Book Review #69 – The Secret History, by Donna Tartt

Hello readers!

I decided to venture into a very different read for me. Today I’ll talk about my thoughts on The Secret History (pt. A História Secreta), by Donna Tartt.


Donna Tartt came to my attention a few years ago, when her book, The Goldfinch, took the world by storm. The sheer size of her works always gave me anxiety since, recently, me and big books don’t really get along. But The Secret History is pretty much on the top 10 of all my friends! That was reason enough to make me want to get the book! And it was available on the library so, win win!

The author of this book is almost a mystery. She doesn’t have that many interviews and even then she doesn’t share a lot. I didn’t even know she was american until I read the little biography included in this edition! She writes a book every decade, only having three published so far. But that doesn’t stop her from having several awards and incredible praise in all of the books.


This particular title focus on Richard Papen, who leaves his California home to go study in Vermont. He then enrols in Greek and meets a very peculiar group of five people. They are a very closed group, and even more so, when something terrible happens and needs to stay a secret.

What most popped out from this book to me was the writing. Oh boy, is it beautiful and poetic. The author so well guides us through the read, I could read 100 pages without even moving from my seat once! There’s not a lot of things happening in this book but they take their time do be told. They are portrait with such detail and carefulness.

There’s a beautifully constructed atmosphere in this book. It’s so mysterious and dark. I couldn’t help but feel uneasy while reading it and almost immerse in permanent (and maybe not that metaphorical) mist! I was constantly tense and wondering when things would go wrong.

Because that’s the general feel during the whole books. You know bad things will happen soon. And I guess that’s because every single character is pretty much a terrible person, just asking for trouble. I truly disliked everyone, specially Camila. But I got the same unsettling feeling for everyone (except from maybe Richard, the protagonist).

My only problem with this book was the first part. Although I read it in a breeze, it was very very slow. And everything important that happen was told to us by someone, the narrator (which is the protagonist) isn’t present in anything. This is my biggest pet peeve in books lately. I want to experience everything, not hearing from it. But the second part is very very good! It’s so addicting! And I loved the ending! Everyone got what they deserved.

Anyway, I’m so thrilled to read Tartt’s other two books now! The library has them all so when I stopped being scared by the size of them, I’ll definitely pick them up! I’m most curious for The Goldfinch, of course.

One of my favourite quotes and that perfectly describes this book is:

Beauty is terror. Whatever we call beautiful, we quiver before it.

Tell me if you’re read this and what you though of it!

See you soon,




4 thoughts on “Book Review #69 – The Secret History, by Donna Tartt

  1. Great review! I read this book during my uni years and recall almost missing an essay deadline as I was reading this rather than my history books! Totally engrossing. My mum has The Little Friend, think I might pinch it of off of her…


  2. Okay, so this comment may be word vomit so bear with me:
    First of all, I AM SO HAPPY SOMEONE READ THIS. Ugh. I remember reading it in a cold December (it was perfect) and I flew through the beast in TWO DAYS. I was so engrossed in the story, and the despicable characters and the writing that I could NOT put it down. You can sort of tell Donna Tartt is a genius when you think about how this is a mystery, but not really. You know there’s a murder and you know who does it FROM THE VERY FIRST PAGE, but you’re still flipping through the pages to get to the core of it all. How does she do it? NO CLUE, but it’s the greatest.
    I feel you on the despicable characters front. They’re all such terrible people. I was sympathetic towards Richard because he was the quintessential “I want to fit in but I’m a loser” type, but even he went in a downwards spiral. Personally, my favorite character was Francis. He was so… flamboyant and charming. He was also, perhaps, the most redeemable from among the rest, don’t you think?
    Also, I’m curious: there’s a huge chunk in the middle where Richard is just stuck in uni, freezing to death and it’s pages and pages long. What did you think of it?

    LAST THING: The Goldfinch is good, but not as good as this one, imo. The Little Friend is my least favorite of her books because nothing really happens in it LOL. But it’s very atmospheric and beautifully written, and the characters feel like real people. But again, it’s HUMONGOUS and nothing really happens.



      yeah, I agree with you on Francis. his “ending” kinda touched me? he was probably the least despicable of the group!
      I basically flied through that chunk so I didn’t really feel the true size of it! I mean, I was completely in a transe by then. like, literally. so I just devoured page after page.
      I will keep that in mind 😀 but I’ll probably go with The Goldfinch then!!


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