Review: The Secret History – Donna Tartt

SYNOPSIS: 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 they slip gradually from obsession to corruption and betrayal, and at last – inexorably – into evil. – via Goodreads

I absolutely adored The Goldfinch. I was so complete hooked on that when I read it a few years ago. I should give it another read, I would love to. I saw The Secret History recently and decided to give it a go because, years ago, I ended up reading The Goldfinch because a fellow blogger, Joseph, loved this book and we decided to read her latest together, and I said I would get to this someday. Well, that was years ago, but I can finally cross this one off my plate. And honestly, I didn’t love this one, and I had high hopes for it.

That is not to say that The Secret History is a bad read, per se, but I felt that it was way longer than necessary and filled with hateful characters. Also, the first half of the book is filled up wonderfully and keeps you reading, keeps you hooked, but after that fateful fall of Bunny, the story sort of starts falling apart, and the writing doesn’t come across as as genuine as before. Wow, so much”as” in that sentence.

Anyway, Bunny is a truly horrific character, so I almost struggled to feel bad about how it ended. It’s like Tartt tries to bring you around to him a few times, and I just couldn’t. He was cruel and insufferable. Not that the rest of that twisted friends group was really any better, but for real. Ugh. Henry is an odd character, and so is Francis, and eventually you are reading about these people in a confused kind of way, because where, exactly, is this story going? Well, nowhere, really. It is just a story about a crappy thing that happened which led to another crappy thing happening, and the whole affair is cold and calculated but still completely devoid of reeling you in completely.

There is also the issue of “under the influence of their charasmatic professor” – I expected a totally different type of story. I thought Julian would be involved up to his neck in the goings on of this group, and instead he hardly appears in the book at all. Anyway, while The Secret History is not a terrible read, it certainly isn’t The Goldfinch. It’s just a really long read for an okay book, though the first half is really good.

6 thoughts on “Review: The Secret History – Donna Tartt

  1. Great review. I’ve heard so much about this book that I feel like I should read it. Your review makes me feel like I should opt for just getting the audio book. My threshold for enjoyment of a book is lower when I’m just using it to get through morning rush hour traffic without losing my mind. lol

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thanks! Yeah, that’s pretty much why I read it, felt like I had to. Ahhh, that makes sense! Give the audiobook a shot then, at least you’ve got the story then and haven’t lost your mind in traffic 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Great post. I think this is Donna Tartt’s masterpiece and not The Goldfinch. I liked The Goldfinch, but I also thought it was too long. There was virtually nothing happening in its middle part and it just goes on and on with memories and feelings, whereas The Secret History shines with brilliance and intelligence at every corner, and is succinctly written. But, I do get your criticism too – I guess people are just divisive when it comes to her books. Btw, have you read Donna Tartt’s The Little Friend. I would love to hear your opinion on that too.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thanks! Yeah, I’ve seen a lot of love for this, and my opinion goes against the general consensus. Not a bad book, I just felt like it was a flat affair. It does seem like her books are rather divisive! I actually was about 60% through it and then we immigrated and what with all the packing and moving I never finished it, but I would like to go back and read it in it’s entirety as I was enjoying it and would like to see how it all plays out.

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