The Secret History

The Secret History

Book - 2004
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"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." -- Back cover.
Publisher: New York :, Vintage Books ;, Toronto :, Random House of Canada, Limited, 2004.
Edition: First Vintage Contemporaries edition.
Copyright Date: ©1992
ISBN: 9781400031702
Branch Call Number: FIC TART
Characteristics: 559 pages ; 21 cm


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Nov 27, 2018

The Secret History is the gateway into the world of dark academia. It's dark tone and thoughtful, introspective narrative make it a heavy read, but a worthwhile one. It has a fairly slow pace that makes you pay attention to the details to get an understanding of what’s going on. It’s use of rich imagery and poetic descriptions gives the reader a vivid idea of people and places. All of the characters are complex and feel very real in how they behave. The progression of the plot flows in a natural way from one event to the next. The bits of wisdom about life, intelligence, people, love, and beauty that are interwoven throughout the story changed the way I view things in my life. Overall, reading this book felt like a spiritual experience and left me feeling an echo of the story for days. 5/5
- @nickreads of the Teen Review Board of the Hamilton Public Library

Oct 25, 2018

This book makes me nostalgic for a cold, picturesque college campus I never went to--eternally shrouded in fog. It has an almost timeless feel, for a specific time I can't quite place (I often had to remind myself that it was not set in England nor earlier in the twenteith century). I want to read it near a fire place in the dark of winter, every yearr. The characters are real and gripping. You may be unsure of who to dislike or love, but you will be sure to eat up every last word even though you won't want it to end.

Oct 22, 2018

A whodunnit that tells you on the very first page who did it...but you'll want to find out why it was done!

WestSlope_TheaH Aug 21, 2018

Donna Tartt’s suspenseful and atmospheric 1992 debut novel is a murder mystery set at a private college in New England. I highly recommend this story to fans of Tana French’s The Likeness; both stories share a keen understanding of the dynamics of tight-knit groups of twenty-somethings. Tartt’s writing is character-driven, compelling, and stylistically complex. The Secret History is a bestseller and has a cult following. Tartt went on to win the Pulitzer Prize for her 2013 novel The Goldfinch.

Jul 23, 2018

Having struggled through "The Goldfinch", I decided to read this story due to the author's command of the English language and character development. The story provides tremendous insight into the thinking process of the elite viewed through the eyes of a 'commoner' coupled with darkness and incest. Tratt is a gifted storyteller and in my opinion this story is superior to Goldfinch in many ways. Having met someone that encountered her at a book signing, it comes as little surprise her characters come from old money, which I always find fascinating. Regardless this is a story well told and highly recommended.

May 24, 2018

Fantastic book. Well-developed characters and extremely fast-paced. Couldn't put it down. For anyone who likes well-developed and literate writing

Mar 22, 2018

One and a half stars because this isn't the worst writing I've ever read.

My wife and I think that Donna Tartt must have been homeschooled, never made any real friends until late in life, grew up watching old black and white movies with her parents, and reading dime novels and mythology from before 1960. Her History is written as if it takes place sometime before 1963, yet context clues place it much later. Her main character saw the moon landing on TV in 1969, and is only 20 when the story takes place. Since I did watch the moon landing on TV at age 8, I realize that I couldn't have been much younger and remember the event. My brother-in-law, two years younger, barely recalls the landing at all, and he was 6. So, if I give the character the age of 5, to be generous, that would mean they were born in 1964, which - if they're 20 now - puts the story in 1984. Yet, characters in the book speak of 1982 as if it's years ago, long long ago.

Bunny as a male name, the old-school style of dressing, the pretentious vocabulary, all leads one to think she really meant it for a much earlier time, but then we have a side character doing Jane Fonda's workout videos (mid to late '80s). I really couldn't tell if the author had actually lived through the time she was writing about, so we looked up her age - she's only two years younger than I am. Supposedly, we lived through many of the same events, but you sure can't tell it from her writing.

I'm supposed to be making notes in this book for a special project. So far, most of my notes are, "When was this book set???" Or, in some cases, the meanings of words I had to look up, such as 'carious' used to mean the after-effects of precarious, which isn't really an appropriate use of the word. I think the writer works at being pretentious.

I don't know Greek and only a bit of Latin, so I have had to learn to guess well on context whenever they speak "privately." The story is extremely slow-moving but I have to admit that it's dull mainly because nothing really makes any sense. College students don't dress like that, talk like that, behave that way, or do those things, anymore, and haven't for decades. It really is a lot like The Great Gatsby, except Gatsby was blessedly short by comparison. It also somewhat reminds me of The Talented Mr. Ripley. But, if you think about it, those were both pretentious, too - just pretentious within their time frames. If I didn't have to finish the book for my project, I wouldn't. I'm about 7/8 of the way through and just hoping that the ending gives some kind of meaning to the rest. For me, the mystery has not been the main event of the book, but the continual attempt to set a time period.

SPPL_Violet Mar 17, 2018

Donna Tartt's debut novel is hailed as modern masterpiece. This work of literary fiction may not be suitable for some, though. The story follows a group of young aesthetes studying classical Greek in a small New Hampshire college in the 90's. Their social bond consists of feelings of superiority over their peers, Greek literature, and wild romps in the country that lead to tragedy. None of the main characters are likable, but their story is compelling. Languidly paced, beautifully written. Lovers of language rejoice! This is a book for you. If you're looking for a fast-paced thriller, I wouldn't recommend this one.

Oct 23, 2017

Contrary to many others, I didn't find this book ponderous in the least. Instead, I enjoyed the realistic pace at which events steadily unfolded in retrograde and through recollection, and was completely glued to it. Richard as narrator is our counterpart as the reader: passive at first - more of a voyeur to the group whose relationships with each other and their professor cannot be known prior to our introduction - but soon enough a confidante in the circle left wrestling with what's been revealed. My rating was knocked down a bit because I was disappointed that Julian remains distant for the most part, like we can't really know him (although this does figure in later). I want to know about the students' experience with him up to that point and how his teaching set everything in motion. I just wanted MORE backstory and to know their relationships with the ancient Greek literature and culture that made up the core of their study... To speak to the connection between this work and The Goldfinch, I see it in Richard and Theo, in that they are kind of sophists moving in their adopted worlds; for Richard it is that of his well-off friends, and for Theo it is the world in general following the traumatic event that defined his life from that point.

CRRL_MegRaymond Sep 25, 2017

Six students at an elite New England University for a tight-knit circle. But they have more in common than studying Greek.

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Aug 04, 2017

actually they're studying ancient Greek, and their social bond is a sense of superiority over the other students as well as local working-class people, and they do horrible things over the course of 1 school year, told from point of view of an incoming freshman who pretends to be rich like them because he admires their inhumane snobbery and is bored and ashamed of his own background.

Jun 01, 2016

Six college friends become more closely connected through their secluded study of Latin, but all they believed to be true about one another and their intentions crumbles when a series of unpredictable events spirals out of control.


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Aug 19, 2015

VV12 thinks this title is suitable for 13 years and over


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Aug 18, 2015

Other: incest


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Jun 02, 2016

"Bunny had been dead for several weeks before we came to understand the gravity of our situation."

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