The Secret History

Author(s): Donna Tartt

Staff Picks- Read our reviews below

FROM THE PULITZER PRIZE-WINNING AUTHOR OF THE GOLDFINCH Truly deserving of the accolade Modern Classic, Donna Tartt's bestseller The Secret History is a remarkable achievement ­­- both compelling and elegant, dramatic and playful. ­­­­­­­______________________________________ 'What we did was terrible, but still I don't think any of us were bad, exactly; chalk it up to weakness on my part, hubris on Henry's, too much Greek prose composition - whatever you like.' Under the influence of their charismatic classics professor, a group of clever, eccentric misfits at an elite New England college discover a way of thinking and living that is a world away from the humdrum existence of their contemporaries. But when they go beyond the boundaries of morality, their lives are changed profoundly and for ever. The Secret History is a story of two parts; the chain of events that led to the death of a classmate - and what happened next. ______________________________________ 'So irresistible and seductive it's almost a guilty pleasure' Guardian 'Donna Tartt is an amazingly good writer. She's dense, she's allusive. She's a gorgeous storyteller' Stephen King 'A haunting, compelling, and brilliant piece of fiction . . . Packed with literary allusion and told with a sophistication and texture' The Times

No wonder The Secret History is touted a modern classicDonna Tartt is an artful, insightful author and her novel is compelling to the very end, leaving a marked imprint upon the reader. 

I finished the book with a deep yearning and sense of nostalgia for where it all began - a place of hopeful beginnings, happier and simpler times, and friendships as yet untarnished. The narrator of the story is Richard Papen, who escapes his dreary suburban existence with dysfunctional parents to attend Hampden College in New England, which beckons alluringly with glorious countryside and old fashioned grandeur. 

Richard wishes to continue his study of Ancient Greek but finds the class to be closed and elitist, a world of its own. The Greek students appear to him through a rose tinted lens - the twins, Charles and Camilla, the aloof but brilliant Henry, the obnoxious, effervescent Bunny and Francis.

Richard is thrilled to finally be admitted into their class, headed by the enigmatic professor Julian, and then eventually welcomed into their tight knit circle of friendship. 
The novel starts with a prologue around Bunny's murder. The story describes the how and why through the events leading up to the murder. When a Bacchanal ritual spirals out of control, the tension rapidly mounts between friends. What follows will haunt them all for the rest of their lives. 

An utterly gripping and poignant read. Jemma


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Runner-up for The BBC Big Read Top 100 2003.


"It takes my breath away". --Ruth Rendell

"Enthralling ...image the plot of Dostoyevsky's Crime and Punishment crossed with the story of Euripides' Bacchae set against the backdrop of Bret Easton Ellis' The Rules of Attraction...forceful, cerebral and impeccably controlled...ferociously well-paced...remarkably powerful". --The New York Times

Donna Tartt was born in Greenwood, Mississippi, and educated at the University of Mississippi and Bennington College. She is a novelist, essayist, and critic. THE SECRET HISTORY has been translated into twenty-four languages.

General Fields

  • : 9780140167771
  • : Penguin Books, Limited
  • : Penguin Books, Limited
  • : 0.44
  • : December 1992
  • : 198mm X 129mm X 26mm
  • : United Kingdom
  • : books

Special Fields

  • : Donna Tartt
  • : Paperback
  • : English
  • : 813/.54
  • : very good
  • : 629