Book Reviews of The Secret History

The Secret History
The Secret History
Author: Donna Tartt
ISBN-13: 9781400031702
ISBN-10: 1400031702
Publication Date: 4/13/2004
Pages: 576
Rating:
  • Currently 3.8/5 Stars.
 146

3.8 stars, based on 146 ratings
Publisher: Vintage
Book Type: Paperback
Reviews: Amazon | Write a Review

61 Book Reviews submitted by our Members...sorted by voted most helpful

reviewed The Secret History on + 146 more book reviews
Helpful Score: 7
I loved this book. It has everything: beauty, unrequited love, betrayal, mystery and murder. This book reads like a classic. I kept flipping to the copyright page to make sure it was written in 1992. I thought the story was much older. The characters were believable, if you have ever been in a dormitory type setting you will see what I mean. Every time I thought that the author could not put another twist, I was wrong. As you get to the end you read faster and faster to find out what happens, I could not put it down. I ride the bus to work, while reading this the ride went by so fast. Usually I kind of know where I am but this book took me straight to Vermont. Time would pass and I would not know where I was. I highly recommend this book.
reviewed The Secret History on + 21 more book reviews
Helpful Score: 4
The characters in this book all exhibit a very dark side, yet at the same time you feel great empathy towards the young narrator Richard Papen who gets caught up in something that quickly spirals beyond his control. A vivid and original take on the "college" novel.
reviewed The Secret History on + 8 more book reviews
Helpful Score: 3
From the beginning, you know who dies. The rest of the book is a gentle unfolding of why and how and the entire who. I thought this would be a terrible mystery, but was really surprised at how much I cared about the various characters and their activities. No one was what he/she appeared at different times, and all, including the victim, were greatly flawed. That did not make the story less charming or intriguing, and Tartt did an admirable job of portraying a group of folks who didn't quite fit in with the average campus, but who made their own mini-society and lived and died by it.
reviewed The Secret History on + 3 more book reviews
Helpful Score: 3
It was a really good read. I feel like I need a fluff piece now though. It was so dark and twisted and intricate.
reviewed The Secret History on + 86 more book reviews
Helpful Score: 3
a little wordy; complex, not an easy or fast read
reviewed The Secret History on + 17 more book reviews
Helpful Score: 2
I have never enjoyed a book so much and yet disliked the characters so thoroughly. I found myself staying up much too late to read "just one more chapter."
reviewed The Secret History on + 1140 more book reviews
Helpful Score: 2
The writing is competent, but the story never clicked for me--just seemingly endless pages of pretentious and uninteresting people behaving badly.
reviewed The Secret History on + 43 more book reviews
Helpful Score: 2
So gripping that I couldn't put it down. Be prepared for a few late nights!
reviewed The Secret History on + 84 more book reviews
Helpful Score: 2
Was not expecting this book to be what it became...it is one of my favorites so far. As others have said, it is a little slow in the beginning, and a few of the characters you wanted to just roll your eyes at. But a very good suspensful book.
reviewed The Secret History on + 5 more book reviews
Helpful Score: 1
I was completely hooked on this story until about the half way mark, but the author just continued to draw it out for so long, I lost steam and had to force myself to finish it. If it was 150-200 pages shorter, it would have gotten 4 to 5 stars from me.
reviewed The Secret History on + 71 more book reviews
Helpful Score: 1
I really enjoyed this book. It is quite dark. I liked The Little Friend better, but this was definitely worth reading.
reviewed The Secret History on + 686 more book reviews
Helpful Score: 1
This book was not for me. It is excessively wordy and in my opinion is trying to be something it is not as in attempting to become "literature" rather than a paperback to be enjoyed. I couldn't get through the first chapter and of course if I gave it more of a chance maybe I could have gotten through it, but honestly it lost me so much in those pages that I didn't want to give it a chance!
reviewed The Secret History on + 92 more book reviews
Helpful Score: 1
The story is set at an Ivy League college on the Eastern seaboard, among an small exclusive group of people who study the Greeks. Theory takes the place of reason and the mystery begins. Who is part of the tight cycle and who will be the victim? This is a believable and tight suspense novel by a quality writer.
reviewed The Secret History on + 36 more book reviews
Helpful Score: 1
A fascinating look at group dynamics. This book really got going in the last 200 pages. Up until then, it's a bit draggy, albeit with great writing.
reviewed The Secret History on + 141 more book reviews
Helpful Score: 1
I ordered this book because it had so many good reviews, but I am disappointed in it. This is probably a generational issue since I am 81 years old and had difficulty relating to the main characters. To my mind, the main characters had very little morality or a sense of right and wrong. In addition, they all had enough money to over indulge in practices which diminished them further( drugs and drunkenness).
To my mind they are living a totally useless life; studying useless courses in Ancient Greek and translating philosophy which does not necessarily apply to this age and time. The worst thing of all in this book is that they murder two innocent people and have no conscience about it, and when the book ends there has been no punishment for the mortal sin they have committed. Other readers have loved it. I didn't . Genny
reviewed The Secret History on + 113 more book reviews
Helpful Score: 1
One of my all time favorite books. Slow in the beginning, but so rewarding if you stick with it. A very unusual story, interesting, and a one of a kind book.
reviewed The Secret History on + 18 more book reviews
Donna Tartt is a very good writer. Very involving novel.
reviewed The Secret History on + 14 more book reviews
This is full of twists and turns. You never quite know who the good guy is and who the bad guy is. The story stays with you long after you finish.
reviewed The Secret History on + 4 more book reviews
This was suggested to me by my fiance. He had actually never read it but had heard good things about it. He was right, I did love it. It was a surprisingly clever and had one or two decent plot twists. I would recommend this book to anyone who wants a light read.
reviewed The Secret History on + 21 more book reviews
Slow beginning despite the first page revealing that a crime's been committed. If you can get past the first few chapters, it's a worthwhile read.
reviewed The Secret History on + 18 more book reviews
Donna Tartt has a great following for those who enjoy new fiction literature. THis was her first book, I think. Very interesting.
reviewed The Secret History on
The book was very good in some areas, although it seemed a bit dated. It's set in 1982, and written in 1992. I actually found myself disliking the author/narrator for making condescending comments like "He had such a nice touch with the common people," who were apparently anyone who didn't attend the third rate college where most of the alumni "ran shops selling hippie paraphanalia." The relationship with the professor, which was supposedly so pivotal, was never really fleshed out. Tartt wrote little about him, and even less of his interactions with the students, while other less important relationships were incredibly overwritten.

