The Secret History

The Secret History

The Secret History by Donna Tartt

Synopsis: When Richard Papen begins school at a small New England college, his plans of going pre-med are instantly squashed as he is enticed by a small, but extremely tight knit group of students who are studying Classical Language. Though he knows his parents would not approve, he can’t help but change his focus. And as he grows closer to the existing group of 5, he begins to discover secrets that will leave him questioning his decision…and just about everything else he knew to be true in life.

Thoughts: I’m having trouble with this one. I’ve written and rewritten the first sentence so many times, that it’s time to come clean. Part of the problem is that I read this a few books ago and didn’t make any notes. But that’s no excuse for the book – rather I think the problem is that it didn’t really leave much of an impression on me.

Plotwise, the book fell a little short for me. I think the author was reaching for a huge surprise factor, but I just couldn’t buy into some of the plot twists she threw in. Now, don’t get me wrong – I did enjoy this read – the storyline was exciting, but I just had trouble believing some of it. Tartt described her main characters with painstaking detail – who they were, where they came from, and, of course, where they were headed (or hoping to head) in life. After that much detail, a pretty clear picture for each character formed in my head. And when the actions didn’t exactly fit with the person carrying them out, I became a little wary of the story.

Although I suppose you could make the argument in regards to this story that drastic times do call for drastic measures.

Aside from all that, I have to give props to Tartt for her writing style. I loved that you couldn’t quite tell which era these kids were from. Their speech and mannerisms were from a somewhat older time, but their problems and reactions seemed more modern. A unique combo, but oddly, it worked!

Overall Grade: B+

Up Next: The Alchemist by Paolo Coelho


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