Publisher: Penguin Books
Published: 1st June 2004
Pages: 244 Pages
From the first day that the beguiling Sheba Hart joins the staff of St George’s, history teacher Barbara Covett is convinced she has found a kindred spirit. Barbara’s loyalty to her new friend is passionate and unstinting and when Sheba is discovered having a illicit affair with one of her pupils, Barbara quickly elects herself as Sheba’s chief defender but not is all as it first seems in this dark story.
I have wanted to read Notes on a Scandal for so long now and when I finally got around to reading the novel, I was left feeling rather disappointed. Secretly, Sheba Hart is having an affair with one of her pupils and she is madly in love with him. Notes on a Scandal is delivered by Sheba’s close friend and colleague Barbara who starts the story before the affair, right through until she is questioned by the Police.
Barbara’s account of Shelba’s affair was quite exciting and at the time of publication I’m sure it was probably quite a taboo subject – I’m sure it still is. The affair was evidently the main focal point and something you were interested in finding out about. However, Barbara’s life was well described also. I quite like Barbara, she was your “typical” spinster – not the best description, but a good representation – and although on the surface she appeared happy, she was evidently troubled. She often questioned herself and never really trusted her own instincts. Take for example when she visited Sheba’s house for dinner she worked herself into a frenzy purely because she wasn’t sure her shoes were appropriate enough. I could understand if she felt her outfit wasn’t suitable, but to question her footwear was a little extreme.
The affair between Sheba and Steven Connolly (a pupil at Sheba’s school) was believable and although it was a little cringey, you didn’t feel uncomfortable. If the relationship was overly described I think it would verge into it not being appropriate for the readers. It was evident that Sheba’s affection was infatuation and Steven was only after one thing, sex – sad, but true.