Book Review: The Secret History by Donna Tartt

by Liz Keating '24 on March 5, 2023
A&E Staff

Arts & Entertainment

Donna Tartt’s The Secret History (1992) is a gripping novel that explores the lives of a group of elite college students who become entangled in a web of secrets, deception, and murder.

The story is narrated by Richard Papen, a young man from a humble background who is fascinated by the idea of studying at Hampden College, an elite liberal arts school in Vermont. He is accepted into an exclusive group of students who are studying under the enigmatic classics professor, Julian Morrow. As Richard becomes more immersed in the world of his new friends, he discovers that they are all hiding dark secrets and are involved in a dangerous and sinister plot.

The characters in The Secret History are well-drawn and complex, each with their own distinct personalities, quirks, and motivations. Richard, the narrator, is a curious and intelligent young man who is drawn to the glamorous lifestyle of his new friends. He becomes increasingly involved in their activities, even as he begins to suspect that something is not quite right.

The other members of the group are also fascinating in their own right. Henry, the charismatic leader of the group, is brilliant but manipulative, and his actions ultimately lead to the group’s downfall. Francis, the effeminate and neurotic member of the group, is also compelling, as is his relationship with the dark and brooding Charles. Finally, there is Camilla, the beautiful and mysterious woman who becomes the object of desire for all of the male members of the group.

Tartt’s prose is elegant and sophisticated, and she does an excellent job of immersing the reader in the world of the book. The descriptions of the college campus, the surrounding countryside, and the various characters are all vivid and detailed, making it easy for the reader to become fully immersed in the story.

The plot of The Secret History is dark and complex, and Tartt does an excellent job of building tension and suspense throughout the book. The story is not told in a linear fashion, with the events of the novel unfolding gradually and out of order. This creates a sense of disorientation and unease that keeps the reader engaged and on edge.

Overall, The Secret History is a brilliantly written novel that explores themes of guilt, identity, and the dark side of human nature. The characters are complex and compelling, the language is elegant and sophisticated, and the plot is suspenseful and engaging. It is a must-read for fans of literary fiction and psychological thrillers.

The Best Books for Fall

by Liz Keating '24 on October 21, 2022
A&E Staff

Arts & Entertainment

From Horror to Poetry, the Best Books You Want to Read This Fall 

With fall having just begun and Halloween right around the corner, what better time for some perfect fall reads? Whether it be a murder mystery to get you in that Halloween mood, or just a book that makes you want to curl up on a nice autumn day, here are the best books to get you in the mood for the season.

  • Coraline by Neil Gaiman 

Nothing screams fall like a spooky story to get you in the Halloween mood. If you are a fan of the classic Halloween movie Coraline, the book by Neil Gaiman will probably be right up your alley. The story follows a young girl named Coraline that, upon moving into her new house, discovers a door to a world that mirrors her own. However, she finds that this other world is much more sinister than her real one. Gaiman’s intended audience for this novella is young adults, but the other world he is able to create can easily scare all ages.

  • The Immortalists by Chloe Benjamin 

The Immortalists is a quintessential fall story filled with family drama, death, and fortune-telling. The story follows four siblings from the 1960s to 2010. They have been obsessed with death, particularly how they are going to die, ever since a fortune teller told them their deaths when they were children. This novel is a character-based story that keeps the reader hooked from beginning to end, wanting to find out which sibling reaches their fate first.

  •  The Secret History by Donna Tartt 

If you are looking for the quintessential “dark academia” novel, look no further. The Secret History follows the main character, Richard, who transfers to a preppy Vermont college. He becomes intertwined with a friend group he meets in a very exclusive and immersive Greek studies class but begins to find out that his new friends all hold deadly secrets. This classic murder mystery with a little bit of a twist is the perfect companion for your rainy fall days. 

  • A Poem for Every Autumn Day by Allie Esiri 

If you are not looking for a full commitment story, this collection of poems put together by Allie Esiri will still give you something to share with others this fall. From Shakespeare to Robert Louis Stevenson and Amy Lowell, these poems are the perfect backdrop to fall days spent with the ones you love. 

  • Carrie by Steven King 

This wouldn’t be a fall book list without the king of horror stories, Steven King. Carrie is a classic Halloween story that everyone knows. From multiple movie adaptations to a full-blown Broadway musical, Carrie is a widely known character. Set in the then-future year of 1979, the story revolves around Carrie White, a bullied girl raised in an abusive religious household who recently discovered her telekinetic powers. The reader follows Carrie’s desire to enact revenge on the ones that scorned her. Carrie is a predictable classic, which has been redone many times, for a reason.