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Publisher's Summary

Schoolteacher Barbara Covett has led a bitter, lonely life as a self-made careerist. Sheba Hart is an ethereal, inexperienced new pottery teacher. When Barbara hears of Sheba's problems in the classroom, a maternal pity arises in her that soon leads to friendship and confidence. But Barbara is unprepared for the secret she will learn: that Sheba has begun a passionate affair with an underage male student. Barbara's confusion, disapproval, and jealousy are helpless to prevent the coming disaster.

When the story 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 Sheba's secrets, but her own. What results is a complex psychological portrait framed as a wicked satire - a story of passion and repression, mercy and betrayal.

©2003 Zoë Heller (P)2006 Blackstone Audio Inc.

Critic Reviews

"Gripping from start to finish; Heller brings vivid, nuanced characterizations to the racy story." (Publishers Weekly)
"Both a penetrating character study and a sharp examination of voyeurism, Heller's novel is utterly brilliant." (Booklist)
"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." (New Yorker)

What listeners say about What Was She Thinking?

Average Customer Ratings
Overall
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  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars

Absolutely stunning

This was my first experience of an audiobook narrated by Nadia May. I was so impressed by her ability to do so many different voices that I immediately looked for another by her.

I haven't yet seen the Oscar-nominated movie, but seriously question whether the movie version can possibly match this narrated version. Nadia May has an amazing ability to bring to life a wide variety of characters, her male voices are as good as the female, and her phrasing and accents are perfect.

The novel itself is one of the best I have had the pleasure of experiencing for a long time, and Zoe Heller, I predict, is going to be one of the most-read novelists of our times. If you had only one novel to read/hear this year, let this be the one.

Very highly recommended indeed.

14 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars

Spellbinding!

I decided to listen to this audiobook after having seen the superb movie version earlier this year. As fascinating as I found the movie, the original book is so filled with layers of subtlety, emotion, ambiguity, and irony that it was hard to put it down. Who is the main protagonist in this story? Is it the naive, inexperienced school teacher Sheba, who lets herself be seduced by an underaged student? Or is it the late middle-aged colleague, Barbara, who seeks to escape her bitter loneliness in befriending Sheba, documenting Sheba's affair in a diary, and ultimately being the possible cause of her downfall? The story is told from the point of view of Barbara: sensible, cautious, frank, but also somewhat self-deluding. Nadia May's narration, as always, is alive and nuanced.

11 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars

Pearl's wisdom

"What was she thinking?: Notes on a Scandal" was excellent. I also saw the movie, and I think the narrator of the book did a wonderful job...I could practically see Judi Dench and Cate Blanchett as I was listening in my car. I would definitely recommend this audio to others.

10 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars

Wonderful Narration

I agree with the other member about Nadia Mays narration. I listened to Notes on a Scandal(did not see the movie) while traveling and at work. I was impressed with how clear Nadia spoke even with an accent. I was equally impressed with her ability to represent each character with a different voice.

I had many "laugh out loud" moments with the text which was enhanced by her characterization. Listening to this audible is encouraging me to get the movie. Hopefully, I will not be disappointed.

8 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars

Took My Breath Away

Several people may already be familiar with this beautifully written book by Zoe Heller. The film 'Notes on a Scandal' was critically acclaimed and well received by audiences all over the world. The performances were impeccable, and the story of teacher and younger lover was somehow beautifully told- a subject which is difficult at best to even grasp.

The novel the movie was based on does not disappoint us. Impeccably read- so much so that one may imagine the love, the bitterness, the jealousy and the anger if it' were happening in front of you- as if you were a fly on the wall so to speak. Heller has created a tale that should garnish hatred and dismay from the reader, instead, we draw empathy and almost love for the beautiful woman who fell into the trap of seduction by a boy, a student in fact. Her older friend and fellow educator had ulterior motives when she made sure Sheba's indiscretions were found for all the world to see. Quick to the rescue Barbara was, all the while secretly proud that she had set off what she wanted to accomplish, which was Sheba's reliance upon her. It was her way of expressing her romantic love for Sheba, who grows more confused with her actions and feelings as things progress.

Heller manages to take into her hands the very imperfections of human kind, and make them beautiful in a different light. We are not inherently bad, but sometimes our feelings are overwhelming and we simply make poor choices along the way.

This book is mesmerizing. The narration is as close to perfection as any I've heard. The story, although in so many ways inappropriate, is somehow beautiful and put together perfectly. This is definitely one of my favourite listens. 5 big stars all the way around, highly recommended.

4 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars

Complex characters and brilliant satire

I have rarely enjoyed an audiobook as much as I enjoyed this. The story itself and the characters are both very realistic and bitingly satirical. The time spent listening to this book literally flew by and I know I will be listetning to it over and over in the weeks to come.

In addition to being a good story with very good characters, this audiobook also sets the standard for narration. The narrator here is nothing short of brilliant. I cannot imagine that the film version of this book brings these characters to life any more than this narrator did with her wonderful performance here. My only fear is that she has spoiled me for other audiobooks.

4 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars
  • GK
  • 10-15-16

Barb is wickedly funny

Would you consider the audio edition of What Was She Thinking? to be better than the print version?

Nadia May's reading nails the tone and characters of this book.

Was there a moment in the book that particularly moved you?

Zoe Heller's dialog. I found myself laughing out loud and gasping in disbelief. A running monologue of the dark, nasty things one thinks about people born from envy, fear and a certain self-righteousness we all have but try our best to never let out.

Any additional comments?

In the novel, Barbara is not the closet lesbian, manipulator as portrayed in the film adaption. Barb does have a catty yet darkly funny monologue about Sheba and the other teachers, administrator and students. After making friends with the beautiful, rich new art teacher named Sheba, she soon discovers Sheba is having an affair with a 15 year old student.
Sheba is out of control and Barb risks her job keeping Sheba's secret. Yes, Barb does suggest to fellow teacher Brian about the affair after he asks Barb out for dinner. Barb thinking he has an interest in her looks forward to it, only to get invited back to his house and asked what his chances are with Sheba. This tips Barb over after several brush offs from Sheba and lies Sheba tells her about ending her illicit and illegal affair. Once the scandal is out in the public, Sheba's husband Richard tosses her out and makes Sheba have supervised visitation with their down syndrome son. Barb is forced to retire early and lets Sheba move in and cares for her. Richard soon takes up with a 20 something year old student. Sheba can't let go of this 15 year old boy emotionally and physically. Barb helps her with quiet patience and a firm grip on the practical after the damage is done. Sharp wit and beautifully read by Nadia May.

2 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars

Notes is excellent!

This book is an excellent and interesting read. I was hooked from the start. The narrator was perfect and the story was very well written. I enjoyed it tremendously!

2 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars

Great narrator

Great story and great narrator I thought the ending was a little weak. It seemed it just sort of stopped. Although I could probably guess what happend next (trial sentencing disgrace, divorce) I sort of wanted more.

2 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars
  • MJ
  • 08-09-21

Compelling novel! Wonderful narrator!

This fictional memoir by an unreliable narrator is a compelling exploration of loneliness, dangerous obsession and betrayal between all of the characters.

An acerbic older teacher, Barbara, develops an obsession with a new educator, Sheba. Barbara devotes her energy to forcing herself into the life of the starry-eyed Sheba with disasterous results for both.

The audiobook narration is excellent. I enjoyed the novel and finished it much faster than I usual! In fact, I was disappointed when it ended. The narration held my attention for hours. Highly recommend!

1 person found this helpful