21 May
Originally titled The God of Illusions Vintage Contemporaries/a Division of Random House, Inc.  Soft cover 2004 thriller fiction - 559 pages Original hardcover publication by Alfred A. Knopf a division of Random House, inc., 1992

  Originally titled The God of Illusions Vintage Contemporaries/a Division of Random House, Inc.
Soft cover 2004 thriller fiction – 559 pages
Original hardcover publication by Alfred A. Knopf
a division of Random House, inc., 1992

Detailed character study blends with a richness of element in this psychological tale of friendship and murder in a dystopian setting that becomes the pompous and pretentious in an underlying condescension of the upper crust. This first novel is uniquely bold and a well written story of a murder-in-reverse*. It unravels in the telling as the reader already knows the Who, What and Where of it, but relishes in the When and Why as the pages turn, almost on their own.

This is a story about Richard Papen, Camilla and Charles Macaulay, Edmond (Bunny) Corcoran, Francis Abernathy, and Henry Winter, students attending a small Liberal Arts College in Vermont who become embroiled in their own self imposed inebriations and murder. Richard Papen is our narrator – the less fortunate of the six in terms of affluence. They are part of an ancient Greek class taught by Professor Julian Morrow: “I hope we‘re all ready to leave the phenomenal world, and enter into the sublime?”

This is not just a story about the snobbish academics who murder. It’s about an author who has kept her privacy private. And whom, I am told sotto voce, has modeled the characters in this book after some of her college literary brat pack friends from Vermont‘s Bennington College. Don’t know how much truth there is to this, but one thing is certain, some ‘facts’ will forever remain as mysterious as the author herself. Fascinating



Donna Tartt (1963 – ) has published three fictional novels over the span of three decades: The Secret History published in 1992 translated into 24 languages; The Little Friend in 2002 garnered the WH Smith Literary Award, and The Orange Prize for Fiction shortlist- both in 2003; and, The Goldfinch published in 2013 winning her the Pulitzer Prize for fiction in 2014.

I am in love with words. Words in any language, including the Dead Languages of Greek and Latin used throughout the book (this is what I loved most about The Secret History), no explanation, no translation. Just the reader’s imagination sparked-on by the words that boggle the psyche whilst scrambling for a connective meaning. This cult classic, as it were, will sear your brain, and bleed your genius. A book you will either love or hate ….. I fear there is no in-between. Greek Mythology is something that not everyone will enjoy. But I certainly did.

“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.”

*labeled by critic A.O. Scott


5 Responses to “THE SECRET HISTORY”

  1. Cathy746books May 21, 2014 at 8:59 p05 #

    Great review for a great book…

    • WORDMAN May 21, 2014 at 8:59 p05 #

      Thank you Cathy.

  2. Lady Fancifull June 27, 2014 at 8:59 p06 #

    A lovely and mysterious review for a lovely and mysterious book


  1. THE LITTLE FRIEND | WORDMAN - July 21, 2014

    […] suppose the brilliance of The Secret History so blinded me that I just missed the luster of what was supposed to be The Little Friend (?). Or […]

  2. THE GOLDFINCH | WORDMAN - November 3, 2014

    […] who has written three books, in long-hand, over the span of three decades – give or take: The Secret History 1992; The Little Friend 2002; and this one, The Goldfinch […]

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