The Secret History by Donna Tartt

Penguin Books Ltd. 1992. 658 pages

The cover of this novel is very reflective of the overall mood of the book. Intellectual , cold and dark. Narrated in the fashion of a recollection, Richard Papen , a young student from Plano, California is desperate to get out of his bleak family and surroundings. He went the completely opposite path , landed himself a scholarship in Hampden College in Vermont. There he tries to reinvent himself and drink in his intellectual pursuits. He discovers an intriguing Greek class offered by a professor infamous for his unorthodox method of selelction and lesson delivery. Richard becomes obsessed when he finds out that the professor takes only 5 students, and he becomes a close observer of this group composed of reserved and solitary elite students.

He soon manages to befriend the group and is welcomed into the class. In awe with his new found friends,  he plays along the role of someone from a well-off family.

After a long, painful and arduous path to upkeeping his facade, he discovers that his friends are behind an accidental murder, and from there on, the plot gets into a darker pool of social and psychological consequences.

The story focusing on young and well off individuals, the novel reminds me of a vamped up classier style of Christopher Pike meets “Year of Living Dangerously” kind of behavioral story.

The entire work could have done with a faster pace (but yes the unhurried pace is what it is made of), it was too drawn out in my opinion, and though I enjoyed the manner of how it ended, it was hardly engaging–too much reflection killed the climax in the end.

Fans of ancient Greek and literature will enjoy.

the author, Donna Tartt.


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