Title: The Secret History
Author: Donna Tartt
Rating: 2.5/5 stars
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 normal morality their lives are changed profoundly and for ever.
I’m so disappointed… The premise was very good, the characters had such promise, yet I was bored reading two thirds of this book. I love Dead Poets Society and Bret Easton Ellis’ Less Than Zero as well, so I thought I’ll have a great time going through The Secret History.
The beginning was pretty engaging and after ten pages I felt sure this would be a five-star novel. And then when they murdered Bunny in the middle (don’t worry, it’s not a spoiler), suddenly everything changed. There was tension first, yes; will they get away with it, will any of them snap, but as I got further and further in the book the nervous anticipation slowly disappeared – I started to doubt anything would happen in this novel that would move the plot on and at some point I ceased to understand the characters’ feelings towards a certain member of the group. He was clearly a psychopath and he ended up being admired and overly romanticized, which struck me as odd. Also, I think Julian, would have been a lot more interesting if he’d been a bit darker, if he had been more deeply involved in the happenings.
Overall, I’d say the protagonists weren’t exploited enough despite the fact that the novel was supposed to be character-driven – at least that’s what I felt – and so, with the lack of action, it ended up dull for me.
The thing that saved The Secret History in my opinion was the writing that is undeniably beautiful and intelligent, it made me read on until I reached the last page.
Maybe my expectations were too high, maybe I should give the Goldfinch a go… I don’t know, but right now I’m inconsolable, because I wanted to love this book so much.