So before you think it, I know, I’m about twenty years late on The Secret History.
My dad came over the other day (who isn’t a big reader) and says, Oh that’s a good book. If he’s read it, then I’m definitely behind.
The first Donna Tartt novel I read was a few months ago. It was The Little Friend, a book that I’d picked out because of the creepy looking doll on the cover, and the small font—I only read books with small font which is a big hindrance when choosing a book to read.
The Little Friend drew me in because of the cover and the blurb. But I’ve never been so disappointed when reading a book. It took me months, but I was so determined to finish it because I’d already invested so many hours of reading just to make it halfway. I stuck it out, but it went straight in the charity bag (and I rarely throw books out).
I’d heard many good things about The Secret History, so decided to give Tartt another chance. And I am so glad I did.
The Secret History follows a group of six friends, narrated by Richard, who’s one of the six. The group have murdered one of their six, Bunny. This is revealed in the prologue, before the actual book has even started. It starts at the end, and then returns to the beginning, showing us how and why the group ended up killing one of their own. Will Yates, in his review on Oxford Student, claims the novel has been described as a ‘whydunnit’ as opposed to the traditional Poe-sian ‘whodunnit’.
The Secret History is a harrowing tale, and I won’t give away any spoilers. Each member of the group have their problems. Richard, the narrator, is poor and spends much of the book trying to convince the group otherwise.
The rest of the group, Henry, Francis, Camilla, Charles, and Bunny are from extremely privileged backgrounds. Most receive money every month from their parents. They’re all students, studying Classics at Hampden College by their elusive and bizarre professor, Julian. Tartt shows that although the rest are more privileged than Richard, they have as many problems as him. Charles is an alcoholic, Francis is a gay man who struggles to find reciprocated love, Henry is too proud.
And Bunny finds out a secret that he won’t let the others live down. So they decide to shut him up themselves. This is revealed at the beginning. The remainder of the book shows the run up to the murder, and also how they evade being found out by the police, their college and the FBI. It shows how guilt can hammer down on you, force you to do things that you wouldn’t otherwise have considered. Can the group pretend it never happened, or will one of them crack?
The Secret History was a fabulous novel. At 630 pages it was a long one, but every page was needed. The characters were so deep and…real? Tartt truly captures the feeling that you’ve been let into a huge secret, that you mustn’t tell anyone else. You become the 7th member of the group, experiencing things as they do.
The Greek, Latin, Italian, and French elements that appear in the novel only seem to draw you into a different world that you didn’t know existed.
Buy your copy now, with £2 off – only £6.99!
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