Review: The Secret History

(I read this book over the summer and I still think about it a lot, so I felt that it was important enough to do a review up here. )

Novel by Donna Tart

8/10

Short: An intense group of students at an elite university studying the Classics get involved in some really sketchy business involving Greek rituals, murder, insanity and malicious plotting.

Long: Richard Papen has lived a hum-drum life surrounded by people he could never really connect with, including his own family. He decides to attend Hampden College in Vermont, a small and prestigious school. When he’s there, Richard meets a mysterious professor named Julian Morrow, who allows him to join his selective Ancient Greek class. His classmates consist of four other boys and a girl. All of these students are distinctly intelligent, bizarre, flawed, melodramatic, and also extremely privileged. Their group dynamics are interesting and highly complex and Richard figures this out very quickly and most of the novel are his observations about their relationship and how he ended up fitting in with them.

The novel consists of a lot of foreshadowing right from the very beginning, but the action really picks up near the end of the middle of the book. Without revealing too much, let’s just say that some extremely dark and twisted stuff  happens, a few of the characters plunge into utter insanity and relationships are destroyed forever. I ended this novel feeling tired and overwhelmed… but also deeply impressed by the finesse with which Tart told this story. She makes extremely ridiculous events, people, and situations seem entirely plausible.

This is essentially a story about the complexity of the human condition. If that’s what you’re looking for, read it. It will not disappoint.

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