Thursday, June 23, 2005

The secret history (Review)

The Secret History
Donna Tartt
Published 1992

A few years back this book was on the best sellers list. I managed to pick it up for $4.99 during the summer sales! It sat on my bedside table for months until just a few weeks ago. It was certainly worth the wait. This is not a short novel, by any means, but it flows along nicely, with the authors descriptions evoking a sense of yesteryear. To give you a sense of what I mean, imagine curling up in an old leather wingback chair, in front of the fire, warm beverage by your side. It's the sort of book you read wearing your warm woollen socks.
Set in a small University in America's New England, Richard the protagonist begins a course in the classics. However, this is not your usual run-of-the-mill lectures and tutorials. Richard somehow gets into an exclusive class of five people run by a talented professor. The surroundings are gothic, with an old fashioned boarding school feel and as a reader you immerse yourself into academia. At the same time, there are reminders that the book is set in contemporary times. The other students, the drug taking and partying. But this book, although set in a university, is not solely about these sorts of issues.
The book is a murder mystery/thriller. It opens with Richard telling you of the murder that he and others have just committed. So you begin. Knowing who is dead and you are compelled to read just how they got to that point. It is all in the telling and Donna Tartt does so very nicely.

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