Whoever follows me on twitter knows how I’ve been completely and utterly obsessed with this book lately. It has devoured me, taken over my soul and will not be getting detached from me anytime soon. So naturally, you’d expect that when I sit down to write a review, words would fling themselves at the screen from right and left and I’d be drowning in my emotions and looking something like this :
well you’re right. I’m a tad dramatic but here’s my review of the secret history, have fun!
Under the influence of their charismatic classics professor, a group of clever, eccentric misfits at an elite New England college discover a way of thinking and living that is a world away from the humdrum existence of their contemporaries. But when they go beyond the boundaries of normal morality they slip gradually from obsession to corruption and betrayal, and at last – inexorably – into evil. Read more on Goodreads
I think it’s been almost ten days since I put this book down, but even still, there hardly passes a moment when I’m not thinking about it. And that my friends, is the beauty of this book. This is not a murder mystery because you’re told in the prologue itself about who gets murdered and who murders them but nevertheless it carries with itself a very whimsical and almost hypnotic quality till the very end of the book.
So what is this book really about?
It follows the lives of a group of friends in college with deep secrets which gathers even more depth after their horrendous doings. Their lives are changed forever, an incident with its claws on their throat, creating an unbearable, lovely tension that grows and grows, revealing more than one can handle. In simple terms it’s about the Greek definition of beauty, of living without any moral restraints, and the horror of its consequences. It follows a plot, so intriguing, so mesmerizing that you won’t be able to put it down until you have all the answers. Which brings me to my next point : there are no answers or a definite clear explanation of the events in the book. You’ll be hopeless, desperate and aching for someone to explain to you, you’ll want to look up Donna Tart’s email address and scream at her in frustration and your search history would look like a cascade of never ending questions.
My feelings for this wicked masterpiece is all over the place. So I’ll save myself some hundred words of raving and crying, here’s a list of a few reasons why I loved TSH and you might do so too :
💎 It has the most bizarre and pretentious set of characters who are obsessed with ancient Greek and mythology. And I am totally aware that this could be a bad aspect but this is what this makes this book distinguishable from all the others. They are flawed, diabolical and yet so inhumanely beautiful. They quote classics like its nobody’s business and are adorable killer geeks who take their course quite too seriously. (You’ll get it once you read the book)
tip : you must.
💎 I am not exaggerating a bit when I say that this book contains some very very beautiful prose. It has a certain coldness and mystical quality which flows in a perfect rhythm with the atmosphere of the book.
“Some things are too terrible to grasp at once. Other things – naked, sputtering, indelible in their horror – are too terrible to really grasp ever at all. It is only later, in solitude, in memory that the realization dawns: when the ashes are cold; when the mourners have departed; when one looks around and finds oneself – quite to one’s surprise – in an entirely different world.”
💎 It has the classic lonely wallflower narrator but with a twist : He’s an unreliable one. Richard Papen is your sick-of-life, wants-to-fit-in type of character and he wants to belong, wants to experience the epic highs and lows of life (even if it means going crazy with the rest of your crazy friends but ok) and that is one of the important themes of the book. Also this book has Henry Winter. He just does things for the aesthetic pleasure of it. He might be extremely morally loose, but he’s a brilliant character and one of my favorites now.
💎 If you love Greek mythology, chances are you’ll love this book. It has a lot of quotes and references to literature too. If you must know, this book comes in the genre of dark academia. What is not to love?
However, If you’ve seen the Goodreads page, this book is either loved or hated. And the thing is I can understand why people would dislike it. A book isn’t for everyone. The secret history is not for people who only like fast paced books. I would not say that it is slow, but it takes some time to soothe you into the story. It is also a thick book, with not much action taking place. Readers who don’t like open ended plots where you have to fill in most of the gaps yourself would not be a great fan of the story either.
but I’m hoping you’d give it a try anyway.
I want to write so much but even a book on it would not do justice to my feelings about this. The minute I closed my paperback, I knew I was besotted. I knew it would linger on for a long long time. I’ve loved and I’ve hated a book, but I don’t think I’ve ever been so strangely obsessed with one. I’m shook, perplexed and and beyond appalled. And I love it,
“I suppose at one time in my life I might have had any number of stories, but now there is no other. This is the only story I will ever be able to tell.”
Hello sweethearts ❤ How is it going? Have you read the secret history? Are you planning to? Would love to hear your thoughts on this.
Have a lovely day!