Monday, May 21, 2007

What Was She Thinking?: Notes on a Scandal

I just saw the movie version of this after having read the book when it first came out. Bohemian teacher Sheba Hart arrives to teach art at St. Georges school and old-timer Barbara soon takes her under her wing. Barbara becomes Sheba's confidante and writes about her in her journal with an obsessive intensity. When Barbara discovers Sheba's affair with a 15 year old student, she is first betrayed and then sees an opening to exploit her knowledge to get even closer to Sheba. The weight of this secret adds a creepier dimension to their relationship. Zoe Heller's book focuses little on the actual scandalous affair, and more on how this knowledge is used as currency in the lives of others. While the movie was also good, I preferred the novel's more nuanced approach and the greater glimpse into the character's motivations.

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