There are a few books of the great many we read that stand out above all others - for what they say, or of character or the mark they leave on our very being. Of all time for me Nabokov's: 'Lolita' and the tragic Delores stands without peer, last year it was Warrick Collins warm and gentle look at three toilet cleaners: 'Gents', and having just put down 'Notes on a Scandal', I know that Bathsheba will hold a very special place in my mind for a very long time to come.
At its core 'Notes' is a story about what people will do to control and shape a relationship to their own needs. As the detail of Barbara's diary unfolds we are served with the sinister manipulation of those we call loved ones and friends, a good helping of wit, and clever observation on human frailty and needs. The characters here are very real and often a very damning expose on the ignorance and narrow outlook of our modern societies. As a quote on the book cover understates: 'Fascinating, brilliant, horribly addictive'.
Ultimately for me the brilliance of this is in how it touches us morally. For me the victim in this is Sheba - she is an object for the esteem and needs of all the characters: Barbara who seeks someone she can control as a companion, Richard her husband who loves and uses her for the trophy she is and Connolly who lives out a young man's fantasy through her. Sheba is Nabokov's Lolita in a middle aged body and although she commits the only criminal act in the story, she is the least guilty of all the characters.