Customer Review

44 of 49 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Dark Page Turner, February 2, 2000
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This review is from: The Secret History (Paperback)
I find it ironic that this book which was so inpired by the classics was the one to make me cast away my copies of Milton, Chaucer and even Balzac for more contemporary fiction. In a world taken over by Mary Higgins Clark and Danielle Steele, it is nice to know that there is something else out there. In contrast to many of the reviews I have read, I didn't feel that the characters were unlikeable. I admired Henry for his intelligence and discipline, I was surprised by his supposed sacrifice for Charles' sake which did give his character more depth. From the moment I started reading, I couldn't put it down. I found that I was able to identify with all of these characters, Richard for his insecurities with his former life, Bunny for his tendency to say the wrong thing without realizing or caring, Francis for so badly desiring something he could not have, Charles for his all consuming jealousy, Henry for his stubborness and Camilla for her imagined fears. It was my ability to identify with all of the characters that made me so interested in the story. So few books are able to capture my interest for 500+ pages. "The Secret History" was beautifully written. Tartt was able to accuratly put into words the picture of a small New England town. It is true that she often added details, not quite subplots, to the story that didn't have much to do with the main plot, but that is part of the beauty of her writing. It makes for a more realistic story with these added details. Life is generally random, unrelated events all woven together contributing to some greater purpose, though not always directly. Stories that can be wrapped up nicely under a big red bow, with every part contributing to the last page may be easier to read,and they may be shorter, but not that realistic, or even that interesting.
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Showing 1-1 of 1 posts in this discussion
Initial post: Dec 13, 2012 6:50:54 PM PST
Excellent review, Jake! I agree wholeheartedly with the points you make regarding seemingly irrelevant details in stories. Too many writers have relied on instructors' advice to leave out side commentary on little details that don't further the plot; to me, as a reader, what's just as important as the plot is the setting, and some random observations by characters on the setting or peripheral characters who populate the world of the story, are essential to my being drawn into the reality the author creates. I have found myself doing much the same thing when I write. I thought this book was one of the most delightful I've ever read, and it should be influential to aspiring writers.
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