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The Secret History Paperback – 1 Jul 1993

608 customer reviews

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Product details

  • Paperback: 660 pages
  • Publisher: Penguin Books; Reprint edition (1 July 1993)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0804111359
  • ISBN-13: 978-0804111355
  • ASIN: 0140167773
  • Product Dimensions: 12.9 x 2.7 x 19.8 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (608 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 385 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Donna Tartt was born in Greenwood, Mississippi, and is a graduate of Bennington College. She is the author of the novels The Secret History, The Little Friend, and The Goldfinch, winner of the Pulitzer Prize for Fiction 2014.

Product Description

Review

A haunting, compelling and brilliant piece of fiction (The Times)

So irresistible and seductive it's almost a guilty pleasure (Guardian)

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 huge, mesmerizing, galloping read (Vanity Fair)

A page-turner in the true sense (Independent)

Brilliant (Sunday Times)

From the Back Cover

"A beautifully written story, well-told, funny, sad, scary, and impossible to leave alone until I finished. . . . What a debut!" --John Grisham

"Powerful . . . Enthralling . . . A ferociously well-paced entertainment." --The New York Times

"An accomplished psychological thriller . . . Absolutely chilling . . . Tartt has a stunning command of the lyrical." -- The Village Voice

"A smart, craftsman-like, viscerally compelling novel." --Time

"A thinking-person's thriller . . . Think Lord of the Flies, then The Rules of Attraction. . . . The Secret History combines a bit of both--the unmistakable whiff of evil from William Golding's classic and the mad recklessness of priviledged youth from Bret Easton Ellis's novel of the '80s. . . . As stony and chilling as any Greek tragedian ever plumbed." --New York Newsday

"Tartt's voice is unlike that of any of her contemporaries. Her beautiful language, intricate plotting, fascinating characters, and intellectual energy make her debut by far the most interesting work yet from her generation." --The Boston Globe

"A long tale of friendship, arrogance, and murder knit together with the finesse that many writers will never have . . . Her writing bewitches us . . . The Secret History is a wonderfully beguiling book, a journey backward to the fierce and heady friendships of our school days, when all of us believed in our power to conjure up divinity and to be forgiven any sin." --The Philadelphia Inquirer

"The great pleasure of the novel is the wonderful complexity and the remarkable skill with which this first novelist spins the tale. And a gruesome tale it is. . . . A great, dense, disturbing story, wonderfully told." --Cosmopolitan

"The Secret History
implicates the reader in a conspiracy which begins in bucolic enchantment and ends exactly where it must--though a less gifted or fearless writer would never have been able to imagine such a rich skein of consequence. Donna Tartt has written a mesmerizing and powerful novel." --Jay McInerney

"Donna Tartt has invested this simple and suspenseful plot with a considerable amount of atmosphere and philosophical significance. . . . She's a very good writer indeed." --The Washington Post Book World

"A glorious achievement . . . The Secret History is a grand read--an artful blend of intelligence, entertainment, and suspense that quickens the pulse." --The Virginian Pilot & Ledger-Star

"Beautifully written, suspenseful from start to finish." --Vogue

"One of the best American college novels to come along since John Knowles's A Seperate Peace. . . . Immensely entertaining." --Houston Chronicle

"Donna Tartt is clearly a gifted writer. . . . The cadence of her sentences, the authority with which she shaped 500-plus pages of an erudite page-turner indicate she has the ability to leave her literary contemporaries standing in the road. . . . The decision to murder has about it the inevitability of classical Greek tragedy." --The Miami Herald

"Donna Tartt has a real shot at becoming her generation's Edgar Allan Poe. . . . The Secret History pulses like a telltale heart on steroids." --Glamour

--This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

Inside This Book

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First Sentence
Does such a thing as 'the fatal flaw,' that showy dark crack running down the middle of a life, exist outside literature? I used to think it didn't. Read the first page
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Front Cover | Copyright | Excerpt | Back Cover
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Customer Reviews

4.1 out of 5 stars

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

11 of 11 people found the following review helpful By claudia speri on 27 Oct. 2014
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
Donna Tartt writes very well. She describes her characters, places, emotions and events with great power, color, pitiless truth, sarcasm that reveal her profound knowledge of human character. Her style of writing is lyrical.

