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The Secret Historyby Donna Tartt
A New York Times Notable Book
Synopses & Reviews
Richard Papen arrived at Hampden College in New England and was quickly seduced by an elite group of five students, all Greek scholars, all worldly, self-assured, and, at first glance, all highly unapproachable. As Richard is drawn into their inner circle, he learns a terrifying secret that binds them to one another...a secret about an incident in the woods in the dead of night where an ancient rite was brought to brutal life...and led to a gruesome death. And that was just the beginning....
"Powerful....Enthrallling....A ferociously well-paced entertainment." The New York Times
"A smart, craftsman-like, viscerally compelling novel." Time
"Entertaining, evocative first novel." Publishers Weekly
"[A] work of occasionally irritating pretension that is mostly redeemed by its simple virtue as a gripping read....Where it parts company with even the best of its campus colleagues is in the clever evolution of its first-person telling, its many magnificent pages of description and its refusal to let the parochial environs of its setting limit the exploration of its characters." Andrew Rosenheim, The New York Times Book Review
"[W]ell-written....The book's many allusions, both literary and classical...fail to provide the deeper resonance of such works as Umberto Eco's The Name of the Rose. Ultimately, it works best as a psychological thriller." Library Journal
"[A]n elaborately conceived and artistically ambitious thriller....Tartt records the aftereffects of unpunished crime with great skill. But her efforts to transform a chronicle of suspense into a study in sensibility are less successful....Tartt offers the aroma of decadence, not its anatomy; stylish intimations of misbehavior, not visions of hell." The New Republic
"One of the best American college novels to come along since John Knowles's A Seperate Peace....Immensely entertaining." Houston Chronicle
"A great, dense, disturbing story, wonderfully told." Cosmopolitan
"Donna Tartt is clearly a gifted writer....She has the ability to leave her literary contemporaries standing in the road." The Miami Herald
"An accomplished psychological thriller....Absolutely chilling....Tartt has a stunning command of the lyrical." The Village Voice
"A thinking-person's thriller....Think Lord of the Flies, then The Rules of Attraction....The Secret History combines a bit of both — the unmistakable whiff of evil from William Golding's classic and the mad recklessness of priviledged youth from Bret Easton Ellis's novel of the '80s....As stony and chilling as any Greek tragedian ever plumbed." New York Newsday
"Tartt's voice is unlike that of any of her contemporaries. Her beautiful language, intricate plotting, fascinating characters, and intellectual energy make her debut by far the most interesting work yet from her generation." The Boston Globe
"Beautifully written, suspenseful from start to finish." Vogue
"The Secret History implicates the reader in a conspiracy which begins in bucolic enchantment and ends exactly where it must — though a less gifted or fearless writer would never have been able to imagine such a rich skein of consequence. Donna Tartt has written a mesmerizing and powerful novel." Jay McInerney
"Donna Tartt has a real shot at becoming her generation's Edgar Allan Poe....The Secret History pulses like a telltale heart on steroids." Glamour
Truly deserving of the accolade a modern classic, Donna Tartt's novel is a remarkable achievement — both compelling and elegant, dramatic and playful.
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 forever, and they discover how hard it can be to truly live and how easy it is to kill.
In this debut novel a budding teenage journalist at an elite prep school and her enigmatic science teacher each separately attempt to track down a secret society that may hold damning evidence about a shadowy tragedy in the school's—and the teacher's—past.
“Do you know what it took for Socrates enemies to make him stop pursuing the truth?”
Storied, fiercely competitive Mariana Academy was founded with a serious honor code; its reputation has been unsullied for decades. Now a long-dormant secret society, Prisom's Party, threatens its placid halls with vigilante justice, exposing students and teachers alike for even the most minor infraction.
Iris Dupont, a budding journalist whose only confidant is the chain-smoking specter of Edward R. Murrow, feels sure she can break into the ranks of The Devils Advocate, the Partys underground newspaper, and there uncover the source of its blackmail schemes and vilifying rumors. Some involve the schools new science teacher, who also seems to be investigating the Party. Others point to an albino student who left school abruptly ten years before, never to return. And everything connects to a rare book called Marvelous Species. But the truth comes with its own dangers, and Iris is torn between her allegiances, her reporter's instinct, and her own troubled past.
The Year of the Gadfly is an exhilarating journey of double-crosses, deeply buried secrets, and the lifelong reverberations of losing someone you love. Following in the tradition of classic school novels such as A Separate Peace, Prep, and The Secret History, it reminds us how these years haunt our lives forever.
About the Author
Donna Tartt is a novelist, essayist, and critic. The Secret History has been translated into twenty-four languages and is available in hardcover from Knopf.
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