Notes on a Scandal

Notes on a Scandal

3.68 (14,800 ratings by Goodreads)
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When the new teacher first arrives, Barbara immediately senses that this woman will be different from the rest of her staff-room colleagues. But Barbara is not the only one to feel that Sheba is special, and before too long Sheba is involved in an illicit affair with a pupil. Barbara finds the relationship abhorrent, of course, but she is the only adult in whom Sheba can properly confide. So when the liaison is found out and Sheba's life falls apart, Barbara is more

Product details

  • Paperback | 256 pages
  • 126 x 194 x 20mm | 158.76g
  • Penguin Books Ltd
  • London, United Kingdom
  • 0141012250
  • 9780141012254
  • 539,656

Author information

Zoe Heller's first novel, Everything You Know, was published by Viking in 1999. Zoe Heller writes a column for the Daily Telegraph and was columnist of the year for 2002. She lives in New more

Review Text

Zoe Heller's second novel is the sort of book you get through in one sitting. It's centred around Barbara and Sheba, teachers at St George's, where Sheba, the new pottery teacher, livens up the proceedings at the school, first with her charisma and then with her affair with a student. Barbara, the 'incubus' as she is described, is an uncomfortable and stifling woman, but her humanity has her jumping out of the page at you: you've met her before, you didn't like her and were probably scared of her. Both women are very ordinary, making their complex psychologies all the more disturbing. In fact, all of Heller's characters are alarmingly recognizable, and the situations so familiar and real that you feel as though you are intruding upon something dangerous; the more you read the more you want to hide from the plot and the people she has created. The 'notes on a scandal' are Barbara's account of events as Sheba's circumstances hurtle out of control, with Barbara her unflinching, irrepressible stalwart, her 'notes' providing a turning point in the pair's unhealthy and compelling relationship. On the surface, Sheba may appear to be the only guilty party but those around, including her husband, other teachers and the media, all have a part to play in or something to gain from her downfall. Heller has written about the power of passion and the horrors of repression in an earthy, stingingly humorous satire that puts every other book of this ilk in the shadows. This novel is guaranteed to have you hooked from the first word to the last. Simply genius. (Kirkus UK)show more

Rating details

14,800 ratings
3.68 out of 5 stars
5 20% (2,951)
4 41% (6,106)
3 29% (4,256)
2 8% (1,152)
1 2% (335)
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