Because I thought The Goldfinch was so wicked I went headlong into Donna Tartt’s previous book The Secret History, practically slathering with anticipation. Of course, as is usually the case when you have such high expectations, it definitely wasn’t as good. So if you’re new to Donna Tartt like I am, then I’d totally read The Secret History first, because it will only get better from there. If someone had never eaten a steak before I’d advise them not to go and use up all their joy at The Hawksmoor. Baby steps and all that.
This book reminded me a lot of that early Peter Jackson film where a 16 year old Kate Winslet makes friends with some stalker-ish chubby kid and things get out of hand and they end up murdering someone with a brick. Even more disturbingly, I think that film was based on a true story. Pretty chilling stuff. So what I’m trying to say is that The Secret History is all about ‘weird group of kids gone and done a murder’.
In the first chapter we learn that a young college student Bunny, met his maker following a fatal ‘hiking accident’, which clearly translates as ‘someone pushed him’ since the narrator is racked with guilt. Eventually the plot unfolds around a bunch of quirky school friends who all meet on a secretive Ancient Greek course.
I love the weirdness of it all. The characters are great. Apparently Tartt came up with the story during her relationship with the author of one of my most hated books of all time (American Psycho), Brett Easton Ellis. So when it comes to freaky characters she clearly had a very well informed companion to bounce ideas off.