ememily, August 4, 2012 (view all comments by ememily)
The Secret History is wonderful in so many ways. I'm pretty picky when it comes to novels, and I also rarely read a book more than once. But this one is magical in some way. It's a lengthy book, but it's completely engaging the whole way through. I've read it several times, and know I'll read it again. Every person I know that has read it has loved it too. It's hard to describe what's so perfect about it, but it has characters that draw you in, a mysterious plot, and it's written beautifully. It's definitely a book you want to savor, but can't stop reading until you've reached the end.
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Rebekah, March 10, 2007 (view all comments by Rebekah)
I stayed up all night reading this book! "The Secret History" is one of those novels you want to race through because the author has built up such a strong sense of anticipation, but you also want to read v-e-r-y s-l-o-w-ly so that you can savor every part. Tartt explores the human fascination with violence and escapism in intellectual prose that both tantalizes and shocks. This is an indulgent yet edifying read from which you might even learn a thing or two about classical literature and philosophy.
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Eleanor, September 4, 2006 (view all comments by Eleanor)
This will always be on my list of "top 10 favorite books of all time." Tartt's prose is absolutely lyrical, even when covering the most banal aspects of student life. The story is also amazingly plausible, given the cast of characters, and the circumstances in which they find themselves. Highly recommended.
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by The New York Times,
"Powerful....Enthrallling....A ferociously well-paced entertainment."
"A smart, craftsman-like, viscerally compelling novel."
by Publishers Weekly,
"Entertaining, evocative first novel."
by Andrew Rosenheim, The New York Times Book Review,
"[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."
by Library Journal,
"[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."
by The New Republic,
"[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."
by Houston Chronicle,
"One of the best American college novels to come along since John Knowles's A Seperate Peace....Immensely entertaining."
"A great, dense, disturbing story, wonderfully told."
by The Miami Herald,
"Donna Tartt is clearly a gifted writer....She has the ability to leave her literary contemporaries standing in the road."
by The Village Voice,
"An accomplished psychological thriller....Absolutely chilling....Tartt has a stunning command of the lyrical."
by New York Newsday,
"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."
by The Boston Globe,
"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."
"Beautifully written, suspenseful from start to finish."
by Jay McInerney,
"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."
"Donna Tartt has a real shot at becoming her generation's Edgar Allan Poe....The Secret History pulses like a telltale heart on steroids."
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.
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