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"The Secret History" by Donna Tartt

Is it any good? I have always heard about it and so many people are devoted to it. Is it hard to get into? Is it slow? Tell me about it. Thanks!

by Anonymousreply 4804/04/2014

I really didn't like it (and I have an MA in Classics!). The narrator's voice is inauthentic and bland and that's the kiss of death in a 1st person POV novel.

by Anonymousreply 110/13/2013

MA in English Literature, here. I enjoyed the book, but it's nothing too original and Tartt sounds endlessly impressed with her "cleverness."

by Anonymousreply 210/13/2013

It's one if my all-time favorites, and I re-read every few years. Her second book, The Little Friend, is good too. I read it for the second time last year and liked it even more.

I absolutely love her writing. I've preordered her 3rd, The Goldfinch--it comes out October 22nd.

by Anonymousreply 310/13/2013

Agree with R3. TSH has always been one of my favorites and the one book I recommend to friends that has been heartily appreciated by nearly all of them. I'm not an English major, but I read a lot.

I haven't reread in a long time, but I seem to remember the book as gripping from the start - not slow at all and engaging throughout.

Enjoy. I wish someone would recommend something this good to me right now - I'm in a reading rut.

by Anonymousreply 410/13/2013

I remember TSH and I liked it. Now you make me want to re-read it. It's been a while.

by Anonymousreply 510/13/2013

I really liked it, OP. But it made my teeth chatter.

by Anonymousreply 610/13/2013

I've just finished it last week. I did find it quite hard to get in to but I stuck with it and liked it in the end. Someone described it to me as an 'experience' rather than something to enjoy and I'd go along with that. I really found I had no empathy with any of the main characters - they were to a man deeply unlike able and I think that's why I found it a tough read.

by Anonymousreply 710/13/2013

I read this when it first came out, I was about 15 or so. I reread as an adult and it still holds up. Creepy, well written characters. I agree the narrator is a bit bland but he is supposed to be bland, his character is the ultimate bystander. This was supposed to have been made into a movie, and GOOP herself wanted to play Camilla, who is about 15 years younger.

by Anonymousreply 810/13/2013

I can't wait to read her new novel, "Gold finch"

by Anonymousreply 910/13/2013

I love that Brett eaton Ellis's "rules of attraction" is based on a similar premise, but has a very different take on these guys.

by Anonymousreply 1010/13/2013

I have been hoping to get around to reading this since it first came out and haven't gotten around to it. Maybe this thread will send me to the bookstore.

by Anonymousreply 1110/13/2013

It's dark, I liked how hopelessly bad all of the characters were

by Anonymousreply 1210/13/2013

It's my absolute ultimate Comfort Book. Whenever I feel down/depressed/sick 'The Secret History' is the one book I curl up with, along with my trusty old blankie. It works like Miracle

by Anonymousreply 1310/13/2013

Boy! You folks are giving good reviews. I think I will go pick it up at the library today.

by Anonymousreply 1410/13/2013

I loved it. Was living in England at the time, and someone handed the book to me, and I was totally engrossed from that moment till the book was done. Definitely give it a look.

by Anonymousreply 1510/13/2013

I loved it, it was long if I recall? Anyway definitely give it a go. A great fall read.

by Anonymousreply 1610/13/2013

I remember enjoying TSH, but her second, 'The Little Friend', was terrible - so slow and dull - I couldn't finish it.

by Anonymousreply 1710/13/2013

I read TSH after attending a college not unlike the one she describes, so I picked up the book expecting to love it -- but I didn't.

The beginning was gripping, where at one point the narrator says "I suppose at one point in my life I might have had any number of stories, but now there is no other. This is the only story I will ever be able to tell." Great intro!

But then... not one of the characters was real or emotionally involving, IMO. I would happily have suspended my disbelief at the story if I had been able to connect with any of the characters, but it just didn't work. Maybe a pre-collegiate teenager would like the book better, I don't know.

I am still surprised that TSH wasn't filmed soon after publication. It was a bestseller, and it could have been made into a pretty good movie in the hands of a competent production team. Plus, it would have been easy to cast -- every hot up-and-coming actor would have wanted one of the parts. I don't know why that didn't happen. It still could, I suppose, but the publicity from the book's original popularity has certainly dissipated.

by Anonymousreply 1810/13/2013

I liked it fine but didn't understand his dream at the end.

by Anonymousreply 1910/13/2013

Loved TSH and will be picking up 'The Goldfinch' when it's released.

by Anonymousreply 2010/13/2013

The Goldfinch is unbelievably long, but evidently worth it, to judge from early reviews.

