Thursday, 19 March 2015

The Secret History - Donna Tartt

I don't often talk about what I'm reading. There's a weird sense, when you're a Published Author, that reviewing other people's books can be disingenuous, so whilst I'll often give space to other authors here or retweet their links to their books on Twitter, it feels weird to just write a blog that's like, "look, I fucking love this book and I want you to love it to, okay?" Especially if I know that author.

But I don't know Donna Tartt, so I have no problems saying, "I fucking love The Secret History and I want you to love it too, okay?"

This is a book I'd never have discovered if not for a particular Tumblr blog I follow, which regularly posts art inspired by the book. The aesthetic of these pieces caught my eye, as did the quotes that often accompanied the art, so I checked the book out. The blurb is pretty irresistible to me - classics students, murder, secrets within secrets - and I picked it up immediately...and then read six or seven other books and sort of forgot I'd bought it. Then I read a story that was so awful it made me angry and decided to give The Secret History a shot because it was a totally different genre. I figured it would make a good palette cleanser.

And oh my god, I am in love! Gorgeous prose, vivid settings, unforgettable characters, twists, turns, the slow unravelling of what you as the reader think you know...This book is perfect. The kind of book I wish I could read again for the first time. When I finished the book this morning, I immediately wanted to start it again. I feel sad for myself that I won't get to experience this book again the same way - slowly discovering the secrets of the characters and learning what makes them tick. At the same time, I feel excited to re-read and look deeper, look for things I hadn't noticed the first time round. This is such a multi-layered story, I feel like you really, really need to read it again and again. This is the kind of book I would have loved to pick apart for my English degree and write a million essays on. The themes are rich and complex - how and why good people do bad things, how friendships are made, torn part and remade, the lengths we will go to in order to protect ourselves, and how flexible morality can become - deserve a lot more attention than I have time to give them here.

But sadly I definitely don't have time for it and also I'm not doing an English degree anymore, so I'm just going to settle for saying here: I fucking love this book and you should too.

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