The Secret History
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The Secret History

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Truly deserving of the accolade Modern Classic, Donna Tartt's cult bestseller The Secret History 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 for ever.show more

Product details

  • Paperback | 640 pages
  • 128 x 196 x 32mm | 479.99g
  • Penguin Books Ltd
  • London, United Kingdom
  • English
  • 0140167773
  • 9780140167771
  • 1,368

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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.show more

Review quote

The Secret History succeeds magnificently ... A remarkably powerful novel [and] a ferociously well-paced entertainment ... Forceful, cerebral, and impeccably controlled New York Times So irresistible and seductive it's almost a guilty pleasure Guardian A huge, mesmerizing, galloping read Vanity Fair Donna Tartt is an amazingly good writer. She's dense, she's allusive. She's a gorgeous storyteller -- Stephen King Takes my breath away -- Ruth Rendell Brilliant and compulsive Evening Standard 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 Timesshow more

Review Text

The Brat Pack meets The Bacchae in this precious, way-too-long, and utterly unsuspenseful town-and-gown murder tale. A bunch of ever-so-mandarin college kids in a small Vermont school are the eager epigones of an aloof classics professor, and in their exclusivity and snobbishness and eagerness to please their teacher, they are moved to try to enact Dionysian frenzies in the woods. During the only one that actually comes off, a local farmer happens upon them - and they kill him. But the death isn't ruled a murder - and might never have been if one of the gang - a cadging sybarite named Bunny Corcoran - hadn't shown signs of cracking under the secret's weight. And so he too is dispatched. The narrator, a blank-slate Californian named Richard Pepen chronicles the coverup. But if you're thinking remorse-drama, conscience masque, or even semi-trashy who'll-break-first? page-turner, forget it: This is a straight gee-whiz, first-to-have-ever-noticed college novel - "Hampden College, as a body, was always strangely prone to hysteria. Whether from isolation, malice, or simple boredom, people there were far more credulous and excitable than educated people are generally thought to be, and this hermetic, overheated atmosphere made it a thriving black petri dish of melodrama and distortion." First-novelist Tartt goes muzzy when she has to describe human confrontations (the murder, or sex, or even the ping-ponging of fear), and is much more comfortable in transcribing aimless dorm-room paranoia or the TV shows that the malefactors anesthetize themselves with as fate ticks down. By telegraphing the murders, Tartt wants us to be continually horrified at these kids - while inviting us to semi-enjoy their manneristic fetishes and refined tastes. This ersatz-Fitzgerald mix of moralizing and mirror-looking (Jay McInerney shook and poured the shaker first) is very 80's - and in Tartt's strenuous version already seems dated, formulaic. Les Nerds du Mal - and about as deep (if not nearly as involving) as a TV movie. (Kirkus Reviews)show more

About Donna Tartt

Donna Tartt was born in Greenwood, Mississippi, and is a graduate of Bennington College. She is the author of the novels The Secret History and The Little Friend, which have been translated into thirty languages, and The Goldfinch.show more