The Secret History.
Book InfoThe Secret History
by Donna Tartt
Publisher: Alfred A. Knopf
Reason: Read "The Goldfinch" and this was also recommended. Became available on audiobook so got it from the library. The book is also on the Torchlight List: Around the World in 200 Books Also listed as a Top Teen book
The Secret History, the first novel by Mississippi-born writer Donna Tartt, was published by Alfred A. Knopf in 1992. A 75,000 print order was made for the first edition (as opposed to the usual 10,000 order for a debut novel), and the book became a bestseller.
Set in New England, The Secret History tells the story of a closely knit group of six classics students at a small, elite Vermont college, Hampden College, similar in many respects to Bennington College (in Bennington, Vermont) where Tartt was a student from 1982 to 1986.
The story is an inverted detective story, not a Whodunit but a Whydunit.
One of the six students is the story’s narrator, Richard Papen, who reflects, years later, on the situation that led to a murder within the group, the murder being confessed at the outset of the novel but the events otherwise revealed sequentially. In the opening chapter, as the reader is introduced to Papen, we are told of the death of student Edmund “Bunny” Corcoran, although few details are given initially. The novel explores the circumstances and lasting effects of Bunny’s death on the academically and socially isolated group of Classics students of which he was a part.
The impact on the students is ultimately destructive, and the potential promise of many young lives is lost to circumstance. The story parallels, in many ways, a Greek tragedy with fate dictating the very circumstances that lead to an escalation of already fermenting issues.
Donna Tartt was born in Greenwood, Mississippi and is a graduate of Bennington College. She is the author of the novels The Secret History and The Little Friend, which have been translated into thirty languages.
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