Book Club Books / Carol / Friday Afternoon / Literary Fiction / Psychological

The Secret History by Donna Tartt

Bunny dies at the start of the book. We know how but not why. Who was invovled, why he seemingly had to die, and what were the consequences create the rest of the story. Narrated by Richard, an intelligent but not always smart California transplant to a small Vermont college, the story unfolds from his appearance at the start of this tragedy. For this is a tragedy in the most ancient, classical way as anything by Sophocles or other Greek playwrights.

Classics professor Julian teaches of small group of scholars. His unorthodox methods add to his charismatic appeal for all these six (including Richard) minds. They are immersed not only in the ancient Greek language, but its very culture and philosophy. They are enamored of it as only young, bright, disillusioned minds can become.

When an attempted Bacchanal goes severely wrong, their world starts spinning out of control. Without any parental ethical examples, they are stumbling in a moral fog. Unconsciously, the ancient world and its codes of conduct, along with its feelings of inevitability, surface and the story plays out as if preordained by Olympus’ gods.

Donna Tartt’s The Secret History is an old story in a modern setting and as beautifully written as any epic. Her choice of phrase and use of language are exquisite. This book is dark, but who doesn’t feel the pull of that world sometimes? This is the time to indulge it.

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