The Reading List: Scandals
Monday 20 June 2011
'Notes on a Scandal' by Zoë Heller (Penguin, £2.60)
A murky tale of middle-class scandal from Zoë Heller.
When Sheba, an art teacher, begins an affair with a 15-year-old pupil, she confides in Barbara, an older colleague and friend. But Barbara's intentions are flawed; she uses her position to render Sheba entirely dependent, a solution to her own loneliness and obsessions. It is also the subject of an excellent film adaptation starring Cate Blanchett.
'The School for Scandal' by Richard Brinsley Sheridan (Oxford World's Classics, £8.99)
Sheridan's famous play is a masterpiece in comedy and intrigue. Brothers Joseph and Charles contend for the affections of the beautiful Maria, though their intentions are much different. First presented in 1777, it challenged the Georgian social standards of its day with aplomb and remains Sheridan's most-loved work.
'Daisy Miller' by Henry James (Penguin Classics, £5.99)
A vivacious young American travelling in Europe with her mother catches the eye of Frederick Forsyth Winterbourne. When she forms a close friendship with an Italian man, perceptions of her compromising behaviour make her an outcast among American society. It's only later – too late – that Winterbourne discovers her true nature. James's short novel is an elegant portrait of the destruction wrought by the rigidity of social mores.
'Journal of the Plague Year: An Insider's Chronicle of Eliot Spitzer's Short and Tragic Reign' by Lloyd Constantine (Zontik LLC, £ 63.59)
A fast-paced account of the 16 turbulent months that Constantine spent working as a senior advisor to Eliot Spitzer, focusing on the pivotal 61 hours from the moment he received a phone call notifying him of the news that Spitzer had patronised the notorious brothel, Emperors Club VIP. With the story about to dominate the front pages of newspapers the next day, Constantine was forced into a frantic exercise of limiting damage.
'Scandal' by John Clare (Everyman Poetry, £3.00)
"She stands with eager haste at slander's tale / And drinks the news as drunkards drink their ale." Clare's poignant reflection on a gossip-mongering young woman captures, wonderfully, the hypocrisy that is embedded in our observation of social scandal.
Film The critics but sneer but these unfashionable festive films are our favourites
TV We're so close to knowing what happened to Oliver Hughes, but a last-minute bluff crushes expectations
Arts & Ents blogs
- 1 Planes go hybrid-electric in important step to greener flight
- 2 North Korean prison officers 'cooked prisoner's baby and fed it to their dogs', more horrific accounts from UN report reveal
- 3 Antonio Martin shooting: Mayor says there should be 'no comparison' to Ferguson
- 4 Antonio Martin shooting: Police and protesters clash over teenager's death just five miles from Ferguson, Missouri
- 5 British actor Idris Elba cannot star as James Bond because he is black, says shock jock Rush Limbaugh
Nigel Farage defends Kerry Smith 'ch***y' comment: 'If you are going for a Chinese, what do you say you’re going for?'
Rozanne Duncan: Ukip expels councillor for 'jaw-dropping' comments made in BBC TV interview
British actor Idris Elba cannot star as James Bond because he is black, says shock jock Rush Limbaugh
Germany anti-Islam protests: 17,000 march on Dresden against 'Islamification of the West'
Panic Saturday: 13 million Britons spend £1.2bn – while 13 million others across the country live in poverty unable to afford food
BBC director Danny Cohen: Rising UK antisemitism makes me feel more uncomfortable than ever