A couple of weeks ago The Times had another of their book giveaway weeks, this time themed around the Oscars. Increasingly they're not restricting themselves to works that are out of copyright, so one of the freebies was the 2003 novel Notes on a Scandal. I imagine the reasoning behind giving away a book they could easily still charge for is to promote author Zoë Heller's other novels, in which case mission accomplished because if I see any of her other books I'll definitely be buying them based on this, I really enjoyed it. The scandal in question is Sheba, a rather flighty 40-something teacher who has an affair with a 15-year-old student, all documented by her "friend" Barbara, a co-worker who's fixated with Sheba. I saw the film a couple of years ago and from what I remember it was pretty faithful, although the original book is a lot funnier (in a very dry way) than I remember the film being, while still being increasingly sinister in how a stalkerish character gets power over her obsession. Of course one advantage of having seen the film is that as the book's narrated by Barbara, I mentally read the story in the voice of Dame Judi Dench, and obviously there's not much that won't improve. It's also one of those stories told by a narrator who's giving away a lot more about herself than she realises - something I always like but feel like must be a very difficult balancing act to pull off (how to give away what's really going on without your character appearing ridiculously naïve for not realising it etc.) I thought this was spot on and really enjoyed the book altogether.