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The Secret History Audiobook

The Secret History

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Publisher's Summary

The smartest murder-mystery you will ever hear.

A misfit at an exclusive New England college, Richard finds kindred spirits in the five eccentric students of his ancient Greek class. But his new friends have a horrific secret. When blackmail and violence threaten to blow their privileged lives apart, they drag Richard into the nightmare that engulfs them. And soon they enter a terrifying heart of darkness from which they may never return.

Penguin Audiobooks presents Donna Tartt's cult thriller The Secret History, complete, unabridged, and read by the author.

©1992 Donna Tartt (P)2010 Penguin Books Ltd

What the Critics Say

"Haunting, compelling, brilliant." (The Times)

What Members Say

Average Customer Rating

3.9 (50 )
5 star
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3 star
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Overall
4.0 (31 )
5 star
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3 star
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2 star
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1 star
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Story
3.9 (31 )
5 star
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4 star
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3 star
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2 star
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1 star
 (3)
Performance
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  •  
    Meg Reno, NV, United States 01-11-11
    Meg Reno, NV, United States 01-11-11 Member Since 2012
    HELPFUL VOTES
    7
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    "Not worth it"

    Although the story could have kept me involved, having the author narrate was a HUGE mistake. Not only did she not narrate well but the fact that the main character was a male and she is a female was very off putting. The author should NEVER narrate their own books!

    3 of 4 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Amazon Customer 03-11-17 Member Since 2017
    ratings
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    2
    2
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    "Disturbing but delicious."

    This is my boyfriends favorite book and now it's one of my favorities too! I thoroughly enjoyed it, from start to finish! I found the story and characters interesting. The plot was disturbing but that's what was so great about it! Donna Tartt has to be credited on how she writes, her descriptions are stunning and her style is intriguing. I would definitely recommend this book.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Harriet Morris 11-05-16 Member Since 2017
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    2
    2
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    "My Favourite Book"

    Was a bit doubtful that the author wanted to read it as she is female and the narrator male. What was I worried about? An excellent audio version of a stunning novel especially how she does dialogue

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    M. J. Walsh Canberra, Australia 09-13-16
    M. J. Walsh Canberra, Australia 09-13-16 Member Since 2012
    ratings
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    7
    7
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    "A compelling, magical experience"
    Would you recommend this audiobook to a friend? If so, why?

    For anyone interested in the art of writing and the engagement of the reader's imagination this book is a must. At its base narrative level it has been characterized as a sort of superior murder conspiracy thriller playing out in the context of elite scholarship and mysterious alliances at a small New England college. True enough, but it's also so much more than that. Like all the best works of fiction, it expands from its premise to become a richly imagined, unique world of its own. Sure, at times it is uneven, but it is also a book that left me feeling bereft when I finished it. Structured as an outsider's memoir by a writer, now years older, looking back to an earlier time in his life, it mixes morality play, philosophical speculations, a witty critique of mores and class - to name a few of its perspectives - and does so without sacrificing the creation of characters that are vividly present and alive. And these people are not two dimensional. Not at all. They are as strange and unpredictable, as dull and as funny, as fascinating and as disappointing as those around us really are. Death is present, but this book is really about life and the profound mystery we are to ourselves. Finally, as its ultimate pleasure, this recording offers Donna Tartt's deliciously seductive and nuanced reading of her own work. A magical experience. Highly recommended.


    What other book might you compare The Secret History to and why?

    Donna Tartt's next book "The Little Friend" has some similarities, but it is also very different in other ways. It is more uneven than "The Secret History" and, at times, it does seem over written but there are moments and characters that are truly unforgettable. A book with highs I will never forget. Ever.

    As a work that is also structured as an outsider's memoir, my memory of Robert Pirsig's "Zen And The Art of Motorcycle Maintenance" is that it has a similar narrative tone when compared to "The Secret History". But it is quite a few years since I read it.


    Have you listened to any of Donna Tartt’s other performances before? How does this one compare?

    No, I've not heard her do any other readings.


    If you could take any character from The Secret History out to dinner, who would it be and why?

    I'd like to have dinner with Donna Tartt. That would be so interesting and it would be real.


    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Stephanie 01-31-11
    Stephanie 01-31-11
    HELPFUL VOTES
    3
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    32
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    "Dislike- overly long and pointless"

    The first part could have been eliminated and the rest of it could be sped up. I tried to get into this but I could not.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Fiona Glenside, PA, United States 01-18-11
    Fiona Glenside, PA, United States 01-18-11 Member Since 2010
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    "Why?"

