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The Secret History
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Previous Reads: Around the World > USA: The Secret History by Donna Tartt

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message 1: by Louise, Group Founder (new)

Louise | 680 comments Mod
Our 'Read Around the World' group read for June is The Secret History by Donna Tartt, set in the USA.




Blurb
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 they slip gradually from obsession to corruption and betrayal, and at last - inexorably - into evil.

Donna Tartt
Donna Tartt (born December 23, 1963) is an American writer, the author of the novels The Secret History (1992), The Little Friend (2002), and The Goldfinch (2013). Tartt won the WH Smith Literary Award for The Little Friend in 2003 and the Pulitzer Prize for fiction for The Goldfinch in 2014.


Elizabeth (Alaska) I read this in December 13. This is most of what I had to say then.

Well, I'm disappointed to say the least. This was a great read up until somewhere just after the halfway point. At that point the author seemingly had little more story left in her. There was a dramatic moment perhaps 50 pages from the end. By that time, however, I was so tired of drugs and booze and hand-wringing that I didn't much care. I don't find "I took some sleeping pills and went to the movies" interesting.

There were inconsistencies throughout. Having never been to Vermont, I suspect I saw fewer of them, but in the beginning the first person narrator came from a town near San Jose where he could watch the Disneyland fireworks every night. Well, good for him, though I doubt it. San Jose is 400 miles from Disneyland. My antenna for error went into lookout mode, and the story lost believability immediately.


message 3: by Louise, Group Founder (new)

Louise | 680 comments Mod
Quick check in!

How's everyone getting on with this? I have to admit I have not been able to read along this month due to numerous rl factors pushing several of my book group reads down the list (moving house, family reunions, and being sent all over the place for work has left me with v little time/energy to read much).


Jeanne | 38 comments I'm working away at Secret History (p. 274 of 520), but it's not a quick, easy, or comfortable read. I love her writing and the narrator's voice, (view spoiler). I'm hoping that the narrator – who is writing ten or so years out – draws some moral conclusions. If the only goal is to make us uncomfortable, I'm there already. And, surprisingly, I like the book.


message 5: by Carol (new) - added it

Carol (carolfromnc) | 1719 comments Mod
Louise wrote: "Quick check in!

How's everyone getting on with this? I have to admit I have not been able to read along this month due to numerous rl factors pushing several of my book group reads down the list (..."


That pesky rl has messed with my reading recently, too. Good luck with that move.


Jeanne | 38 comments Finally finished Secret History. My reactions were opposite to those of Elizabeth (Alaska), as I liked the book better after the half-way point, where the characters were finally horrified by their actions (including much drugs and booze and hand-wringing). This is not a simple and easy book, but one that I expect will stick with me across time.

My review: https://www.goodreads.com/review/show...


Kairia I'm very late to the party but I finished the Secret History a few minutes ago. It was surprisingly enjoyable considering I know close to nothing about Greek in general, whether language or history, so I was expecting quite a dull ride.
There were a lot of themes discussed in this book. The one that took me a bit by surprise (which may have been obvious to other readers) was the incestuous relationship between the twins. The kitchen scene where they're kissing happened and ended so quickly. The other characters themselves, while slightly disturbed, didn't really seem to find this fact too horrifying. It was just another quirk in their corrupted and evil circle of friendship.


Anita Fajita Pita (anitafajitapitareada) | 774 comments Mod
I was late to read this, but I did read it! I personally found the pacing of the book really frustrating. I went from turning pages as fast as I could to see what would happen, to checking the page number every page because nothing was happening.

I didn't love it, but I didn't hate it. I think I was hoping for much more ancient Greek rituals and cult activity than the minimal past tense discussions of "the event" that set off the chain of events that were the premise of this story. The blurb sure sold me on much more Greek and cult.

And it makes me wonder if there's something wrong with me or my socialization that I'm not completely aghast at this group's behavior and general moral character; rather than blame it on the storytelling.


Kairia Anita wrote: "And it makes me wonder if there's something wrong with me or my socialization that I'm not completely aghast at this group's behavior and general moral character; rather than blame it on the storytelling. "

I think it was the tone the book was written in. The characters just rolled with the flow. Whatever happened, happened. That's the attitude I perceived and it was the attitude I felt personally. It felt like acts of survival as opposed to acts of crime or immorality.


Jeanne | 38 comments Kairia wrote: "I think it was the tone the book was written in. The characters just rolled with the flow. Whatever happened, happened. That's the attitude I perceived and it was the attitude I felt personally. It felt like acts of survival as opposed to acts of crime or immorality. "

It felt to me like the narrator was pulled in by the current of this small culture, within which anything/many things were possible that we would otherwise see as impossible. Anita, perhaps you were also pulled under by this current.


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