Book Review: The Secret History

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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 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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The Secret History isn’t what I typically read but the Classics minor in me was desperate to read this book so I did and I’m glad I did. Like I said, it’s not what I typically read but Donna Tartt has an amazing way with words. The writing of this book was phenomenal. Usually I prefer dialogue to plot but the way Tartt wrote this novel I absolutely loved all the descriptions and I didn’t skim. I couldn’t skim because if I did I would miss something.

The novel is told in the point of view of Richard, who recently transferred to a New England college from California. He’s not rich like his classmates and he’s seemingly an outsider. However, it’s his gift for the ancient Greek language that get’s him in with the Classics kids. Made up of a group of five students and a professor the Classics students are seen as an elitist group on the campus that can’t be bothered with anyone else. They’re kind of like the popular kids except not really because everyone thinks they’re kind of weird.

The group consists of Henry, the quasi-leader, the twins, Camilla and Charles, Francis, Bunny, and their professor, Julian. Thrust into this world that he doesn’t fully understand Richard soon discovers himself tangled up in a web of crazy that leads to murder, something that could’ve come straight out of a Greek tragedy. And don’t worry, the murder isn’t a spoiler; you find out about it in the prologue. What’s interesting about this book is discovering the how and why it happens.

This book was full of twists that surprised me and I never knew what to expect from this group. My favorite part about this novel was definitely the characters and how they viewed the world. Although at times I did see some of them (mainly Henry) as pretentious there was also some humor to be found in how they carried themselves.

Overall, I definitely enjoyed this book and I’m glad I picked it up. I’m not sure if I’d read it again but it’s still one I’m glad I have on my shelf, if for no other reason then I want to give it to everyone to read so we can discuss it.


4 stars

Favorite Line:

Love doesn’t conquer everything. And whoever thinks that it does is a fool.

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