    I havn't finished this book yet, but I am just so frustrated that I had to say something. I may have enjoyed reading the book, but I am not enjoying listening to the author's voice. Why oh why did the publisher let a woman narrarate a story told by a man? When I first realized the main character, who is telling the story in first person, was a man, I knew I was in for a long and tedious listen. I hope I can finish it. I am very disappointed and feel that I have been duped.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Cynthia Freeman Oregon 11-22-10
    Cynthia Freeman Oregon 11-22-10 Member Since 2002

    cfreeperson

    HELPFUL VOTES
    7
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    "Interesting Book"

    I thought this book was rather better than the other reviewers did. It probably could have been tightened up a bit without damage but I thought the characters were well drawn and the plot was interesting. The narrator did an OK job but she seemed to get mixed up a bit with ascribing East coast accents to the Californian protagonist in places.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Esther Robina, Australia 11-16-10
    Esther Robina, Australia 11-16-10
    HELPFUL VOTES
    50
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    16
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    3
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    "The Secret History"

    I'm really battling to finish this audio book. its a good story but soooooo long and drawn out. I think the writer should have got a male to read because its mostly men in the story with the odd female here and there. I also find the readers voice extremely distracting and the various voices nasally.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Marjory Bloomington, IL, United States 11-09-10
    Marjory Bloomington, IL, United States 11-09-10 Member Since 2016
    HELPFUL VOTES
    28
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    "ok book."

    This book had all the elements of being great, but fell short. The characters were all the same self centered brats who I really had a hard time caring about. The plot went round and round and went no where. Starts off strong then you soon relize its a waste of time.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
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  • kisag_queen
    Stockport, United Kingdom
    6/11/14
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "Author, yes. Narrator, NO!"
    What would have made The Secret History better?

    I think a male narrator would have been more appropriate for this story, as nearly all the characters are men.


    How would you have changed the story to make it more enjoyable?

    It could have done with being about half the length. Cut quite a few hours out and I think it would improve the story, which is diluted, over-long and too full of self importance.


    Would you be willing to try another one of Donna Tartt’s performances?

    Absolutely not. This was the worst performance I have yet heard on Audible. My husband actually thought it was a text to speech output! Monotonous, droning, with terrible accent and pronunciation. Also some badly edited sections where the book suddenly stops and restarts.


    What character would you cut from The Secret History?

    Any number of extraneous characters could (and should?) be removed from the book to help it maintain focus on the main characters and plot. In the end all the characters became loathsome and of little consequence.


    Any additional comments?

    The basic plot and main characters are interesting, but way too much rambling insignificant detail served only to irritate rather than ingratiate them to the reader. Deeply disappointed and couldn't be more different from the excellent "The Goldfinch".

    4 of 4 people found this review helpful
  • Tom
    West Wickham, United Kingdom
    1/26/11
    Overall
    "fine book & fine narration"

    This is a very fine and enjoyable book. The author shows great skill in creating a tense, claustrophobic and paranoid atmosphere and in hooking to reader into wanting to know what happens to the fairly unlikeable, self-obsessed group of dysfunctional students.

    Unlike some other reviewers, I was pleasantly surprised at how good Donna Tartt was at reading her own book. I too am way about authors reading their own books: writing and narrating are different skills not often found in the same person. Donna Tartt is however an exception. I too have listened to the Adam Sims version, and whilst it is undoubtedly better, I think the author in an odd sort of way better gets under the skin of the main characters - not surprisingly perhaps as she wrote the book! She doesn't maintain the tension and the narrative flow in the same way, possibly because the recording is a bit disjonted - breaks are fairly obvious - but I wouldn't let that put you off. but have a listen to the sample first to make sure you're happy as it is quite a long book.

    12 of 14 people found this review helpful
  • Simon Bird
    10/25/16
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "Great story but...."

    This is an epic tale, very well crafted and expertly plotted. Unfortunately, as others have already said, the author's narration does not match her writing and I found some stretches quite tedious. It is quite a depressing book but the tension of the key moments is brilliantly done and makes up for the occasional tedium in between. Having also read/listened to The Goldfinch, the style is similar and the characters equally unsympathetic. Nevertheless, I would recommend.

