The Secret History is a book I read six years ago and it still leaves me in awe. It’s a perfect novel. Great characters, situations black humour, suspense. It’s got it all and it’s a page turner of the first degree.
Professional cynic Richard Papen leaves his working class upbringing to a posh college located in Vermont. We soon learn that Richard is slightly dishonest as he lies his way into the college and eventually does the same so that he enrolls himself into the Classics program.
Once he is there he learns that his fellow classmates (for want of a better word) have rather sinister motives and thus Richard is pushed into some messy situations. Most of the time each is much worse than the last. In the end he does manage to get out of it but with great repercussions.
The Secret History is reminiscent of Waugh’s Brideshead Revisited and there are elements of both Greek and Shakespearean tragedies. Tartt is not so clear in some places so there are passages which make you question certain characters, especially the professor Julian Morrow but it’s this air of mystery that makes the book so compulsively readable. We actually do want to know what will happen to the characters and whether they will be punished for their ways.
Like I said before I have absolutely no complaints at all and this is indeed a must read.