The Secret History – Donna Tartt


Source: Amazon


To the next person who reads this book:

Set on an American college campus, this novel is about the lead up to, and aftermath of committing murder. Tartt focuses on the moral question of planning to kill someone and then going through with it. More than that, this novel explores the darker side of deciding to kill someone who is a friend.

Richard is something of an unreliable narrator – he is a compulsive liar. Driven by the desire to escape the dreary, suburban life of his childhood home, Richard enrolls at New England College because he likes the picture on the brochure.

There, he meets five very clever students who take small classes with a professor who calls what they are doing play rather than work. Studying Greek classics, they exist in a world of their own, ideologically separate from the ‘real’ or current world the novel is set in.

Henry is a genius. There is a lovely depth to Camilla’s character, she is intelligent, but not without a kind ‘softness’. Bunny is a ‘good sport’ often loud and rude, though not unlikable. Charles is somewhat unpredictable but open, and kind. Francis is rich and irritable at times.

These characters do not listen to the news, nor do they watch TV, they are almost completely out of touch with current events, and modernity.

They are described, by others, as occult-like and near frightening. This adds further to the mystery of their lives.

I still have questions about the motives of these characters, and I have read it a countless amount of times.

I ask myself why I care so much about these characters, when they are killers. But this is the point of the book: it asks us a moral question about murder.

Brilliant and completely immersive, I was absorbed from the starting point:

Does such a thing as “the fatal flaw,” that showy dark crack running down the middle of a life, exist outside of literature? I used to think it didn’t. Now I think it does. And I think that mine is this: a morbid longing for the picturesque at all costs.





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