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

Zoe Heller

Picador

0312421990

9780312421991

Trade Paperback

288 Pages

$16.00

CAD18.50

Request Desk Copy Request Exam Copy
Shortlisted for the Mann Booker Prize
A New York Times Notable Book
A Washington Post Best Book of the Year
Entertainment Weekly Best Book of the Year


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 friendship. It begins with lunches and continues with regular invitations to meals with Sheba's seemingly close-knit family. But as their relationship develops, another does as well: Sheba has begun a passionate affair with an underage male student. And 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 an unwitting 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.

REVIEWS

Praise for What Was She Thinking?

"An intense, witty, literary page-turner."—Entertainment Weekly

"Equally adroit at satire and at psychological suspense, Heller charts the course of a predatory friendship and demonstrates the lengths to which some people go for human company."—The New Yorker

"A deliciously perverse, laugh-out-loud-funny novel."—Vogue

"A triumph of intelligence and narrative control."—The Times (London)

"Heller is a great ventriloquist of character, and as the unhinged curator of the Sheba affair. Barbara is painfully note perfect."—The Washington Post Book World

Reviews from Goodreads

BACK

BOOK EXCERPTS

Read an Excerpt

What Was She Thinking?

 
The first time I ever saw Sheba was on a Monday morning, early in the winter term of 1996. I was standing in the St. George's car park, getting books out of the back of my car, when she came through the gates on a bicycle--an old-fashioned, butcher-boy model with a basket in the front. Her hair was arranged in one of those artfully dishevelled up-dos: a lot of stray tendrils framing the jaw, and something like a chopstick piercing a rough bun at the back. It was the sort of hairstyle that film actresses wear when they're playing sexy lady doctors.
Read the full excerpt
BACK

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

  • Zoe Heller

  • Zoë Heller was born in London. Her work as a feature writer, critic, and columnist has appeared in The New Yorker, Vanity Fair, The New Republic, and The Times Literary Supplement. She currently writes a weekly column for London's Daily Telegraph, for which she won the 2002 British Press Award for "Columnist of the Year." She has lives in New York since 1993. What Was She Thinking? is her second novel.
BACK

READING GUIDE

ORGANIZING A READING GROUP

GET THE GUIDE

Download PDF

TELL YOUR FRIENDS

FIND MORE BOOKS

Go to website

STAY UPDATED

Sign Up

OTHER GUIDES

Reading Group Guide
BACK