Neurotic Fishbowl: The Secret History by Donna Tartt

 

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The Secret History by Donna Tartt

The Secret History by Donna Tartt: exquisitely written first novel that crosses so many genres that it is almost impossible to categorize.

Most novels do not start out with telling you both who has been murdered (Bunny Corcoran) and who has murdered him (Richard, Henry, Francis, Charles, and Camilla) since usually the point of a novel containing a murder is to figure out who did it. However, in the case of this novel, it only made me want to know even more why Bunny was turned on by his friends - what could motivate such a betrayal?

The novel is set is a small, very exclusive Vermont college. Richard, a freshman from California who studied ancient Greek, is enamored with the five elite Greek students taught by a professor, Julian, who refuses to take more than a handful of pupils into his class. Most of the novel focuses on Richard's increasing interaction and the inevitable murder that it leads to.

While I wouldn't call this novel slow, it definitely is not a quick read, but I think I liked it more for its slower, more stately pace. It's a fairly large book (just over 500 pages), but I never did feel that it was too long or needed to speed up even throughout the first two hundred pages or so it's impossible for one to imagine how things are ever going to end up with a murder.

I enjoyed the book greatly and while I'm not sure it's for everyone, I would recommend reading it and seeing why Bunny's death was an eventuality that was almost impossible for the group to avoid.

(Finished on September 16, 2003 for Zuly’s Reading Room.)

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