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The Secret History Paperback – September 11, 1992
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“The Secret History succeeds magnificently. . . . A remarkably powerful novel [and] a ferociously well-paced entertainment. . . . Forceful, cerebral, and impeccably controlled.” --The New York Times
“An accomplished psychological thriller. . . . Absolutely chilling. . . . Tartt has a stunning command of the lyrical.” --The Village Voice
“Beautifully written, suspenseful from start to finish.” --Vogue
“A haunting, compelling, and brilliant piece of fiction. . . . Packed with literary allusion and told with a sophistication and texture that owes much more to the nineteenth century than to the twentieth.” --The Times (London)
“Her writing bewitches us. . . . The Secret History is a wonderfully beguiling book, a journey backward to the fierce and heady friendships of our school days, when all of us believed in our power to conjure up divinity and to be forgiven any sin.” --The Philadephia Inquirer
“Enthralling. . . . A remarkably powerful novel [and] a ferociously wll-paced entertainment. . . . Forceful, cerebral, and impeccably controlled.” --The New York Times Book Review
“A huge, mesmerizing, galloping read, pleasurably devoured. . . . .Gorgeously written, relentlessly erudite.” –Vanity Fair
From the Inside Flap
Truly deserving of the accolade a modern classic, Donna Tartt's novel is a remarkable achievement--both compelling and elegant, dramatic and playful.
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 their lives are changed profoundly and forever, and they discover how hard it can be to truly live and how easy it is to kill.
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Tartt has written a great novel, excelling the same way as her contemporary males (my initial thought is Jonathan Franzen's "the Corrections"). I perhaps "liked" The Goldfinch" more simply because I liked Theo better than Richard. But overall, "the Secret History" is a much better written story.
This was a tough story to get through for me. I got stuck about a third of the way in and languished there interminably until the last quarter of the book. The story is slow. This is hard because she gives you the normal "twist" right at the beginning. So the whole middle of the book is the slow dissolve of these characters. How they came apart and what the consequences were. Now having finished the story, hindsight allows me to appreciate this slow dissolve and see the bigger picture she drew.
So my advice is to stick with it, if this is your type of story. Afterwards, I highly recommend watching the episode "Whom the Gods Would Destroy" from Masterpiece Theater's Inspector Lewis (season 1). It has a loosely similar theme, and much more fun.