The Secret History, Donna Tartt (1992)
Themes: Mystery, Classics, Fiction
Reading Format: Paperback
You know those books that you have sat on your TBR for ages because someone recommended them a long time ago? This was one of those books. The thing about those reads is that you always wonder why you never picked them up sooner. So this is me, loving The Secret History.
Very simply, this book follows a group of rather elite college students who study ancient Greek. They want to achieve a different state of being by means of a Bacchian rite, but when they actually achieve their goals, things go a little wrong and change the course of their future. This is the main dramatic point of the book, but really this book is about the characters and how they deal with these events.
I think I gained some brain cells by just reading this book. It spoke a lot of classics and ancient Greek, some of which I understood, some of which I didn’t. But I liked the mystery and the intrigue surrounding the studies in this book. It has such a cosy feel to it, it was set around a university, in and out of each character’s home. I read this whilst in Rome and there were also a few nods to the city which made it even more exciting.
The blurb of this book doesn’t give much away to be honest, so I went into it rather blind and came out with a wowed feeling. The way the story is told paints a picture of events clearly for the reader. Each character is introduced an explained in a paragraph, which I really liked, it was easy to find out the key facts about them. Everyone was very different, I think Francis ended up being my favourite, he seemed to be the most honest and real. I like books with multiple key characters, it gives you a chance to see multiple perspectives and personas. I know a lot of the characters aren’t really meant to be likeable and it’s hit and miss with the mood they’re in. But I found them interesting to read about.
I feel like this book needs a reread with extensive notes to truly admire it in all its glory. But for now let’s just say I really did enjoy it!