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July 15, 2013

65 Book Challenge - Book Four Review: "The Secret History" by Donna Tartt

secret history   Having finished book four of my 65 Book Challenge, I must admit that things seem to be looking up! The Secret History by Donna Tartt was a book that I couldn’t help but love, love, love. The five stars I’ve given it on Goodreads is, of course, the perfect indication of my euphoria. I haven’t read a book that I find difficult to put down in a freakishly long time – so perhaps I derived more satisfaction from The Secret History being exactly that type of book because a novel like this has been long overdue for me. The first thing to love about Tartt’s book is her style of writing. Brilliant and original, it comes from the first person point of view of a character named Richard. Much of the novel I found slightly reminiscent of Nick Carraway’s narration in The Great Gatsby – that observing persona who is at times both a detached yet participating party;  the slight outcast whom everyone appreciates precisely because he can never fully understand why they live the way they do. In The Secret History, this was exactly the role the narrator, Richard, played in everyone’s lives. His perspective was insightful as well as exciting, and realistic in its ability to remind me of how easy it is to misinterpret people’s intentions because, quite simply, one never knows what anyone else is truly thinking. All of the characters were too multi-faceted to simply fit into the categories of ‘a friend of Richard’ or ‘not a friend of Richard’. Undoubtedly, Tartt’s novel will cause the reader to consider in how many ways one can be considered both a great friend and an ultimate enemy. Perhaps even more excellent, is Donna Tartt’s use of climatic moments. As you read through The Secret History, you will soon discover that a vividly climatic moment does not necessarily mark the end of the narrative. A less able writer than Tartt would have perhaps (against his or her will) allowed for the continuation of the story following such a climax to lag, but this is not so for Donna Tartt. With ease and confidence, she continued to manipulate her characters in such a way that enraptured me as a reader. Not only were the psychological developments of each character fascinating, but so were the smaller off shooting dramas that developed as a direct result of the first shocking occurrence. And if you think you know the characters well from the first 50% of the The Secret History, you are wrong. Tartt develops new and surprising facets to each one up until the very last page. To me, this gave the characters more substance and made them so real and tangible to me that I was reluctant to turn that final page and close the book on them. All in all, I am happiest with The Secret History versus the other three I’ve read so far. I’d love to hear your thoughts on it. Do you agree or disagree with my above comments? What were your favorite parts of this book? Be sure to read along with me on the next one on my 65 Book Challenge: The Rachel Papers by Martin Amis. :)