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
"Haunting, compelling, brilliant." (The Times)
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!
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.
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.
No, I've not heard her do any other readings.
I'd like to have dinner with Donna Tartt. That would be so interesting and it would be real.
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.
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.
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.
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.
"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.
"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.
"Usually I enjoy the author reading their work but"
Usually I enjoy the author reading their work but it makes the characters seem more feminine than male making it distracting when the main character is male and so are Usually I enjoy the author reading their work but in this case all except for the minor female presence in the story. the story was entertaining but a bit long for a fairly simple developments with no mallor twists.feme
feminine, soft, pleasant
"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.
"oh so so clever"
Wonderfully original constructed story of a plot to commit the perfect murder. A group of four highly priveledged University students are influenced by their studies of ancient Greek. Seen through eyes of the one member of the group who is the disadvantaged outsider. Riveting. An absolute page turner.
"Gripping and atmospheric"
I had read the book years ago and had forgotten just what a detailed and multi-layered story it is. The six main characters are so well written, and subtle differences in their personalities come together so well. Donna Tartt's reading of her book verges on a monotone at times, but somehow this adds to the atmosphere, as the extraordinary events come from quite ordinary beginnings. I listened to this on the way to and from work every morning, and I just couldn't switch off my mp3. It really is riveting.
"The Secret History"
Why oh, oh why do authors feel they can narrate their own books. Here in The Secret History is an excellent example of how bad it can be. Particularly with the main character being male narrated by a woman. With all the hype of this book and I was hugely disappointed and could only make it half way, and even then it was a struggle.
"One of the Best!"
Would 100% recommend this book. I read it when it first came out and when I saw it was available on Audible jumped at the chance to listen to it.
Fantastic murder-mystery story, but with a really surprising twist.
The only thing that slightly bothered me was Donna Tartts narration, as the main character in the book is male.
But other than that: do give this a go, I doubt you'll regret it - I for one am terribly upset that I have come to the end and know I will not find anything as engaging again for a while. And where is Donna Tartts second novel?
"forgotten how great this is"
ok - she only does one every ten years, but well worth the wait!
detail and characterisation brilliant - she has a knack of creating a dangling suspense. as in 'the little friend' we are made aware of the murder, the story's focus, at the very beginning. it's the shifting psychological sands that make it so gripping. please stock the little friend in unabridged too please!
"Obscure and slow - like Ancient Greek poetry"
Not sure what to make of this one.To begin with it is read by the author (a woman) trying to sound like a 20-year-old guy. Her reading is monotonous and why on earth you would get a woman to read the sole male narrator is beyond me. She has no characterisation either in her voice nor in her writing. The story has some promise and there are definitely some highlights, students studying Greek in wintry Vermont with an obscure Professor. However the victim of the murder is revealed on the first page as is his killer. So for the next 21 hours of audio we are drawn into the shallow, weird and meaningless world of Vermont undergrads. The telling is artless and the characterisation is particularly shallow. The plot is not brilliant, there is little tension but just plenty of he said, she said, bla, bla, bla. There is so much promise in the novel: the setting is fantastic, the crime is interesting and the milieu is intriguing. But the promise is deflated by emotionless writing which contains little creativity and less art. Not recommended.
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