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The Secret History
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March 2016: Mystery Thriller > The Secret History Discussion -- LIMITED SPOILERS

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message 1: by Nicole R (last edited Mar 04, 2016 07:11AM) (new) - rated it 3 stars

Nicole R (drnicoler) | 7644 comments PBT does not officially have a group read each month, and there is certainly no pressure for members to start now! However, quite a few people expressed an interest in reading The Secret History -- myself included -- and I thought it might be fun to discuss as we go along.

So, here is the deal to avoid spoilers---

A rough reading timeline will be:
End of chapter three -- March 10th
End of chapter five/book one -- March 17th
End of chapter seven -- March 24th
End of book -- March 30th

You can obviously read at your own pace, but please follow the limited spoilers timeline:

Spoilers through chapter three allowed until March 10th
Spoilers through chapter five/end of book one until March 17th
Spoilers through chapter seven allowed until March 24th
Spoilers through end of the book allowed after 24th!

This is the first moderated read (? Is that a better word that group read?) that I have done so let me know if that schedule doesn't seem reasonable (keeping in mind that we have to finish it this month!).

Now, I am off to start reading....


Ellen | 2053 comments I'm in!


message 3: by Susie (new) - added it

Susie | 4488 comments I'm in! Thanks Nicole.


Nicole R (drnicoler) | 7644 comments Great!!! I am excited to dive in!


Tien (tiensblurb) | 713 comments ooh ooh ooh... I meant to do this buddy read with another friend later on this month but she's 4th in queue for the library :(

Who knows when she'll actually get the book!? Um, I might see if I can join you guys instead :p


Nicole R (drnicoler) | 7644 comments And I should have mentioned that you can jump in at any time. If you want to read the whole thing before discussing at the end of the month, that is totally fine!

Or if you want to check in more often then we would love to hear from you.

Also, if you have read it previously we welcome your comments! Just follow the spoiler guidelines.


Tien (tiensblurb) | 713 comments oh and just a note, you could do this:

(view spoiler)

by following below instruction (remove underscores)

<_spoiler_>_text_<_/_spoiler_>


Nicole R (drnicoler) | 7644 comments Yes, there is definitely the spoiler free code, but if several people are going to be discussing it, I would prefer we just make an attempt to stay with the schedule and just acknowledge there are spoilers up to a certain point.

Maybe I should change the title of the thread to be less misleading...


Ladyslott | 1880 comments I've read it, I will be following the discussion.


annapi | 4865 comments I guess I jumped the gun, I am already 18% into it at page 115...


Nicole R (drnicoler) | 7644 comments Annapi, you can read at whatever pace you like, just limit your spoilers to the schedule above.


annapi | 4865 comments Finished the book today. Will be interesting to see the discussion. It's not an easy one to review.


Nicole R (drnicoler) | 7644 comments Okay, I made it through chapter three and have a few early observations/questions:

1. Does anyone have strange deja vu of The Magicians by Lev Grossman? Small group of kids who think they are gifted and special who are in a secret and elite college group that spend a lot of time drinking and waxing philosophic? I did not like The Magicians so it does not bode well. Luckily, there is a dash of How To Get Away With Murder that eases the pain (see below).

2. It took about 50 pages or so for me to get into. There was one long scene discussion some obscure Greek/Latin gods/literature/mythology (I think) that was pointless. Once I got through it though then things picked up.

3. I admit I am intrigued. The author already admits that Bunny dies and obviously something went down between he and Henry in Italy that has yet to be revealed.

4. Bunny is barely tolerable, I oddly like Henry, I often forget who Francis is, the twins are backdrop, and Richard is an idiot for living at the hippie artists place over the winter and not realizing it was horrible. Julian, the teacher, is in it less than I expected but I feel like this skill he has of persuading people will come back into play.

My theory at this point: the five students (minus Richard) killed someone and now Bunny is threatening to tell and it somehow involves something Henry did (this is the HTGAWM part). Then, the group will eventually kill Bunny to keep him quiet and Richard will be in on that one. But, Richard is the really pathetic excuse of a moral compass and so he will feel guilty but also be the lynchpin in covering it up.

No one ever said I didn't have a good imagination....


annapi | 4865 comments I did not think about the Magicians (which I hated), and I don't watch HTGAWM, but the rest of it I pretty much felt the same about. Richard's idiocy I just got impatient with, and yet somehow it also fascinated me.