I couldn't help but compare it to the Rule of Four - also about a group of college friends studying the classics. If Rule of Four is a 10, this book is a 3.
reviewed The Secret History on
Beautiful and very intersting writing.
reviewed The Secret History on + 12 more book reviews
An overwrought and pretentious thriller. Much along the lines of "American Psycho".
reviewed The Secret History on
absolutely unbelievable intellectual thriller. combines myster, occult and love of language. a masterpiece of noir fiction. I must read it again.
reviewed The Secret History on + 3 more book reviews
I don't normally go for thrillers, but this is the thinking person's exception. You find out who did it on the first page, but don't care- the writing is that good.

If you are looking for an excellent read which will last you multiple international flights and the accompanying interminable layovers, it's an excellent choice.

This is a dense book, and has a decidedly pro-academic bias. All things which I enjoy; highly recommended.
reviewed The Secret History on + 72 more book reviews
An egrossing and complex novel, the elaborate story keeps one interested throughout. Not at all a light read.
reviewed The Secret History on + 204 more book reviews
This is destined to be a classic. The complexity of the plot and characters, the elite and erudite ambience -- they make for a thrilling story. Will recommend this to friends.

Richard Papen, our narrator, starts out with this statement:

"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."
reviewed The Secret History on + 13 more book reviews
Reminds me of "Lord of the Flies," kind-of-sort-of. Good book for arm-chair psychiatrists.
reviewed The Secret History on + 6 more book reviews
Ok, so this book was referred to me by a friend who found a link to three "must read books". I had already read one of the 3, which I liked, so I ordered the other two. This one was a disappointment. I found it tedious and morally corrupt. The characters are pompous, self important and out of touch with the real world. This may be true in some small liberal arts schools this book purports to describe but I found this did not ring true with my reality. Anyway, I hope this helps someone save time a find a truly good book.
reviewed The Secret History on + 28 more book reviews
Great book about some college misfits who slip beyond appropriate boundaries.....very good!
reviewed The Secret History on + 35 more book reviews
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.
reviewed The Secret History on + 3 more book reviews
Very fascinating characters and plot. A definite read.
reviewed The Secret History on + 27 more book reviews
Good read, a page turner.
reviewed The Secret History on + 94 more book reviews
Narrator Richard Papen comes from a lower-class family and a loveless California home to the "hermetic, overheated atmosphere" of Vermont's Hampden College. Almost too easily, he is accepted into a clique of five socially sophisticated students who study Classics with an idiosyncratic, morally fraudulent professor. Despite their demanding curriculum (they quote Greek classics to each other at every opportunity) the friends spend most of their time drinking and taking pills. Finally they reveal to Richard that they accidentally killed a man during a bacchanalian frenzy; when one of their number seems ready to spill the secret, the group--now including Richard--must kill him, too.
reviewed The Secret History on + 2 more book reviews
Before I started reading this book, I was told it was supposedly pretty good. The whole time I was reading it I was expecting this great story but I found myself being bored and forcing myself to finish this book. It wasn't extremely horrible, there were some good parts in the book, mostly at the end.
reviewed The Secret History on
A must read. A well written tale of friendship, betrayal and love.
reviewed The Secret History on + 2 more book reviews
Really enjoyed this book. It was a little slow to get in to, but once I did I couldn't put it down.
reviewed The Secret History on + 278 more book reviews
Slow beginning despite the first page revealing that a crime's been committed. If you can get past the first few chapters, it's a worthwhile read.
reviewed The Secret History on + 119 more book reviews
Richard Payton arrives at collage in New England and immediatley becomes suduced by the charms of campus life. When Richard becomes part of the "in" group, he learns of a secret that binds them all together. A secret of an ancient rite that was brought to life...and that was the beginning.
An great psychological thriller.
reviewed The Secret History on + 2 more book reviews
A haunting book, very good read--possibly one of the top 10 books I've read this year.
reviewed The Secret History on + 141 more book reviews
I loved this book and all of Donna Tartt's work so far. Slower pacing means more imagery, more characterization, more suspense. These people felt so real to me, it was incredible. Great read, great page-turner!
reviewed The Secret History on + 8 more book reviews
Psychological study of college students. It is haunting.
reviewed The Secret History on + 37 more book reviews
I absolutely adored Tartt's other novel, The Little Friend, and I had high hopes for this one too. I was not disappointed. The novel tells the story of five students at an elite New England liberal arts college. All of the students are tremendously, unusually devoted to their studies, and this devotion leads them to tragedy as they murder first, an outsider, and then one of their own. The fact of the murders is not the suspenseful part of the plot. Indeed, the murder of one of the group's own is revealed on the first page. Rather, the interest, intruige, and suspense comes in how the students cope with the knowledge of what they've done. Their suspicion, fear, and even some remorse wreak havoc and lead the group to an even more tragic climax. The main characters in this book are Classics students, and indeed, the book itself reads much like a Greek tragedy, with precipitous decline, and knowledge thereof.

