The Secret History

It’s funny how vividly this book comes back to me even though I read it over a month ago.  I’ve read that the book is generally blasted by critics, but readers seem to love it.  I do too.

The Secret History is about a young man who attends a very small, super elite college in Vermont, where he enters this strange, closed academic world of Ancient Greece.  This group of six students are so engrossed in their studies that they really only interact with each other, which only highlights all their faults – and being geniuses, their faults are magnified to a grotesque level.  It’s hard to explain what really happens in the novel.  A lot of it is really just the students escaping to a mansion in the country to drink and smoke all weekend.  But there’s also this mastery to Tartt’s writing that echoes the ancient Greek tragedies.  Some of the same elements are there – notably, the tragic hero and a quest for beauty.

It’s also pretty genius that Tartt starts the book with the knowledge that the students have murdered their friend, and we don’t find out why or how until well into the novel.  It’s still exciting and still pretty dreadful even though you know it’s coming!

A really, really great book.  Not to mention it makes me want to study Greek.

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