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What Was She Thinking?

Notes on a Scandal: A Novel

Zoë Heller

This book is available for download with iBooks on your Mac or iOS device, and with iTunes on your computer. Books can be read with iBooks on your Mac or iOS device.

Description

A lonely schoolteacher reveals more than she intends when she records the story of her best friend’s affair with a pupil in this sly, insightful novel

Schoolteacher Barbara Covett has led a solitary existence; aside from her cat, Portia, she has few friends and no intimates. When Sheba Hart joins St. George’s as the new art teacher, Barbara senses the possibility of a new friendship. It begins with lunches and continues with regular invitations to meals with Sheba’s seemingly close-knit family. But as Barbara and Sheba’s relationship develops, another does as well: Sheba has begun a passionate affair with an underage male student. When it 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 Was She Thinking? is a story of repression and passion, envy and complacence, friendship and loneliness. A complex psychological portrait framed as a wicked satire, it is by turns funny, poignant, and sinister. With it, Zoë Heller surpasses the promise of her critically acclaimed first novel, Everything You Know.

Publishers Weekly Review

May 26, 2003 – A starred or boxed review indicates a book of outstanding quality. A review with a blue-tinted title indicates a book of unusual commercial interest that hasn't received a starred or boxed review.WHAT WAS SHE THINKING?Zoë Heller. Holt, $23 (288p) Subtitled Notes on a Scandal, Heller's engrossing second novel (after Everything You Know) is actually the story of two inappropriate obsessions—one a consummated affair between a high school teacher and her student, the other a secret passion harbored by a dowdy spinster. Sheba Hart, a new 40ish art teacher at a London school for working-class kids, has been arrested for having a sexual relationship with a 15-year-old student, Steven Connolly. The papers are having a blast. Sheba is herself the object of fascination for her older colleague and defender, Barbara Covett, whose interest in Sheba is not overtly romantic but has an erotic—and at times malevolent—intensity. Barbara narrates the story of Sheba's affair while inadvertently revealing her own obsession and her pivotal role in the scandal. The novel is gripping from start to finish; Heller brings vivid, nuanced characterizations to the racy story. Sheba is upper-class, arty, carelessly beautiful in floaty layers of clothing, with a full life of her own: doting older husband, impossible adolescent daughter, a son with Down's Syndrome, real if underdeveloped talent as a potter. She never got a driver's license, she tells Barbara, because she is always given rides; people want to do things for her. Barbara's respectable maiden-lady exterior hides a bitter soul that feasts on others' real and imagined shortcomings: one colleague's carelessly shaved armpits, another's risible baseball jacket. Even characters on stage for a minute (a Camden barman who hams it up for Barbara) live and breathe. Author tour. Forecast:Some readers will pass this up as yet another take on the shopworn theme of student/teacher romance, but Heller's light touch will win over others and please reviewers.
What Was She Thinking?
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  • $9.99
  • Available on iPhone, iPad, iPod touch, and Mac.
  • Category: Literary
  • Published: Jun 01, 2004
  • Publisher: Henry Holt and Co.
  • Seller: Macmillan / Holtzbrinck Publishers, LLC
  • Print Length: 272 Pages
  • Language: English
  • Requirements: To view this book, you must have an iOS device with iBooks 1.3.1 or later and iOS 4.3.3 or later, or a Mac with iBooks 1.0 or later and OS X 10.9 or later.

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