Book Reviews, To My Reader

Book Review: The Secret History by Donna Tartt

29044Published: April 13th 1992 by Vintage.

Format: Paperback, 628 pg.

Goodreads Summary: Under the influence of their charismatic classics professor, a group of clever, eccentric misfits at an elite New England college discover a way of thinking and living that is a world away from the humdrum existence of their contemporaries. But when they go beyond the boundaries of normal morality they slip gradually from obsession to corruption and betrayal, and at last – inexorably – into evil.

Thoughts: This is one of those books that when you began, it grabs ahold of your imagination and doesn’t let you go, not even after you finish reading. Donna Tartt is an impeccable writer. The Secret History is by all means a contemporary story about six college students, but beneath it all there is a sense of mystery and magic. I still can’t wrap my head around it. The book has this 19th century feel that will captive readers. And even though I thought the story was long, I wanted to absorb every word.

“I suppose at one time in my life I might have had any number of stories, but now there is no other. This is the only story I will ever be able to tell.”

While reading I couldn’t help but think that our main character Richard Papen was too ordinary to be the story’s narrator. He was bland in the presence of others around him. His fellow students, extraordinary professor, and even the secondary characters were more interesting to read about at times. Why wasn’t the main character so much more? The more I think about it the more I understand. The was the entire point. Donna Tartt wanted readers to see just how different everyone else carried themselves. How much more dynamic the other students were. Think of it this way. Richard Papen is to The Secret History what Nick Carraway was to The Great Gatsby. He’s just the story teller.

The Secret History is an incredibly dark tale that incorporates the literary influence of many of today’s classics. Get ready to want to read the Iliad by Homer after this. In the end, a close group of friends are bonded by something more than just their studies. When you think the story is going one way Donna Tartt spins everything on its head. This is a novel that is able to balance beauty and dread in equal measure. A must read.

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What do you think?

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