Claire's Reviews > Notes on a Scandal: What Was She Thinking?

Notes on a Scandal by Zoë Heller
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Apr 17, 2011

really liked it
Read in April, 2011

** spoiler alert ** I may be biased, because I've been wanting to read this book for several months now. When I was lucky enough to find it on sale at Chapters, I couldn't wait to start reading it.

The novel is told from the point of view of Barbara, a single schoolteacher who has a penchant for getting involved in intense one-on-one friendships with other women. When Sheba, the new pottery teacher, arrives at Barbara's school, Barbara slowly decides that Sheba will be her next friend. This is complicated by Sheba's secret affair with an underage student at the school.

As a girl who often has trouble making friends with other girls, I found this book fascinating. Barbara's calculated "befriending" of Sheba was disturbing to watch, almost like a train wreck. I also have a weakness for unreliable narrators in books, and I believe it's safe to say that Barbara is an entirely unreliable narrator. She presents herself as an entirely objective outsider, but she is so involved in trying to control and manipulate Sheba. I don't want to spoil too much of the novel, so I won't say too much about the control aspect of the relationship. Barbara as an unreliable narrator forces the reader to constantly question the events taking place, especially since Barbara is so critical.
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