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What Was She Thinking?: Notes on a Scandal | [Zoe Heller]

What Was She Thinking?: Notes on a Scandal

Schoolteacher Barbara Covett has led a bitter, lonely life as a self-made careerist. Sheba Hart is an ethereal, inexperienced new pottery teacher. When Barbara hears of Sheba's problems in the classroom, a maternal pity arises in her that soon leads to friendship and confidence. But Barbara is unprepared for the secret she will learn: that Sheba has begun a passionate affair with an underage male student. Barbara's confusion, disapproval, and jealousy are helpless to prevent the coming disaster.
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Publisher's Summary

Schoolteacher Barbara Covett has led a bitter, lonely life as a self-made careerist. Sheba Hart is an ethereal, inexperienced new pottery teacher. When Barbara hears of Sheba's problems in the classroom, a maternal pity arises in her that soon leads to friendship and confidence. But Barbara is unprepared for the secret she will learn: that Sheba has begun a passionate affair with an underage male student. Barbara's confusion, disapproval, and jealousy are helpless to prevent the coming disaster.

When the story comes to light and Sheba falls prey to the inevitable media circus, Barbara decides to write an account in her friend's defense; an account that reveals not only Sheba's secrets, but her own. What results is a complex psychological portrait framed as a wicked satire - a story of passion and repression, mercy and betrayal.

©2003 Zoë Heller; (P)2006 Blackstone Audio Inc.

What the Critics Say

"Gripping from start to finish; Heller brings vivid, nuanced characterizations to the racy story." (Publishers Weekly)
"Both a penetrating character study and a sharp examination of voyeurism, Heller's novel is utterly brilliant." (Booklist)
"Equally adroit at satire and at psychological suspense, Heller charts the course of a predatory friendship and demonstrates the lengths to which some people go for human company." (New Yorker)

What Members Say

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  •  
    Christine Bloom Los Angeles 03-01-08
    Christine Bloom Los Angeles 03-01-08 Member Since 2012

    Christine B.

    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "The Latent Lesbian"

    I love the tongue in cheek tone and wit in this book and the narrator's voice is perfect for the character. Loved the movie and this is even better.

    2 of 3 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Wendi Overland Park, KS, United States 04-15-15
    Wendi Overland Park, KS, United States 04-15-15 Member Since 2012

    Canadian girl in Kansas, love audible, books on kindle or kindle fire, and old fashioned books! I enjoy fiction most, mostly books with strong female leads. Favourite authors: Diana Gabaldon, Stephen King, Jodi Picoult, Wally Lamb, Pat Conroy, Andre Dubus III, Lisa Genova, many more!

    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "Took My Breath Away"

    Several people may already be familiar with this beautifully written book by Zoe Heller. The film 'Notes on a Scandal' was critically acclaimed and well received by audiences all over the world. The performances were impeccable, and the story of teacher and younger lover was somehow beautifully told- a subject which is difficult at best to even grasp.

    The novel the movie was based on does not disappoint us. Impeccably read- so much so that one may imagine the love, the bitterness, the jealousy and the anger if it' were happening in front of you- as if you were a fly on the wall so to speak. Heller has created a tale that should garnish hatred and dismay from the reader, instead, we draw empathy and almost love for the beautiful woman who fell into the trap of seduction by a boy, a student in fact. Her older friend and fellow educator had ulterior motives when she made sure Sheba's indiscretions were found for all the world to see. Quick to the rescue Barbara was, all the while secretly proud that she had set off what she wanted to accomplish, which was Sheba's reliance upon her. It was her way of expressing her romantic love for Sheba, who grows more confused with her actions and feelings as things progress.

    Heller manages to take into her hands the very imperfections of human kind, and make them beautiful in a different light. We are not inherently bad, but sometimes our feelings are overwhelming and we simply make poor choices along the way.

    This book is mesmerizing. The narration is as close to perfection as any I've heard. The story, although in so many ways inappropriate, is somehow beautiful and put together perfectly. This is definitely one of my favourite listens. 5 big stars all the way around, highly recommended.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Karen Vancouver, BC, Canada 04-26-09
    Karen Vancouver, BC, Canada 04-26-09 Member Since 2014
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    "Got tired of it"

    The narrator who READS this book is just fine--really good, in fact, but the I just got to the point where I couldn't really stand any more of the 1st person narrator/PROTAGONIST of this book. I can like a rogue, but this woman is dreadful in a too-little-redeemed kind of way.

    1 of 2 people found this review helpful
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