Ancient languages, intimate classroom settings, and a binding secret of murder. All of these are present in one of Donna Tartt’s earlier works, The Secret History.
As a reminiscence from the limited perspective of Richard Papen, a Hampden student studying the Classics with Julian Morrow, The Secret History follows the six students in Julian’s Classics courses, which are part of the college, yet still a school all unto itself as these six students are essentially secluded from the rest of their classmates. With the death of Edmund Cochran, a.k.a. Bunny, his fellow Classics classmates are simultaneously drawn closer together to keep their secrets while being torn asunder from within, shifting their unique dynamic forever.
Consistent with her other works, the language is beautiful, despite being a tad too flowery and overly verbose, creating an unnecessary tome. The story is an interesting concept–a little reminiscent of both Dead Poet’s Society and Jawbreaker. Additionally, being consistent with her other narratives, it is difficult to find the actual time setting of the story. Some aspects of the description place the story in the 60s while others place it in the late 80s or early 90s. Honestly, it was frustrating to not have a firm grasp on just when events were taking place. Not to mention that there were inconsistencies in descriptions, such as Henry described as both slight and large.
Overall, I’d give it a 3 out of 5 stars.