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The Secret History Hardcover – 1 Apr 1994

4.1 out of 5 stars 705 customer reviews

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Hardcover, 1 Apr 1994
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Product details

  • Hardcover
  • Publisher: Haynes Publications (1 April 1994)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0517116588
  • ISBN-13: 978-0517116586
  • Product Dimensions: 23.2 x 16.7 x 2.8 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (705 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 5,373,466 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) --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From the Inside Flap

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 thinking and living that is a world away from the humdrum existence of their contemporaries. But when they go beyond the boundaries of normal morality their lives are changed profoundly and forever, and they discover how hard it can be to truly live and how easy it is to kill. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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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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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: 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.
3 Comments 92 people found this helpful. Was this review helpful to you? Yes No Sending feedback...
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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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Format: Paperback
This is a very entertaining story of a group of "haves" and a young man who is clearly a "have not". He is seduced by the idea of being in this new group, and his desperation to be part of them leads him to be complicit in a secret that will eventually destroy them.

This could so easily be a murder/mystery novel but it's much, much more than that. The characters, although one dimensional at times, work well as a collective and the main character is sympathetic and believable.

There is something about the way this is written though, that I just can't put my finger on. Almost like the author is patting herself on the back for being so intelligent and encorporating so much greek into her novel. Still, I have read this several times and will read it again.

I also suggest Continuum Contemporaries series: Donna Tartt's "The Secret History": A Reader's Guide for those that want to delve deeper.
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