Sunday, 14 July 2013

Book #43 Notes On A Scandal by Zoe Heller

Notes On A Scandal

Length Of Time In Possession : 12-18 months

Like 1984 before it, the reason I came to Notes On A Scandal after a waiting period was because I had been significantly spoilered by media coverage of it, and already knew the ending. I'm not sure if this is because it featured in 'Faulks On Fiction' or if it's because I was accidentally spoilered during the time the film, starring Cate Blanchett and Judi Dench was around. I avoided the film, wanting to read the book first, as is the correct way to go about it!

Knowing the ending meant that I didn't want to pick it, but on my big List For 2013 it was nestled in between several books that had already been crossed out. Therefore it looked like it was lonely and had no friends so I picked it. (Yes, that's how my mind works....)

In Notes On A Scandal, respected but lonely teacher Barbara hopes that with the arrival of new art teacher Bathsheba she may have finally found a "Kindred Spirit" and hopes they will be "Bosom Friends" just this alone offers an insight into Barbara's psyche as it's all very 'Anne Of Green Gables' the difference being Anne is 11, and Barbara is in her Fifties.

Barbara eventually inveigles her way into Bathsheba's life and becomes her confidante, but the secret  Bathsheba entrusts to her leads to Barbara slowly wielding total power over her "friend". 

Like Ian McEwan's Enduring Love before it and recent offering Alys, Always from Harriet Lane - Notes From A Scandal offers an insight into the mind of the dangerous obsessive who fixates on one individual. I'm sure we've all had at least one friend in our time who proved to be just that bit "too" intense.

Barbara is just the right amount of sinister, without it becoming melodramatic, but there is a lot of pathos in her situation too. There is an excellent paragraph on how sometimes the perceived freedom of a single person can be it's own kind of jail. Able to spend money on going to theatre whenever you want, for example, yet always going alone.

There is no twist to this ending, it is quite open ended, yet the ending shows how completely Barbara's machinations have succeeded and in some ways the plain, unremarkable sentence upon which the novel closes is quite terrifying.

This book was massively easy to read whilst remaining intelligent and compelling, way better than a lot of books out there directly marketed as psychological thrillers and ultimately way more creepy.

I really enjoyed this novel.

Verdict : 10/10

Destination : Passing to a friend 

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