Most helpful positive review
8 of 8 people found the following review helpful
Never mind the plot, admire the writing
on 11 March 2015
I very much enjoyed 'The Secret History', I have a copy of 'The Little Friend' which I really must read (!) but have read 'The Goldfinch'. I was interested to read other reviews because I had mixed feelings about this one. It is a very long book, but that doesn't matter because for my Donna Tartt will always be about the writing and not about the plot. The plot is as it is, it is interesting enough, one doesn't really care about any of the characters; the only character Tartt makes us care about is a pet dog. None of the characters are particularly likeable. There are a couple of characters who are a bit one-dimensional, but in general the plot rolls along and is enjoyable.
What I am always astonished by in Donna Tartt's writing itself. The beginning of the book is quite incredible. The aftermath of an explosion, which comes as a complete surprise (you know something is going to happen, Tartt takes you this way and that anticipating it but it still comes as a surprise) is stupendous. Tartt has a wonderful way of writing about confusion, shock, and high adrenaline stuff - like in 'The Secret History' where the character runs through the night - and takes us brilliantly into the mind of the main character at that point. After this, there is a long section where the character is living in Las Vegas, where nothing happens, there is just desert, sand, and constant sunshine beating down day after day. Many reviews have complained about the length of this section but for me it was the best part of the book, as the endless narrative and the nothingness of the activity just captured the mood of this part of the novel; it was fantastically languid. For me this felt like a narrative device rather than Tartt trying to fill pages. The book moves on well, but towards the end we get a bit of a diatribe on the nature of life, art, the universe and everything, which I could have done without.