Getting through Chapter 3 (they are long chapters!) took me awhile as I felt it meandered a bit too much in the scholarly discussions. The most exciting part was seeing how Richard would get through the winter and how he would end up.

I think it rather pathetic how they all let Bunny get away with so much. Sometimes it's not very believable, but I suppose they have to make him so odious that it's not a stretch to want to murder him.


Ellen | 2053 comments I agree with both your assessments so far. Bunny is that guy that once you give him an inch he'll stretch that into miles and miles. It is obvious that he has inside knowledge of something heinous about the rest of the group (not Richard).

Richard is crazy to have stayed the winter with the hippie mandolin carver. Seriously? A hole in the ceiling that dumps snow all over you when you are sleeping? Don't they have homeless shelters in Vermont?

The rest of the group: Henry seems the most interesting character; Francis is a big question mark so far; Charles and Camilla - please don't let there be a Flowers in the Attic scenario going on.

Looking forward to the rest of the book!


Nicole R (drnicoler) | 7644 comments Ellen wrote: "Charles and Camilla - please don't let there be a Flowers in the Attic scenario going on. ..."

Ha! I had the same thought about the twins. Though, Camilla seems to be with Francis and I think the author may be trying to sow some seeds of romance between her and Richard? It is clear that he is interested in her but she seems to also have affection for him.

Yeah, Richard was an idiot in the snowing apartment. I mean, I totally understand about having pride and not wanting to admit when you are in a bad situation, but that is freaking extreme.


Nicole R (drnicoler) | 7644 comments Is anyone else frustrated that the one professor gave Richard $200 instead of $20 to "fix his car" and then he never noticed?!? Come on, people still balance their checkbooks.

Part of me thinks that he may have done it on purpose? Like he knew Richard was lying, especially after he asked him all the questions about the mechanic's name and what was wrong with the car that Richard totally bumbled through even though he thought he lied perfectly. So, maybe the prof was just doing his good deed?


message 18: by Cora (new) - rated it 4 stars

Cora (corareading) | 1286 comments Nicole wrote: "Is anyone else frustrated that the one professor gave Richard $200 instead of $20 to "fix his car" and then he never noticed?!? Come on, people still balance their checkbooks.

Part of me thinks th..."


I assumed that he did it on purpose because he did believe him and knew it would cost more than $20.


annapi | 4865 comments Ellen wrote: "A hole in the ceiling that dumps snow all over you when you are sleeping?"

I forgot to mention, if he was able to climb to the roof to try and fix the hole, why couldn't he find a ladder to get him to the ceiling and try to fix it from the inside? Or at least make some minor attempt to block it? You would think that he could also sneak some equipment or items or some such from the school, say mats for example, to use as bedding or insulation. Even California transplants unused to extreme weather can figure these things out with minimal intelligence.


Ellen | 2053 comments I am a bit confused about the time period of the story. It feels like the 70's or 80's but then there are comments about rap music and the FBI agents having a laptop. The group is unsure of the price of a tv set so it seems like an earlier time. Did I miss the time setting somewhere?


Nicole R (drnicoler) | 7644 comments Ellen, I had that thought as well. There is a suspicious lack of texting and email checking for it to be too recent. Maybe the 80's? 80's rap was totally a thing....I still listen to Run DMC.


message 22: by Tien (new) - rated it 4 stars

Tien (tiensblurb) | 713 comments I mean to participate & have even started though only read a few pages so far... need to finish this library book that's due that i couldn't extend loan for :p

Will be back & read your conmments when I'm somewhat caught up :p


message 23: by Susie (new) - added it

Susie | 4488 comments I'm just starting today. It took me FOREVER to read The Magicians (Nicole, I'm on your wavelength about it) so I'm delving in today. I'll try and catch up as soon as I can. :-)


message 24: by Ladyslott (last edited Mar 10, 2016 04:14AM) (new) - rated it 3 stars

Ladyslott | 1880 comments I'm pretty sure it is the 80's. There are some later references to some pop culture that made me think this.

It's funny you mention HTGAWM. When I started watching the show I kept feeling that it reminded me of something, but couldn't figure out what that was, it definitely has that same vibe.


message 25: by Tien (last edited Mar 10, 2016 01:39PM) (new) - rated it 4 stars

Tien (tiensblurb) | 713 comments Linda S wrote: "I'm pretty sure it is the 80's. There are some later references to some pop culture that made me think this. "

okay, it's kinda early morning read (on the train to work) but I got about 50 pages done and I thought this must be around the 80's though right now, I really can't think which particular references in the book which made me think this is set in that era...

