|Bennington College, Vermont, author Donna Tartt's alma mater|
I finished Donna Tartt's The Secret History last week. What an interesting book.
I blogged about it a bit when I featured it in a First Chapter-First Paragraph, but it really deserves its own post as well although I seem unable to form a coherent theme to write about so I'll just share some random thoughts.
The Secret History reminded me somewhat of A Separate Peace--a similar academic setting but the characters in The Secret History are older (in college not high school), though not necessarily more mature. And there were shades of Lord of the Flies (another book from my sophomore year of high school)--it's an examination of what happens when children (and the young adults in The Secret History, despite their facade of independence are little more than children) are left to run amok.
It's a fairly dark book, with a motley collection of interesting but mostly amoral characters who drink to excess. Honestly, with the amount of drinking in this book, I was amazed that any of the main characters remained alive by novel's end. That makes me sound like an old fuddy-duddy, but I was amazed by how much hard liquor these 20-year-olds could consume without suffering from alcohol poisoning.
It seems I can't read a book anymore without it reminding of another book and this book reminded me of lots of books, apparently...but it did also remind me of Rebecca by Daphne du Maurier in that the hero commits murder and the reader really wants him to get away with it.
I was surprised by the lackluster ending. Those of you who have read the book might be surprised to find that I found the ending lackluster, but I had envisioned so much more. ***SPOILER: I thought that the professor of the classics students, Julian, was more involved in the murder. I thought of him as a catalyst or Dionysus figuring who actively but covertly urged his students to experiment with madness. In the end, he was just a weak man who really viewed his role as more of a hobby than a responsibility.
I did think this a pretty interesting novel--I didn't fall in love with it, and I'm not sure I would reread it--but it was definitely an interesting premise and well-crafted novel.
Here's a good review of it in The Guardian and the comments following the article are worth reading--they run the gambit from "greatest book ever" to "tedious and shallow." I'm in the ever-ambiguous "interesting" category.
The is the sixth book in my TBR Pile Challenge for 2014. Making headway!