Monday, 23 March 2009
Notes on a Scandal
This is a beautiful book, but as an exercise in point of view it is a masterpiece.
There is a first person narrator, but one who has such a strong agenda. You just know that each of her observations is going to be coloured.
I do believe that, at last, I can see the narrative as distinct from the story, and oh how it adds to the pleasure.
Who is the protagonist?
The story is about Sheba, the account of her downfall; this is how it seems, but then doubts begin to creep in. The narrator, Barbara, is, like any narrator, in control of how the story is heard. Slowly, almost imperceptibly, we begin to see her hand digging deeper than the narrative into the story itself, then deeper than the story into being the trigger for events (taking the three tiers expounded by Bal amongst others). The is much more than an unreliable narrator; this is a narrator who is affecting the characters so much so that Sheba, who began by ignoring Barabara, ends under her power.
There is perhaps an echo from Hotel de Dream where Emma Tennant paints a picture of an author finding her characters in open rebellion.