Shortlisted for the Man Booker Prize
Now a Major Motion Picture
Schoolteacher Barbara Covett has led a solitary life until Sheba Hart, the new art teacher at St. George's, befriends her. But even as their relationship develops, so too does another: Sheba has begun an illicit affair with an underage male student. When the scandal turns into a media circus, Barbara decides to write an account in her friend's defenseand ends up revealing not only Sheba's secrets, but also her own.
In the end, What Was She Thinking? isn't so much about the standard student-teacher affair as it is about the complicated weights and balances of female friendships. Some of the novel's funniest scenes show the women adopting a posture of honesty and ''supportiveness'' while privately judging or dismissing one another. It's a recognizable snit-fit of ''enough about you, what about me'' that pushes Barbara into her final betrayal. In a way, Barbara risks more for friendship than Sheba does for romance. The plot twist may not be a huge surprise, but Heller handles it with wry grace, managing to mock her characters without allowing their story to tip into farce. Lisa Zeidner