younger colleague. And as the story draws to a close, and the predicted personal disaster is looming, the story just ends. As a reader who tends to stick with non-fiction books, I found myself needing closure, wondering if Sheba was found guilty of endangering a minor, how the student's life was affected, and what became of Sheba's troubled daughter and her husband. I didn't want to do the work of creating my own ending. Mine was unsatisfying.

( )
  rsutto22 | Jul 15, 2021 |
Excellent - only one part I noticed when she stepped out of 1st person narrator pov but you could just about believe she’d been told it after… but very clever the way the narrator’s personality was shown through her own speech and actions.
  MiriamL | Jul 11, 2021 |
Notes on a Scandal by Zoe Heller (2007)
  arosoff | Jul 10, 2021 |
i tried to read this more for the character study of the narrator than anything else, so i ended up liking it better by the end than when i started. (also the ending is excellent.) for probably the first 50 pages or more, i hated this book. the narrator is absolutely insufferable and it was a real struggle to be anywhere near her head.

i really don't like this book, but heller does do some interesting things that give me pause, and make me think. (which obviously is a strong positive.)

the most sympathetic character, as written, in the book is sheba, which is interesting because she's a 41 year old teacher "having an affair" with her 15 year old student. probably in actuality the most sympathetic characters are her husband and son, and possibly her daughter (although she seems just awful). but we're in the narrator's head and can't really trust her evaluation of the people in the book, as she hates everyone and everything in her loneliness and solitude. but because barbara, the narrator, wants us to see sheba in a good light, we more or less do. in spite of what she's doing.

this is theoretically a story about a teacher unravelling her life as she "has an affair" with this child. it's theoretically ambiguous (except of course it's not) in that we are shown the boy to be the sexual aggressor and not that sheba is actively pursuing this boy for a "relationship." so we are probably supposed to wonder who is the predator here. but really it's a story about the narrator being the predator and sheba being the prey. from the beginning we see how barbara stalks people, watches them, judges them, connives and manipulates relationships. she doesn't want to be alone, and she finds in sheba someone naive and trusting enough to be susceptible to her. and she ends up in charge and with someone who relies on her by the end. (although since sheba'll end up in prison i'm not sure how well this ends up working out for her.) so really barbara is the predator and sheba is the prey. this is a nice, and even deft, misdirection of focus and morality, but it's not enough to make this a good book in my mind. ( )
  overlycriticalelisa | Feb 7, 2021 |
Great characters. I love Barbara as a narrator. The book is almost entirely driven by Barbara's voice, though, and not by the plot, which isn't all that interesting. ( )
  widdersyns | Jul 19, 2020 |
Showing 1-5 of 93 (next | show all)
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» Add other authors (11 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Zoë Hellerprimary authorall editionscalculated
Massey, AnnaNarratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed

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For Larry and Frankie
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March 1, 1998
The other night, at dinner, Sheba talked about the first time that she and the Connolly boy kissed. (Foreword)
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(Click to show. Warning: May contain spoilers.)
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Originally published in the UK and elsewhere under the title Notes on a Scandal, this book was also released in the USA under the titles What Was She Thinking? Notes on a Scandal and then Notes on a Scandal: What Was She Thinking?
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Schoolteacher Barbara Covett has known none but the most solitary of lifestyles until new teacher Sheba Hart joins St. George's. Starting by sharing lunches, then family events, the new art teacher draws Barbara into a touching confidence. Unbeknownst to their colleagues, however, another relationship blossoms meanwhile: Sheba has begun a passionate affair with an underage male student. When the details come to light and Sheba falls prey to the inevitable media circus, Barbara decides to write an account in her friend's defense, revealing not only Sheba's secrets but her own.

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Penguin Australia

2 editions of this book were published by Penguin Australia.

Editions: 0141039957, 024195455X

 

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