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What Was She Thinking? [Notes on a Scandal]
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Archives > What Was She Thinking? Notes on a Scandal, by Zoe Heller

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Elise F (elise_literaryhabitat) | -2 comments My read for week 14 is What Was She Thinking? Notes on a Scandal by Zoë Heller.

Haven't seen the movie but I know the general storyline...

"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."


Jody (jodybell) | 3469 comments I read this a couple of years ago, and I quite liked it. It's very thought-provoking!


Elise F (elise_literaryhabitat) | -2 comments I was a little creeped out by this...I thought it would be more about what happened AFTER the scandal was exposed...instead, I slowly realised it's about Barbara's obsession with Sheba. And that is a very insidious obsession!
Off to watch the movie now - the whole time I was reading I was picturing Cate Blanchett and Judi Dench as their respective characters!


Jody (jodybell) | 3469 comments I think I'd like to see the movie too - I can't picture Cate Blanchett as Sheba though, she's too composed & regal!


Marina H | 1315 comments I'll be reading this one soon. I haven't seen the movie, but maybe I will if I like the book.
The book is pure fiction, right? Or is it based on a true story?


Rachel A. (abyssallibrarian) | 2632 comments I just finished this as part of my PopSugar challenge, for "a book that's been on your TBR list for way too long." This was one of the first books I added to my TBR when I joined Goodreads a year and a half ago.

I liked it, but I didn't love it as much as I thought I was going to. I thought Barbara's fixation on Sheba was a creepy and definitely too intense given the circumstances. I was intrigued by a line early on where another coworker broke off a friendship with Barbara for being "too intense," and I hoped that would have been explored a little more.

I thought the book was well-written, but at the same time I also found it quite slow. For a book that was so short (relatively, at least), it took me much longer than I expected to get through it. Definitely interested in seeing the movie!


Jody (jodybell) | 3469 comments I feel it was explored more indirectly, by showing how she was with Sheba.


Rachel A. (abyssallibrarian) | 2632 comments Jody wrote: "I feel it was explored more indirectly, by showing how she was with Sheba."

It definitely was, but I wanted more. I would have loved to find out what made Barbara that way.


message 9: by Emily, Conterminous Mod (new) - rated it 2 stars

Emily Bourque (emilyardoin) | 6952 comments Mod
I realllllly didn't like this one, which is surprising because I thought I would. I haven't seen the movie, but I'd imagine it puts a different spin on the book...

I think what made this book disappointing for me is 1) it wasn't actually about the scandal, which is what I was expecting and 2) I was really disinterested Barbara. Not in a "oh I don't like her at all" sort of way, but in a "I do not care at all what happens to her" sort of way. Her relationship with Sheba was creepy, yes, but it still wasn't compelling enough for me to want to continue reading. I don't need to like the characters, but I need to be invested in their stories.

Plus, I totally agree with Rachel -- it was such a short book but it felt like it took forever to read. I feel like a big Debbie Downer here, but I just finished it and needed to vent my frustrations over spending my 2 snow days reading a book I really didn't like haha!


Janet (jnabring) | 36 comments Just finished this book and liked it quite a bit. Can understand some ppl not liking it because it wasn't exactly a happy/positive read and most of the characters were extremely awful.

Still...lots to think about after reading this one. Especially given societal norms around gender and class. And I also agree with ppl who have commented in the past about wanting to understand more about how Barbara got to where she is in life.


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