Book Review: The Secret History by Donna Tartt

This book was unputdownable. Intensely addictive. Thrilling. Philosophically and aesthetically deliberate—as is every Tartt novel. Privilege illustrated to an engrossing degree—glaringly elevating rich white entitlement and classism within the hallowed halls of even the most revered American educational institutions.

How the perception and power of youth and events surrounding that experience evolve with time and hopefully, wisdom. How one story can indelicately frame your entire life—some of us more so than others; please keep this in mind while reading.

I love how Tartt wraps her narratives around the humanities. She adorns the most elegant of this knowledge and those peers within—thoughtful, creative, intellectual, learned—and compels understanding and empathy and beauty in all its defects.

“Beauty is rarely soft or consolatory. Quite the contrary. Genuine beauty is always quite alarming.”

“Does such a thing as ‘the fatal flaw,’ that showy dark crack running down the middle of a life, exist outside literature? I used to think it didn’t. Now I think it does. And I think that mine is this: a morbid longing for the picturesque at all costs.”

“Some things are too terrible to grasp at once. Other things – naked, sputtering, indelible in their horror – are too terrible to really grasp ever at all. It is only later, in solitude, in memory that the realization dawns: when the ashes are cold; when the mourners have departed; when one looks around and finds oneself – quite to one’s surprise – in an entirely different world.”

“Forgive me, for all the things I did but mostly for the ones that I did not.”

“I suppose the shock of recognition is one of the nastiest shocks of all.”

“Love doesn’t conquer everything. And whoever thinks it does is a fool.”

— Donna Tartt, The Secret history

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