Notes on a Scandal by Zoe Heller – Book Review


Told from the point of view of senior teacher Barbara Covett, Notes on a Scandal is set during the eye of the storm that takes place between the breaking of an affair and the court case that results. Sheba Hart starts in her new position at St George’s College, but finds that the students are disinterested and rowdy – apart from Steven Connolly, a fifteen-year-old who starts hanging around after school. Before she knows it, they are having an affair. Barbara is an older woman who takes morbid pleasure in learning of the relationship, and enjoys taking care of Sheba as her life falls apart.

There is so much that I enjoyed about this book. I’m a huge fan of the unreliable narrator, and Barbara is very much that – she believes herself to be a good teacher and friend, yet her behaviour is often quite different to that. It is also an excellent description of the way Sheba describes a relationship taking place between the teenager and teacher. It certainly does not paint either woman in a good light, but they are both such deeply flawed characters. Wonderful.

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