Notes On A Scandal
One of the most acclaimed novels of the past decade, 'notes on a scandal' is written in a rather curious way. It is the 'notes' - not quite diary entries, journalistic writing, or even memoirs - of an elderly virgin called Barbara, who has formed an unlikely friendship with a scandalous woman. This female is called Sheba, and wishes that she were as exotic as her name would suggest. She floats around in light robes and a sense of the serene until all calm disappears from her life, with the advent of a new relationship.
Now, a new lover is not usually something to comment on, but Sheba is fast approaching middle-age and her lover is a boy of fifteen. As his pottery teacher, the relationship is even more taboo. And he is not even good-looking. So why does it happen? Well, why not!
Heller deals with this tabloid-fodder in a manner that is at most unobtrusive. Through using a character only indirectly involved in the scandal, she allows greater perspective and a dry and wry look at society. That the narrator just happens to be totally apart from all forms of physicality merely serves to increase the visceral enjoyment.
The reader knows what he or she is letting themself in for, and therefore there is no shock when the lives of the central characters begin to alter in the ways that they do. Vague sapphism and brutally clear-cut sexuality co-exist in this unsentimental look at the way people fool themselves and those around them. Although it is not the greatest novel that ever was, it is definitely one that is of its time - talk shows, trashy magazines and celebrity columnists all play a part in our individual understanding of it.