Also,

1. I haven't read The Magician and don't watch HTGAWM so no idea on how they compare to this. BUT... I thought of Dead Poet Society...? Maybe just the college setting & what they study rather than the plot.

2. I've only just started chapter 2 and yes, Bunny is odious & his comments on "fags", GAH!

3. My theory (so far), they didn't actually kill Bunny on purpose. It could have been an accident but they've done something that could've (or they thought could've) caused that "accident" so kept mum.

I don't know how much things cost in the 80's especially in the US -would $20 be sufficient to take your car to the repair shop?


annapi | 4865 comments Nah, Dead Poets has an entirely different vibe, not to mention a much better teacher.


message 27: by Tien (new) - rated it 4 stars

Tien (tiensblurb) | 713 comments annapi wrote: "Nah, Dead Poets has an entirely different vibe, not to mention a much better teacher."

I did think it was very different "vibe"; I don't know exactly why it popped into my head this morning :p


Ladyslott | 1880 comments Tien wrote: "2. I've only just started chapter 2 and yes, Bunny is odious & his comments on "fags", GAH."

I was in my 30's during the eighties. I lived and worked in NYC, which was the epicenter of the Gay Rights movement, which started with the Stonewall riots in 1969. Though some strides were made by the 80's, most people hadn't changed that much in their perceptions, so that reference, sadly, was appropriate to the times. It was also the dawn of the AIDS epidemic, which added fuel to the fire.


message 29: by Tien (new) - rated it 4 stars

Tien (tiensblurb) | 713 comments Linda S wrote: "I was in my 30's during the eighties."

Only yesterday, at the library, I saw a couple in their teens sitting oh so close together and I thought, gosh, I'm old... I've my 6yo trailing behind me and thought also that I'm so not looking forward 10 years' time when he'd probably be like that boy! And now... you make me feel like a babe-in-arms! LOL - I guess it's all relative :p

"I lived and worked in NYC, which was the epicenter of the Gay Rights movement, which started with the Stonewall riots in 1969. Though some strides were made by the 80's, most people hadn't changed that much in their perceptions, so that reference, sadly, was appropriate to the times. It was also the dawn of the AIDS epidemic, which added fuel to the fire. "

I'm not disputing that it's not appropriate to the times. I'm sure we can still find people with those views and still be very vocal about it all these days too but it still grated.


Ladyslott | 1880 comments Tien wrote: "I'm not disputing that it's not appropriate to the times. I'm sure we can still find people with those views and still be very vocal about it all these days too but it still grated.


I understand that, just pointing out that Tartt was just writing about a specific time and this was not unusual.


Nicole R (drnicoler) | 7644 comments Anita, avert your eyes....

I am almost to page 200 and I am just having trouble getting into this. I enjoy it when I am reading but am just not drawn into it. Maybe it is because I haven't had a lot of reading time so I end up only reading 5-10 pages at a time before I succumb to sleep?!

I heard others say that the second part gets more fast-paced, and I will be to book 2 in another 30 pages or so. Hopefully that is the case!


annapi | 4865 comments Push on, Nicole, it gets better in Book 2. I felt the same way as you, LOL hopefully you feel the same way as me, I enjoyed Book 2 much better.


Nicole R (drnicoler) | 7644 comments annapi wrote: "Push on, Nicole, it gets better in Book 2."

Thanks for the encouragement! I have to do some late night loads of laundry tonight when I get home and plan to wrap up book 1.


Anita Pomerantz | 6257 comments Nicole wrote: "Anita, avert your eyes....

"


I hope you don't think this direction actually worked, lol.

So sorry - - I was afraid of this outcome! xo


message 35: by Tien (new) - rated it 4 stars

Tien (tiensblurb) | 713 comments hahaha, if anything, it'll attract her attention especially since you mentioned her name ;)

I think I'm a little further ahead of you, Nicole. I had to put it down over the weekend; I've got some reading to do for work but I hope to pick it back up & be on-schedule for Wed ;)

I tried reading this book years ago (can't remember when) and I don't think I got past first chapter and I'm now in the middle of chapter 5 and am quite enjoying it :)

Nicole, looks like your theory is much closer than mine! :p
And you know what, I don't think I like any of these characters... snobs, the bunch of them! and poor Richard; hasn't got a clue about himself...


message 36: by Joi (new) - rated it 5 stars

Joi (missjoious) | 3775 comments Just popped in to say I just got this book! I'm through chapter 1, so hopefully I can catch up and join you guys soon :D


message 37: by Joi (last edited Mar 19, 2016 10:03AM) (new) - rated it 5 stars

Joi (missjoious) | 3775 comments OK, just finished chapter 3.

