This is a very naughty book (read the excerpt below to get
an idea). But upon further reflection after one thorough read,
we found it to be disturbing as well – because of the
unimaginably “abnormal” and “psychotic”
things people can do to possess, gasp, a relationship.
why would people result to that sorry state? According to
this Zoe Heller book, it probably has something to do with
novel is an engaging documentation by history teacher Barbara
Covett on a scandalous affair between the new pottery teacher
Sheba Hart and her student. As the book progresses, you realize
that the diary written by this woman of status isn’t
about the indecent relationship, but about the scary thoughts
she has in her mind.
novel has been adapted by Peter Marber into an Oscar-nominated
film screenplay. The movie version directed by Richard Eyre
stars the regally sinister Judi Dench as Barbara and the versatile
Cate Blanchett as Sheba. Both acclaimed actresses are so convincing
that they have earned Academy Award nominations for their
must be glad that her 2003 book is such a critical hit.
times cheeky, at times creepy, this easy-to-read book will
hook you with its stark portrayal of human loneliness. The
way Barbara sticks stars onto her diary pages whenever she
feels happy about her friendship with Sheba is simply spine-chilling.
The way Barbara manipulates Sheba into a situation with her
hush-hush affair is gleefully wicked. And the way Barbara
puts on a face of an angel at the beginning of the book is
compellingly written too.
question now is, whether readers will sympathize with Barbara
when her diary explains her despicable actions?
are, you will. Because you’ve had that sense of loss
and loneliness, but have never let it be shown. So when the
novel presents its satisfying ending (at least, a more gratifying
one than the film version) to you, you’d be left in
“The first time I saw him undress, you know what I thought
of, Barbara? Fresh garden vegetables wrapped in a clean white
hanky. Mushrooms fresh from the soil. No, really. He was edible.
He washed his hair every night. Imagine! It was limp with
cleanness. The vanity of adolescence, probably. Or no –
perhaps the anxiety of it. His body was a new toy still: he
hadn’t learnt to treat it with the indifferent neglect
naughty - you must be wondering what else is in store after
reading the above excerpt. Well, we hate to disappoint, but
there isn’t much more titillating writing elsewhere
in the book. But the real reward here is to read a woman’s
lonesome journey to what can potentially destroy her.
by John Li