    3 of 3 people found this review helpful
  • Phil C
    Bedford, England
    1/5/14
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "The only book I have never finished."

    I have downloaded 95 books from Audible over the past few years and this is the only one on which I have given up. I found Donna Tartt's narration flat, monotonous and grating and the book very slow paced. A triumph for the author's vanity over the listener's enjoyment. It's supposed to be a fantastic plot but frankly, my dears, I ended up not giving a damn! Life's too short....

    3 of 3 people found this review helpful
  • Dr
    5/26/11
    Overall
    "A marmite book"

    You will either love this book or hate it. The crime is revealed in the prologue and the remaining narrative is devoted to the build up to and aftermath of the inevitable.It is unbelievably slow, I had to struggle to continue to listen at times. The female voice for the main male character I could overcome, but the almost overwhelming detail was offputting and added little. However I became gripped by the claustrophobic relationships and isolated life on an American college campus and did stick with it to the end. Perhaps reserve this one for a long road trip,a flight to Australia or when you have a long rainy weekend's home decorating and many hours to fill.

    7 of 8 people found this review helpful
  • Maria
    United Kingdom
    1/21/11
    Overall
    "Brilliant book, terribly badly read"

    Donna Tartt is a fabulous writer. She is a poor reader though, although she adopts the flat monotone favoured by US narrators (particularly authors) convincingly enough. It isn't inspiring though, just boring - and, as mentioned in other reviews here, not a patch on the wonderful Adam Sims version, which you should try to get hold of if you can.

    27 of 33 people found this review helpful
  • S
    United Kingdom
    3/12/14
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "Author - Narrator"

    It was fascinating to hear Donna Tartt read her own work. Plus side - intimacy and a feeling of how the author perceives her novel. Down side - she has a very limited repertoire of 'voices' and can become monotonous.

    The story of a close-knit group of college students under the spell of their Greek tutor and of each other, losing touch with reality and plunging ever deeper the more they try to dig their way out is fascinating and absorbing. On balance I might have preferred an abridgement (the number of times people take a drink or smoke a cigarette becomes endless) and the plot flags a few times but overall it was very enjoyable.

    6 of 7 people found this review helpful
  • AvidReader
    12/9/16
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "A deeper understanding of this great book"

    I listened to this book while I couldn't read after surgery. I have enjoyed reading it before but I felt I got a different perspective on the characters by listening to it rather than reading it. I liked that it was the author reading it, I liked that the speech inflections, tone, etc of the characters was how she meant them to be. A wonderful book in a good format

    2 of 2 people found this review helpful
  • BrianH
    9/19/16
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "Not sure I can continue listening"
    If this book wasn’t for you, who do you think might enjoy it more?

    Only those people who wrote reviews praising Donna Tartt's narration. To me her performance is so off-putting that after only two hours I'm not sure I'll continue. She's the wrong sex for a first-person male narrator, her character voices sound silly and child-like, and her own straight author voice is monotonous.


    Would you be willing to try another book from Donna Tartt? Why or why not?

    I've already listened to her books, in reverse order, and got great enjoyment from both The Goldfinch and The Little Friend as read by professional actors. It seems there is an old audio version of The Secret History narrated by the actor Adam Sims that was released on cassette and CD. It's now very rare and expensive. I don't have a lot of time to read actual books or ebooks, but I may have to find the time if I want to complete the Donna Tartt set.


    Who might you have cast as narrator instead of Donna Tartt?

    Not sure who would be a good alternative narrator as, to my shame, I never remember the names of the actors whose works I enjoy and I don't have time to look them up now.


    What reaction did this book spark in you? Anger, sadness, disappointment?

    Disappointment, but only in the narration. I'm interested in the story, though the beginning is rather long-winded.


    Any additional comments?

    Authors, unless they are also skilled and experienced voice artists, should never narrate their own work.

    2 of 2 people found this review helpful
  • Tony
    LETCHWORTH GARDEN CITY, United Kingdom
    9/14/16
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "Good story, but didn't warm to the characters"

    Really engaging story, and well read by the author, but I found myself disliking all the characters and not really caring what happened to them, other than hoping that something did happened. Don't get me wrong, it's a really good book, but compared with the goldfinch, where I really liked the protagonist, this was a bit lacking. still, Ms Tartt set the bar bloomin' high with that book, so to compare is unfair.

    2 of 2 people found this review helpful

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