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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.
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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)
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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful
5 out of 5 stars
By Joan on 02-17-07

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.

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12 of 12 people found this review helpful

5 out of 5 stars
By Everett Leiter on 08-11-07


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.

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9 of 9 people found this review helpful

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