I’m generally of the belief that one shouldn’t watch a film without reading the book first, and as a stickler for habit it was only recently that I found myself reading Zoe Heller’s Notes on a Scandal, despite having already seen the screen adaptation.
Way’s Bookshop in Henley, a traditional secondhand and antiquarian bookshop is situated on the corner of Friday Street and is my favourite kind of place. Intimate and cosy with shelves upon shelves of books, I spent a heavenly hour rifling through their impressive selection before coming across Notes on a Scandal. I remembered enjoying the film, and finding Judi Dench’s character rather disturbing but as it had been a while since I’d seen it, I had only a vague recollection of how the plot concluded and thus happily parted with a mere pound for the paperback. Later that day, armed with my favourite accompaniment to a book – a big mug of hot, sweet, tea, I began reading and within twenty-four hours I had finished.
The plot follows the exploits of Sheba Hart as she begins an extra-marital affair with one of her pupils, while simultaneously dealing with an intense, creepy female colleague – Barbara Covett. The characters are beautifully written; Covett’s especially so, whose dependancy on Sheba and numerous idiosyncrasies really her to life.
The book is incredibly fast-paced with an impending sense of doom from start to finish that leaves the reader wanting more. If you’re looking for a compelling page turner or a dark tale that will get you out of a reading rut, few will suffice quite as well as Notes on a Scandal.
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