However she is more successful in describing the setting of the book rather than the action and she does not develop her characters. Her stories often get stuck as if she did not which direction to take...and the wait until she finds it is a bit painful. Also in both 'The Goldfinch' and in the 'Secret History' the very depiction of the main characters, adolescent and young people of all social strata in America tired me out with their super drugged and exaggerated drunken lifestyle. After a while I did not identify with them any more, I was neither sympathetic to them, nor did I love them or hate them. I just became uninterested and kept on reading. The young generation she writes about has not an iota of freshness, of innocence, of youth, or enthusiasm for life. They are puppets in the hands of fate.

Maybe that is what she wanted to say. But for me it was not enough for 900 pages. 'The Lord of the Flies' says it much better, more poignantly and in fewer pages
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10 of 10 people found the following review helpful By fluff-mum2b on 17 April 2015
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
I'm amazied by the positive reviews on this one and the claims that it's a 'thriller' and a 'modern classic'. I thought the plot was terrible and the characters were worse - not one of them had a good bone in their ridiculous, drink and drug filled bodies. Despite ploughing on thinking that the 'twist' at some point would come, I was disappointed to find it never did and even the end was a let down. We read this as a book club and were all bemused by it..unfortunately I wouldn't recommend.
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful By J. R. on 26 May 2015
Format: Paperback
What starts off as a very good read, intriguing, prodding, swiftly goes downhill and becomes, literally, unreadable. Donna Tartt is no special writer (despite what people, blinded [influenced?], appear to claim), but the opening quarter of her debut 'The Secret History' is surprisingly very good (if you can get past the fact that the male narrator amateurishly sounds completely like a female!) - think of films like 'Dead Poets Society', 'The History Boys', 'Flatliners'. Much in the same vein, it features that feeling of entering higher education, learning of one's self, the joys of new experiences, love/romance/disappointment/fear, feeling part of an elite through social interests etc. However, Tartt then abandons all this, and the last three-quarters of the book, given a "narrative-shift", is like watching an ITV 'made-for-families' murder-drama - in other words, naff, flat, dull, tacky; very 'middle-aged'. It gets so bad, you are able to read a sentence-a-page without missing anything; it then gets to the point where you can't read at all anymore. And this last three-quarters is so bloated (the book is over 600-pages long), you wonder if even a gastric-band would make a difference. A shame, considering the promise of the opening....
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13 of 14 people found the following review helpful By mrs c l gilder on 5 Feb. 2015
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
I've read a couple of Tartt's books previously( Goldfinch/ little friend) and have always been impressed. In theory, the premise of this book is a very good one: a group of rich 'outsider' college kids do something terrible & have to face the consequences. This part I have no problem with. Each character has a strong, unique presence and a convincing, intricate, well rounded back story. However Tartt seems to be using this novel as a platform to showcase her extensive knowledge of ancient Greek & finds any excuse to shove it down the reader's throat! There seems to be no correlation between the story & the overly long passages pertaining to Greek (other than the student's are studying it at university). I found myself glazing over at these points & skipping forward to the point where the plot progresses. Normally I love a good thick book, but like I said in my heading, at least 200 pages of this particular novel are superfluous to requirements & quite simply just get in the way of a good story!
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146 of 163 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on 30 Mar. 2001
Format: Paperback
If I could take only one single book to the notorious island it would be The Secret History.
Originally I bought it only because a friend of mine had recommended it to me about a dozen times and kept asking me whether I had finally read it myself. Well. I was into 19th century classics at the time and really really really didn't feel like reading a novel by an unknown contemporary author. And an American one as well! So I bought and started reading it only to avoid further awkward quesions.
What can I say? I truly love books and have read hundreds. But none, literally NONE, ever made me feel the way The Secret History did and still does. It's the most fascinating and gripping book I've ever had the honour to read. The characters are fascinatingly mysterious; the plot the most interesting one I can think of; the setting great; and the language simply wonderful.
The bad thing about having read The Secret History (10 times? 11?) is that now I will always be longing for another one like it. The Secret History is THE book.
I know that other readers have experienced the same. Many of them keep asking about a new novel by Donna Tartt. I don't. I don't really want her to write another one, and I don't think she will. Every serious author wants their new novel to be just a little bit better than the last one. And let's face it: Donna Tartt will never achieve that because she's already written the perfect novel.
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