I will keep this review brief, because there are several reviews that do a much better job than I will in describing the excellence that is Notes on a Scandal.
Zoë Heller's novel does raise certain questions and moral dilemmas. Is a teacher ever permitted to indulge in a sexual/romantic relationship with his/hers student? Is it possible for the younger participant to be the culprit? How should media react and report on these kinds of matters? Who carries the blame? Can these kinds of relationships ever be equal?
Barbra, who is telling us the story of pottery teacher Sheba's relationship to her student Connolly, questions all this. She is willing to see both sides of the story, but mostly Sheba's involvement, blame, and feelings. Through Barbra, a complex character, we're introduced to Sheba's equally complex character. The relationship between Sheba and Connolly might appear innocent enough in the beginning, and romantic in the middle. It's not the regular type of romance, or story for that matter. Somewhere after half of the book, the tone of their relationship changes and we get to see that even the young people here might be deceiving. Another part that is done well is the media aspect. How the media exposure affects Sheba, and also her relationship to Barbra. Because even if this story is about Sheba and her journey, it also involves Barbra's own life as she becomes Sheba's chief defender.
Thought provoking and beautifully written, Notes on a Scandal deserves to be read and discussed. Well done, Heller!