As for the Secret History, I loved it as well, on first and second readings. Something quite similar (although not remotely as murderous)happened to me as a college classics major, so I guess I was attuned to the themes. It captures some truths about the modern world and its relationship to its historical roots. It was shocking, but well written and, on the whole, surprisingly plausible.

by Anonymousreply 2110/13/2013

I read it soon after attending a high school of arts, and even though my school wasn't for rich kids there still was a certain element of being special for getting in. Partly because of that I totally got into the spirit of the book, and understood the thrill of belonging to a secret club. BTW, in my country the book's name was translated to 'Gods party at nights' which says a lot about the atmosphere of the book.

Guess I should read it again, since I've only read it once long time ago. It's certainly not a perfect novel, and the people in it weren't the most likable, but it was a fun read.

by Anonymousreply 2210/13/2013

I read it years ago when I was stuck in my house because of heavy snow. (This was in Alabama!) Good book.

by Anonymousreply 2310/13/2013

Same with me, r22. I totally relate

by Anonymousreply 2410/13/2013

I thought The Little Friend was almost as good, especially reading it the second time. Maybe because it reminded me so much of To Kill a Mockingbird and the work of Flannery O'Connor.

Donna Tartt is just so freaking cool and mysterious. She has rarely given interviews and I read some rumor somewhere that she lives on a private island with her much younger lover.

I probably like her because she achieved the dream I had in high school--escaping Mississippi to go to Bennigton College. That was my obsession when I read The Rules of Attraction in high school--I thought that fucked up, omnisexual world sounded great!

by Anonymousreply 2510/13/2013


by Anonymousreply 2610/13/2013

R19, the dream meant that basically everyone is still miserable- Henry, wherever he was, and Richard in life. The saddest end was Francis having to marry the annoying girl rather than be with a man.

by Anonymousreply 2710/13/2013

it's good but highly overrated

by Anonymousreply 2810/13/2013

I loved TSH, though the first half is better than the second. I read somewhere that Goop had bought the rights and wanted to play one of the twins.

by Anonymousreply 2910/13/2013

I thought it was underwhelming and overly contrived - when she finally played her hand she wasn't really holding anything. Not a single image or event from it stays with me except a vague remembrance of literary overreach.

by Anonymousreply 3010/13/2013

I'm so glad someone here mentioned her second novel, 'TheLittle Friend' as 'terrible'. I was DEVASTATED by what a Let-DOWN it was and felt bereft and unconsolable for days...

by Anonymousreply 3110/13/2013

Perhaps I should add that I was, like the main protagonist Richard Papen in TSH, an impoverished full scholarship student at an Ivy League surrounded by rich and privileged kids, so I could definitely identify with the sense of inferiority and of being an outsider that Richard harbors throughout the novel. I thought she captured that sense of alienation and defensiveness really well.

by Anonymousreply 3210/13/2013

And does anyone get the sense that Donna might be a lesbian? I don't know anything about her personal life, so my hunch is entirely based on reading TSH and sensing the vibes from the writing so to speak...

by Anonymousreply 3310/13/2013

R32 - Richard was a stand-in for Donna, the outsider, herself.

by Anonymousreply 3410/13/2013

Let the games begin. I am just back from the library with my copy of TSH. It appears to be a bit of a project.

by Anonymousreply 3510/14/2013


by Anonymousreply 3610/14/2013

R35 - If you have a reasonably good vocabulary, it's a fairly fast read.

by Anonymousreply 3710/14/2013

So have people started reading The Goldfinch yet? I'm about to pick up a copy and delve into it. The reviews so far seem pretty positive.

by Anonymousreply 3810/20/2013


There is a gay scene in the book!

by Anonymousreply 3910/20/2013

She sounds a bit insufferable. Wonder how much money she made from The Secret History and what she's lived on all these years.

iirc Winona Ryder was originally supposed to play Camilla in the movie version.

by Anonymousreply 4010/20/2013

Winona would be wrong for Camille.

by Anonymousreply 4110/20/2013

I taught to smart undergrads in a class on myth. their response was "Yeah, yeah, we get it. an we move on?"

by Anonymousreply 4210/20/2013

You taught what?

by Anonymousreply 4310/20/2013

After years of wanting to read this I finally finished it last night. It was so talked about when it was released I was expecting great things but I didn't find them in this book. It was just okay. I will start the Goldfinch today.

by Anonymousreply 4404/04/2014

She attended Ole Miss before transferring to Bennington, and believe it or not, she was a sorority girl. The Kappa house had something called the "Sunshine Box," like a suggestion box in which you were supposed to deposit happy thoughts you had written on scraps of paper; she contributed Sartre's quote "Hell is other people."

by Anonymousreply 4504/04/2014

I just deleted The Goldfinch from my phone. Taking up too much memory.

by Anonymousreply 4604/04/2014

R45 - Then she met BEE.

by Anonymousreply 4704/04/2014

It's a lot better than the wildly overpraised The Goldfinch.

by Anonymousreply 4804/04/2014
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