Donna Tartt is a phenomenal storyteller. She creates plots that are deep, rich, and complex. Much like The Little Friend, The Secret History is a highly psychological book. I was absolutely gripped by this book from beginning to end.
reviewed The Secret History on + 68 more book reviews
Intriguing, engaging book. A little too much horror for my liking.
reviewed The Secret History on + 89 more book reviews
It took me a long time to read this book. I can usually finish a book in 2 - 3 days. This book took me about 10! I kept reading to find out what was going to happen, but I didn't really care what was going to happen. If I stuck to my rule, I would've stopped reading at page 50, but I stuck it out. I don't know if I would've missed anything or not, probably not. It wasn't as great as the other reviewers are making it sound. It was just an o.k read.
reviewed The Secret History on + 81 more book reviews
A very good thriller, well-written, detailed, with characterization. A rich novel.
reviewed The Secret History on + 5 more book reviews
Wonderful read, a bit slow in parts but aided in character development.
reviewed The Secret History on + 11 more book reviews
I loved this book. You know those books that are such an enjoyable read that you never want them to end? For me this was one of those books - I hated to leave this story behind.
reviewed The Secret History on + 2 more book reviews
Book one had me intrigued. Book two put me to sleep.
Her descriptions are so rich and vivid- not to mention relentless- they actually ruin the story. An amazing first book for such a young writer, but this certaily isn't a classic.
Flashy, prententious, irksome.
reviewed The Secret History on
Wow! This was a great story - I could not wait to see what would happen next.
reviewed The Secret History on + 167 more book reviews
A psychological thriller that tells you whodunit on the first page and makes you read on hungrily to discover the how and why.
reviewed The Secret History on + 9 more book reviews
tried reading this, but just couldn't get into it.
reviewed The Secret History on + 243 more book reviews
A chilling psychological thriller.
reviewed The Secret History on + 6 more book reviews
Dark and mysterious with surprising twists. Enjoyed it more than once.
reviewed The Secret History on + 32 more book reviews
Could not put this book down its scary,funny,and sad all in one
reviewed The Secret History on + 120 more book reviews
Enjoyed this much more than "The Little Friend," but this was far from perfect. TONS of loose ends, plus the main characters get away with murder- literally- and don't seem too remorseful. This book unfolds slowly with a great deal of foreshadowing. I feel I did not catch all the clues or hints sprinkled throughout and I plan to reread this again.
One of the more interesting aspects of this book is the "time warp" feeling; even though the events take place over a year, time seems to be stagnant. THis is further emphasized by the fact many of the main characters dress, speak and act like they are from another decade, if not another century. The exact timeframe of the novel is never disclosed, though it is probably the 1980's (or before cell phones became popular).
reviewed The Secret History on + 75 more book reviews
A 19 year old gets into a small college in New England and becomes friends with a group of five Greek scholars. He finds out about a secret that happened to those friends and is drawn into their circle. Interesting book but a bit long.
reviewed The Secret History on + 77 more book reviews
friendship, arrogance and murder.
reviewed The Secret History on + 34 more book reviews
loved this when i read it but honestly can't remember it
reviewed The Secret History on + 167 more book reviews
Didn't read....