In this brilliant debut novel, Donna Tartt gives us a richly textured and hypnotic story of golden youth corrupted by its own moral arrogance.
Richard Papen had never been to New England before his 19th year. Then he arrived at Hampeden College and quickly became seduced by the sweet, dark rhythms of campus life - in particular by an elite group of five students; Greek scholars, worldly, self-assured, and at first glance, highly unapproachable.
Yet as Richard was accepted and drawn into their inner circle, he learned a terrifying secret that bound them to one another; a secret about an incident in the woods in the dead of night where an ancient rite was brought to brutal life...and led to a gruesome death. And that was just the beginning.
©2002 Donna Tartt; (P)2002 HarperCollins Publishers, Inc.
"A mysterious, richly detailed story told by a talented writer." (Publishers Weekly)
"An enthralling story....The Secret History is addictive. Chances are you won't be able to listen just once." (AudioFile)
"Powerful....Enthralling....A ferociously well-paced entertainment." (The New York Times)
"Tartt's voice is unlike that of any of her contemporaries. Her beautiful language, intricate plotting, fascinating characters, and intellectual energy make her debut by far the most interesting work yet from her generation." (The Boston Globe)
If I had known Bunny in high school, he would have never made it to college. I would have already killed him and his annoying leeching ways before any ACT or SATS. I thought the book was well written and was easy to follow. However, the clique of scholars was annoying, and drank like a UT fraternity during Greek Week…. but they did it daily. That would explain the lack of brain cells that made these Greek scholars refer so often to Dante, an Italian writer. The narrator did not annoy me as she has some others. She created the characters and I feel she knew what their voice should be. This one is one you either like or hate. All of its faults considered, I liked it.
It doesn't seem to ever be a good idea to read your own work. I took a chance, and just couldn't listen to this. The narration is so off-putting as to be distracting (to me, anyway). An interesting premise that might have been a good story, but I just couldn't get past the presentation.
The author is a terrible reader. It was a constant challenge to remember that the main character was supposed to be a young man. Listening to Donna Tartt read this book drove me crazy and I finished it only because a friend had recommended the book and I wanted to get to the end of it. It was an overlong story about a group of drug addicted alcoholics.
The narrator's (author's) voice ruined this one for me. The story was interesting and well-researched if rather farfetched. However, I couldn't get past the fact that neither voice nor accent matched who the characters were supposed to be. I'd read it, not listen to it.
I usually shy away from books "Read by the Author," and this book is one of the reasons why. It took me over an hour to figure out that the main character was male (the author is female & not very good at portraying masculine characters.) In addition, I just got depressed, because all the characters seemed to be completely overcome with ennui. Finally, after about five hours, I decided to pack it in. I simply don't care how Bunny died.
I absolutely love audiobooks. There is simply nothing like having someone read you an engrossing story; not to mention you can get things done while you listen. I always have one on the go.
This book was just superb. The story was extremely strong and engrossing. If, like me, you are a murder mystery fan but appreciate a long in depth story with good character development and realistic human relationships this book is for you.
Angela's Ashes was the rare novel that came to vivid life when read by author Frank McCourt. The Lacuna, when read by author Barbara Kingsolver became stilted and tedious. Unfortunately the same occurred when Donna Tartt chose to narrate her own book. I couldn't make it past the first few chapters. She's so monotone and depressing I could barely pay attention to the words. Then to finally realize that the main character, narrating the story is male.... well, that did it. I couldn't listen to another word. I've heard such great things about this book from others who have read it. Wasn't there an editor or friend who could have warned her off making such a dreadful mistake?
This was a complete waste of my credit.
I am relatively new to the audiobook scene, but I don't need a lot of audio listens under my belt to recommend this book. The plot is fascinating and the characters so well developed. The author's narration is excellent...I was disappointed when the 21 hours were over. Every aspect of this selection was a winner.
I've listened to more than half of this book, and I had to take a break. Unbelievable and unlikable characters, combined with a very slow moving story, topped off with a terrible narrator, made it easy to set this one aside for a while. I would eventually like to know how it ends, but maybe I'll just get the print version from the library and skim the rest.
I don't understand why the author is narrating the story. The story is "told" by a male character, and most of the other characters are male as well. The author's attempt to pull off all the male voices is distracting and annoying.
I don't recommend this audiobook, and I'm sorry I wasted a credit on it.
I liked this audiobook much more than I expected to - in fact I just finished listening to it a second time. I've read THE SECRET HISTORY as a book and was doubtful about having the author doing the narration: in my experience, there are good readers and good writers and not many people who are both. Donna Tartt is one of those few. Her natural accent is engaging in the descriptive passages, and she makes the different characters voices in dialogue distinguishable without resorting to violent changes in pitch and pattern. A couple of her character voices (Bunny and Julian) are a smidge over-drawn, but it's not distracting because although they are both major characters, they have among the fewest lines of dialog.
And that brings me to what I like so much about the way the book is written. Its absent influences are really compelling (Richard's parents, for example, and Leo the landlord) are significant players whom we never actually meet. They're described, and they're quoted in the third person, but they never appear to speak for themselves. This literary device is rarely sucessful, but as Donna Tartt deploys it, it works a treat.
Similarly, the unreliable narrator -- Richard -- is compelling. Again, this device is tricky and often transparent, but Tartt works it skilfully.
The majority of the novel is dark-ish and thinky, but there are a couple passges that are laugh out loud funny: the feral cat on the long car ride, for example, and the "test your illicit drug knowledge" game show scene. Dark humor indeed. Those bits might not be to everyone's taste, but they had me laughing helplessly.
I could nitpick -- there are a few asides in foreign languages that aren't translated, and that's annoying as heck, and the novel ends about four times (just when you think it's done there's another coda, and that goes on for about 20 minutes) and these quibbles cost the book a star. Overall, though, I think this one's well worth your time and credit.
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