What Was She Thinking?: Notes on a Scandal: A Novel

What Was She Thinking?: Notes on a Scandal: A Novel

by Zoe Heller
3.7 12

Paperback(First Edition)

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What Was She Thinking?: Notes on a Scandal: A Novel by Zoe Heller

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.

Shortlisted for the Man Booker Prize

What Was She Thinking? is the basis of the 2006 film, Notes on a Scandal, starring Judi Dench and Kate Blanchett.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780312421991
Publisher: Picador
Publication date: 06/01/2004
Edition description: First Edition
Pages: 272
Sales rank: 359,357
Product dimensions: 5.50(w) x 8.20(h) x 0.70(d)

About the Author

Zoë Heller was born in London and lives in New York City. Currently a columnist for London's Daily Telegraph, she has contributed to such publications as Vanity Fair, The New Yorker, The Independent, The Sunday Times (London), and The New Republic. She is also the author of the novel Everything You Know.


New York, New York

Date of Birth:

July 7, 1965

Place of Birth:

London, England


B.A., St. Anne's College, Oxford, 1987; M.A., Columbia University 1988

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What Was She Thinking?: Notes on a Scandal: A Novel 3.7 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 12 reviews.
Guest More than 1 year ago
I wonder sometimes if the only people who write reviews are the ones who love something? This book I bought to consider for a book club--not a great one for it, as some would be uncomfortable with the idea of sex between a teacher and student, especially given that most of the discussion of sex and her descriptions of his testicles, for example, come right in the beginning. It is a book best read alone, and thought about. Not particularly entertaining, rather, an unusually frank and accurate discussion of how, in fact, women court each other, and the politics of platonic relationships.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Disgusting book. I read until page 85 an couldn't stand to read any more...
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Guest More than 1 year ago
Zoe Heller is an incredible writer and there were so many layers to this story.I really felt the story was about what lengths a person will go to attain a friendship, the subject of the teacher and student was very disturbing and seemed to be more of one of the many layers in the story.
Guest More than 1 year ago
The title was more exciting than the actual book. Not what I would have called a scandal. The entire book sets up the scene for the last 3 chapters. It builds and builds with out much action.
Guest More than 1 year ago
This book never grabbed me, I had to read it for my book club, otherwise I would have stopped halfway through it. I didn't like any of the characters and really didn't care what happened to them.
Guest More than 1 year ago
This book was gripping! The main characters are disfunctional and they suck you in. The author goes on a deeper level of internal struggles.
Guest More than 1 year ago
Normally, this is the sort of book I do not like, but I was given this book as a gift and read it in literally, two hours. It is gripping, funny, and psychologically enticing. Barbara is one of the most original 'maiden ladies' I've ever met in literature--she brings to mind E.M. Forster's Miss Bartlett, the perennial biddy of A Room With a View. However, Heller develops her own Barbara far more deeply and intensely. A wonderful work of literature.