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The Secret History Paperback – 1 Jul 1993

4.1 out of 5 stars 703 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 (703 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 262 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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)

Book Description

The phenomenal bestseller that has become a contemporary classic, now available for the first time in ebook in the UK. Under the influence of their professor, a group of clever students at an elite New England college find their lives changed for ever.

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Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

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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Format: Paperback
Richard Papen is a scholarship student at a University in Vermont. There, he meets a group of students of Greek, by whom he is fascinated, and finds himself slowly drawn into their circle. Their leader, Henry, is a brilliant but brooding and distant character, and in their otherworldly existence where the romance and mystique of ancient Greece mingle with the rarified and privileged life at college, the group find themselves party to manslaughter, and then murder.

The book is a study in psychological horror, as the inevitable events flow like a Greek tragedy of their own. We are brought face-to-face with psychopathic behaviour, obesession, addiction, paranoia and deep dark fear, and are forced to ask ourselves the question: how would we respond? What would we do?

The book has an excellent pace, and is beautifully balanced and structured, with suspense and mystery at every turn. It's one that you want to keep reading, and is truly a pleasure. The writing is excellent and the classical references are thrown in with apparent authenticity and without condescension, in just the right measure. At the same time, there is an underlying, very dark humour, that perfectly offsets the pathos that would otherwise be almost unbearable.

This first rate work deserves the highest commendation. Read it.
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By A Customer on 2 May 2001
Format: Paperback
The Secret History is in some ways unclassifiable ... it is a murder mystery, but you know who did it ... it is a remake of Dostoyevsky's Crime and Punishment, and yet completely different ... it is a novel about college students, but unlike any other you have read. A group of students of classical Greek at an elite college in Vermont spend way too much time together, and this is the chilling outcome.
I have owned eight copies of this book. Anyone I loan it to either keeps it or passes it on to someone who does! And I have re-read it over a dozen times, just to feel again the inexorable passage through the plot, the feeling of inevitability about it all, and the edge-of-your-seat suspense which permeates the whole novel.
I hear Ms Tartt has just completed her second novel, nine years after this one was released. It has a lot to live up to. If you have never read The Secret History, do so right now, before someone makes a terrible movie out of it!
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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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Format: Paperback
I found myself trying to sell the story of The Secret History to a friend of mine in an effort to get him to read it. It went something like this.

ME: Its reeeeeeeally good. Its about this close knit group of college kids who do something really shocking and then do something more shocking to cover the first thing up!

FRIEND: And......?

ME: Um....... that's about it really.

I resorted to reading the cover notes to him and they weren't much better. Y'see, there are only a few shocking moments within the book but they are essential building blocks for later parts of the novel. To tell you, nay even hint as to what the shocking moments are would ruin vast swathes of this novel for you, and shame shame shame shame on other reviewers on these pages for doing so. SHAME!

This novel is beautiful and claustrophobic. Donna Tartt's writing style elegantly and effortlessly guides you through this bizarre world of academia. Her characters are fully rounded and complete and, as you expect from any good novel, you find yourself totally believing in them.

Underneath the subtle cover, bland title and nondescript blurb on the back is a doozer of a story. I recommend this title to anyone.
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