“I adore the slow, building tension and the sense that I, as a reader, was being skillfully manipulated,” stated Maggie Stiefvater, a New York Times bestselling author, after reading The Secret History by Donna Tartt.
The Secret History is a true modern classic, set against the backdrop of a prestigious New England college where Richard Papen, the antihero, is receiving an education in the study of classics. This story begins with the narrator, Richard, moving across the country to attend Hampden college where he meets the five antagonists—Bunny, Henry, Camilla, Charles and Francis—whom readers hate to love. These characters form an unlikely friendship that turns into something far more sinister than the Greek class in which they met.
Tartt takes readers through the journey of this story, in which readers not only understand the main characters’ dark vices but also root for their success despite all their wrongdoings.
As has been the case for many who read this novel, The Secret History was an instant five-star read. Despite its dark themes and unlovable characters, readers ended up rooting for the characters’ success and wellbeing by the end of the story.
From the beginning, Tartt reveals that the story is about a murder plot in which all the main characters are centrally involved. However, this is not a typical murder mystery novel. Instead, Tartt reveals who the perpetrators are and who the victim is on page one. Although most of the main characters are murderers, Tartt persuades readers to deeply care about them and feel personally connected to their individual stories—even though they deserve nothing less than a life sentence in prison.
Arguably the best and most satisfying aspect of this novel is that from the first sentence the readers know exactly who is going to die and who killed whom. Because the main plotline is revealed from the start, the reader can enjoy trying to piece together the journey that the main cast of characters embarks upon.
If there could be one story that everyone is required to read in 2021, it should be this book. Many people can learn something from it and truly enjoy every moment of this novel. This book has a 4.1 star rating on GoodReads, and every review posted has at least a few positive things to say about Tartt’s well-crafted narrative. It is a story that will make one reflect on the true faults and misgivings of humanity.