Tuesday, July 28, 2009

"What Was She Thinking? [Notes on a Scandal]" by Zoe Heller

At the end of the novel, which woman is more sympathetic? Is Barbara friend, guardian, foe, jailer, interloper, predator? Is Sheba a victim of circumstances, an understandably bored housewife, or a selfish woman spoiled by privilege?

For more information about Zoe Heller, check out this interview with Robert Birnbaum:

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

This book was not one of my favorites. It was somewhat tedious getting started. I felt like I was reading a history chapter or two.

The subject of the "Notes" wasn't shocking probably because most of us have read many such instances in the past few years.

The writer of the "Notes", Barbara, was a lonely, sanctimonious, vindictive spinster who thought she was perfect and everyone else inferior. She alienated one young friend because of controlling behavior. Then by some manipulating actions she became Sheba's 'best friend' and the author of the secret scandal. In my opinion, Barbara was also a predator.

Sheba was a young mother. She was also married at nineteen to an older man. I think she was a wife and mother before she was ready. Her own mother was a bit ambivalent about Sheba's life and family. Sheba's husband and family never took an interest in her love of pottery and sculpture. She and Connolly found some common ground in creative arts as well as in other areas.

There is a quotation supposedly made by Satchel Paige (African American baseball player) many years ago which says "How old would you be if you didn't know how old you were?"

Sheba knew her age but subconsciously I think she wanted to be (and acted like) sixteen. Example: How she fussed and took once her old bedroom and her young niece's belongings in this room.

As far as Connolly and Sheba's actions, I don't think Sheba believed she was doing anything wrong, but she was. That is if we can believe Barbara's second-hand notes.