Top positive review
So I began to read in the hopes that this novel would deal with things that I could resonate with and I wasn’t disappointed. This novel refers to the ways of the ...
Reviewed in India on 14 November 2017
When I first heard that this book is about students of the Classics, I myself being a student of English Literature, felt that I simply HAD to read it. So I began to read in the hopes that this novel would deal with things that I could resonate with and I wasn’t disappointed. This novel refers to the ways of the Greeks, the mythologies, religious beliefs, and histories. In doing so, the writing has an intellectual edge and I’m pleased to say I got what I wanted out of this book. But there’s so much going on in this book. There’s mystery, suspense, and quite a bit of thrill. Did I mention it gets pretty dark in places? After I was done reading this (I finished at the stroke of midnight) and I actually looked around a few times checking for ghosts in my dark room.
The first few pages painted a picture similar to the one I had witnessed in the film “Dead Poet’s Society.” A movie starring the loveable Robin Williams who plays the role of a lecturer of poetry. I absolutely LOVED this film. But this book was quite different and has its own uniqueness.
Here are a group of highly intellectual students cordoned off to spend a majority of their time taking classes from an erudite teacher. But underneath this seemingly normal facade, lurks disaster. What could possibly happen to this lot in order to plummet all of them into a dark abyss?
For the sensitive reader out there, here’s something to be aware of: This novel touches upon twincest, drugs, and cold-blooded murder.
I was surprised how the events in the novel made me respond on an emotional level. I felt for the characters, took pity on them and their state of helplessness. At times, I was gripped with fear for them while in other times, I was puzzled by the level of distance that the narrator Richard, seemed to have in the telling of the narrative.The subject matter of this novel really won me over. I have in the past, encountered groups of peers with an extreme passion for a subject. I have also witnessed the obsessiveness with which some scholarly and stoic individuals attempt to tackle the problems in their lives. The attempt to immerse oneself into the subject one has chosen to specialize in. This is exactly what the characters of The Secret History do. For instance, Henry and the twins, Charles and Camilla, really manage to live, breathe, and sleep Greek-The subject they are majoring in.
It makes clear that the distinction between intellectuality and sheer barbarism is but a thin line.
This novel provides us with a moral dilemma. It makes us question the correctness of some people’s actions/decisions. For instance, I was truly shocked at Julian’s and Henry’s level of eccentricity, their unconventional way of responding to situations they are faced with.
I felt that this novel could have been much more if Tartt had given us more background for the narrator, Richard. In the end, I felt like I didn’t know this character any more than I did at the start of the novel. I also hoped there was more information on the time period in which “The Secret History” takes place. I’m aware that this novel was set around 25 years ago but I found it difficult to place it within a particular time frame. Although from what I was able to gather, it is probably set in the period just after the Vietnam War.
What really appealed to me about this story was Tartt’s writing. Even though it is at times possible to predict what happens next in the plot, the process or manner in which her writing unravels this event is truly remarkable. This book had me sitting on the edge of my seat from the very beginning. Tartt’s writing is absorbing and expects a level of involvement on part of the reader. With every turn of the page, this novel simply draws you in. Tartt's has this manner of dropping hints about upcoming events and you know it’s going to happen soon, but you can do nothing as a reader except read on to find out what unfolds.
The characters are all well rounded and created with utmost care. Tartt’s decision to center the plot around seven main characters is an ambitious one, but she achieves this with flawlessness and ease.
The manner in which Tartt chooses to leave some events to the reader’s imagination in the course of this novel is what struck me as utterly brilliant. She only hints at them, leaving the rest up to the reader.
Tartt’s novel succeeds in its ability to absolutely dumbfound the reader, leave them speechless. The Secret History left me feeling only partially satiated. Nevertheless, I fell in love with it. This is the sort of book that must be read and re-read. But for now, I’m now looking forward to reading Tartt’s other works, The Little Friend, and The Goldfinch.