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Notes on a Scandal: What Was She Thinking?: A Novelby Zoe Heller
"Her mixed motives for concocting such a voyeuristic tall tale are ultimately what give Heller's novel its queasy, heartbreaking kick. 'For most people,' Barbara says, 'honesty is such an unusual departure from their standard modus operandi ? such an aberration in their workaday mendacity.' Her own mendacity is more refined, wonderfully entertaining, and deeply (which is to say tragically) unconscious." James Marcus, The Atlantic Monthly (read the entire Atlantic review)
Synopses & Reviews
Shortlisted for the Man Booker Prize and now a major motion picture.
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 revealing not only Sheba's secrets, but also her own.
"Sparkling....A stylish and spirited debut." The New York Times
"A caustic and ultimately devastating novel." The New Yorker
"Both a penetrating character study and a sharp examination of voyeurism, Heller's novel is utterly brilliant." Booklist
"Heller elevates a tabloid-worthy tale of obsession into an intense, witty, literary page-turner." Entertainment Weekly
"Heller is a great ventriloquist of character, and as the unhinged curator of the Sheba affair, Barbara is painfully note-perfect. What Was She Thinking? achieves some very worthy literary aims indeed." The Washington Post Book World
"The triumph of What Was She Thinking? is that we see this caricature of a bitter, manipulative woman finally as just another confused person struggling with love and loneliness." Oregonian
"[T]he novel provides the titillating pleasure of watching something bad happen up close....Heller does a beautiful job giving voice to a hero who is both in control and losing control." Chicago Tribune
"Deliciously perverse, laugh-out-loud funny [with] caustic wit and needle-sharp observations. The reader looks on, amused and aghast, as both unlikely seductress and her self-deluding protector become locked in a helpless embrace of need and betrayal." Vogue
"[A] tartly readable portrait of terminal neediness, as sharp and merciless as any of Zoë Heller's columns." The Los Angeles Times
"The novel is gripping from start to finish; Heller brings vivid, nuanced characterizations to the racy story." Publishers Weekly
"The most gripping novel of the year. You leave this extraordinary book utterly shaken, with new knowledge of the human heart. Heller writes with a precision that stirs the blood and an uncommon insight into the darker sides of love." Nuala O'Faolain
Shortlisted for the Booker Prize, Heller's stirring novel that chronicles the friendship between two schoolteachers is now a major motion picture from Fox Searchlight, starring Cate Blanchett and Judi Dench.
Shortlisted for the Man Booker Prize
Now a Major Motion Picture
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 revealing not only Sheba's secrets, but also her own.
About the Author
Zoë Heller was born in London and lives in New York City. She is the author of the novel Everything You Know.
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