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The Secret History

Tartt, Donna

(Book - 2004)
Average Rating: 4 stars out of 5.
The Secret History
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Richard Papen had never been to New England before his nineteenth year. Then he arrived at Hampeden College and quickly became seduced by the sweet, dark rhythms of campus life -- in particular by an elite group of five students, Greek scholars, worldly, self-assured, and at first glance, highly unapproachable.
Publisher: New York : Vintage Contemporaries, 2004
Edition: 1st Vintage Contemporaries ed
ISBN: 1400031702
9781400031702
Branch Call Number: FICTION TARTT 2004
Characteristics: 559 p. ;,21 cm

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Join us for the discussion on April 2, 2015. Under the influence of their charismatic classics professor, a group of clever, eccentric misfits at an elite New England college discovers a way of thinking and living that is a world away from the humdrum existence of their contemporaries.

Richard Papen had never been to New England before his nineteenth year. Then he arrived at Hampeden College and quickly became seduced by the sweet, dark rhythms of campus life -- in particular by an elite group of five students, Greek scholars, worldly, self-assured, and at first glance, highly ... Read More »

At the very beginning of this haunting novel, we learn that four classics students at a New England college have killed another member of their exclusive, tight-knit clique. Tartt brilliantly portrays the steps that take this eccentric circle of friends to what seems to be inevitable--murder. Th... Read More »

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... Read More »


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Nov 17, 2014
  • BookishWallaby rated this: 2.5 stars out of 5.

Clearly Ms. Tartt is well educated, but everything didn't end up coming together by the end.

Why were these students so obsessed with their professor? We get very little of their interactions with him, so it basically ends up making no sense to the reader that they are willing to go to great lengths to emulate some lifestyle they think he is advocating.

The book was well written and mostly enjoyable, but by the end I was frustrated and a little confused as to what these kids were so obsessed over.

boring, it dragged along. I am wishing I had quit halfway through.

Oct 18, 2014
  • vulture1 rated this: 3 stars out of 5.

I have not quite finished the book = have about 100 pages to go. Although I found the concept quite interesting and Tartt's descriptive accounts of how "Bunny" could drive his classmates into a murderous rage,were excellent, there was, I thought, a lot of what I call "filler Also I think the average reader does not speak Greek or Latin, so the author could have provided English translations for the Greek phrases used. To me, this is being a show=off. Overall, a good read.

Aug 04, 2014
  • katmilr rated this: 0.5 stars out of 5.

Boring, slow, & anticlimatic. How is this labeled a thriller? Could the characters be anymore pretentious?

This book was suspenseful enough to keep my attention, and the author displays an impressive knowledge of classical works. I enjoyed it and would recommend it. I didn't love it because while I mostly thought it was beautifully written, I often found it verbose. The funeral scene almost gratuitously wallowed in discomfort and melodrama. The characters were very cynical. I found them interesting, but I could see why readers would stop caring about them. In all, though, the story kept me turning pages, and the writing and character development were excellent.

Jun 24, 2014
  • smichal rated this: 0.5 stars out of 5.

I'm giving up on it half way through. First of all, who goes to university to study Greek? It's a bunch of junior Thurston Howell the IIIs. You can imagine them saying "by Jove", "old boy", etc. {eye roll!} After 200 pages or so, we learn that the classmates killed a farmer, and one of them is blackmailing the others so they want to kill him too. The story is so boring and there is just too much text. It rambles on and on. I honestly cannot believe that this book was in the New York Times best seller list.

Jun 05, 2014
  • 55France rated this: 4 stars out of 5.

Self absorbed and intellectual, college students casually become involved with murder without much thought to how serious that might be. A great, strange book. Written from the point of view of an awkward, lonely outsider attempting to join the group.

May 28, 2014
  • KristiShort rated this: 5 stars out of 5.

I enjoyed this book very much. Unfortunately, I was introduced to Donna Tartt with The Little Friend, which is pretty slow. So I wasn't very interested in reading this book, but I'm certainly glad I did!

Apr 24, 2014
  • patienceandfortitude rated this: 4 stars out of 5.

A strange and fascinating tale of college students in a small Classics program, who become involved in murder. Reminds me of the advantages of no longer being that young.

Very different from The Goldfinch, but a great work in its own right. The horror creeps up on you. Shades of Gatsby and Lord of the Flies. Great option for a book discussion.

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