The Secret History

The Secret HistoryThe Secret History by Donna Tartt
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I loved this novel, and I’m sorry I waited as long as I did to read it! It’s hard for me to put into words the deep familiarity I felt with Tartt’s setting and characters. Though the novel takes place in a fictional small, Northeastern liberal arts college (a thinly veiled version of Bennington) so much of it reminded me of my own alma mater, Sarah Lawrence College, that I found myself struck by the universality of experience that seems to be shared by all small, Northeastern liberal arts colleges. Every drum circle, every performance art piece, every empty paint can passed around the cafeteria to collect funds for a party, every drugged out co-ed sniffing coke off a dorm desk, and every student desperate to convince others they come from a background wealthier (or sometimes not as wealthy) than they actually did was instantly recognizable to me.

Tartt wisely takes the time to etch her characters indelibly into the reader’s mind through their interactions, until you very nearly loses track of the fact that these are terrible, terrible people. And yet, on some level you want them to get away with their crimes and feel a sense of nervous suspense when the trail of clues leads too closely back to them. Speaking of, the inclusion of an unusually strong plot for a college-based literary novel is another thing I loved about it. I’m tempted to call THE SECRET HISTORY a crime novel in disguise, one worthy of comparison to some of the best works of Donald E. Westlake, but that feels reductive. THE SECRET HISTORY is more than the sum of its parts. Brilliantly written, precisely executed, and a surprisingly fast, engrossing read for a novel of its length and density, I urge anyone interested in reading it to pick it up. Don’t wait like I did. This is a novel you’ll likely want to talk about for years to come — and if you happened to attend a small, Northeastern liberal arts college, it’s a novel that will likely hold up an uncomfortable (and at times nostalgic) mirror to your own experiences.

View all my reviews

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

 

 

News & Updates

  • 07/18/2018 — Brand New Blurb for 100 FATHOMS BELOW!Check out this awesome new blurb for 100 Fathoms Below! “Full of claustrophobic horror, Cold War submarine warfare, and hardcore evil, 100 Fathoms Below creates a powerful sense of place and a tension that festers in your gut throughout.…Read more »
  • 07/17/2018 — My Necon 38 ScheduleNecon 38 is coming up this weekend! Necon is my favorite annual convention.…Read more »
  • 07/17/2018 — Mine!Mine!: A Comics Collection to Benefit Planned Parenthood by Molly Jackson My rating: 5 of 5 stars A great collection of short comics in support of a great cause!…Read more »
  • 07/07/2018 — The TerrorThe Terror by Dan Simmons My rating: 5 of 5 stars A masterpiece of historical fiction and supernatural horror, Dan Simmons’s THE TERROR is a novel that requires your patience.…Read more »
  • 06/26/2018 — My Readercon 29 ScheduleReadercon 29 is just a few weeks away! I have received my programming schedule, so here’s where you can find me over the course of the convention: Friday, July 13th (yikes!) Kaffeeklatsch, 11:00 AM, Seven Masts Come join me for some morning coffee and a lively discussion about my books, the writing class I will be teaching for LitReactor in the fall, lessons from my career, and the usual selection of bad jokes!…Read more »

Search