I agree with everyone who has said Cammilla and Charles are a bit 'Flowers in the Attic'-y (which I now am putting on my TBR, somehow missed the movie started as a book...). There's got to be something coming with Camilla and Richard with all he talks about here. This storyline makes me interested to read more.

Bunny is the absolute worst. Seriously, tricking someone into a $200+ lunch, then "forgetting the wallet"? He just reminds me those people who want everything for nothing. Plus everything he says sounds like he's talking out of his ass. So insufferable.

I feel like this reads faster than the page count shows. This is almost 500 pages long, but so far it hasn't felt like a 500+ page book. Except when they get all philisophical. Then It feels like a 1000+ page book.


message 38: by Susie (new) - added it

Susie | 4488 comments Hi guys! I'm behind schedule and have just finished chapter three. I'm enjoying the prose and, like Nicole, I'm enjoying it when I read it but it's only just starting to pull me in. I feel as though from now on I'm going to love it. Fingers crossed!

I had exactly the same thought about HTGAWM!

I'm not finding Richard annoying. He strikes me as a person painfully desperate to fit in and hopelessly unaware of the way the world works. I feel really sorry for him because I can see that his desperation to be a part of what he sees as a glamorous clique is going to be his undoing.

I'm not reading all of the comments until I have caught up. :-)


Nicole R (drnicoler) | 7644 comments Okay, as to the year the book is set, there was just a reference to Oprah and Phil. Dr. Phil first appeared on Oprah in the late 90's!! This may just be a slip up by the author, the rest of the books definitely has more of an 80's vibe but I thought I would share.

Is this the mystery/thriller part of the book?!? Lol


message 40: by Tien (new) - rated it 4 stars

Tien (tiensblurb) | 713 comments Nicole wrote: "Is this the mystery/thriller part of the book?!? Lol "

ha ha ha - I wonder if there's going to be some gut wrenching twist at the end... I don't feel/think so but just maybe...

In any case, I am quite enjoying the read. I really don't know why I gave up when I first tried to read it years ago. I'm not quite up to date with the schedule but I have passed halfway & so far, I'd say 3.5-4 stars. The ending had better be good!

Btw, did anyone laugh out loud when the paper quoted Cloke? I couldn't help myself :p


message 41: by Joi (new) - rated it 5 stars

Joi (missjoious) | 3775 comments Why is everyone kissing?!

Lol, Tien. I laughed at that too.


Nicole R (drnicoler) | 7644 comments Joi wrote: "Why is everyone kissing?!"

Because they are horny college kids?! lol


message 43: by Susie (new) - added it

Susie | 4488 comments Struggling over here in Australia!


Nicole R (drnicoler) | 7644 comments How far are you, Susie?

I agree with many people that Book One was kind of slow but Book Two has really picked up!


message 45: by Susie (new) - added it

Susie | 4488 comments I've just finished Book 1. I needed your words of encouragement! I'll keep at it. Thanks!


Nicole R (drnicoler) | 7644 comments Hang in there just a bit long. But, if you just can't get into it then there is no shame in setting it aside! Life is too short for bad books.


message 47: by Susie (new) - added it

Susie | 4488 comments But Anita is watching!


Nicole R (drnicoler) | 7644 comments Ha! Hell hath no fury like Anita when her favorite book is scorned.


annapi | 4865 comments Susie wrote: "I've just finished Book 1. I needed your words of encouragement! I'll keep at it. Thanks!"

Susie, the pace picks up in Book 2. I found Book 1 a slog, but once Book 2 started, I couldn't put it down. So keep going!


Anita Pomerantz | 6257 comments Nicole wrote: "Ha! Hell hath no fury like Anita when her favorite book is scorned."

LOL, ok, this is totally untrue! I'm will sit here and privately *sob*, but I promise not to yell at anyone.

I'll just be heartbroken that's all. It's nothing.


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