Review: Is “The Secret History” a modern classic? [MUSE]

Review: Is The Secret History a modern classic? [MUSE]

Kate Loper

As I stroll through the local Barnes and Noble, which is conveniently five minutes from my house, I am on the hunt for the perfect autumn book. I pick up many different books, all seeming too similar. I become disheartened, as this is going to be a failed book journey. I then come across a book I have heard of before but never really paid much attention to: The Secret History by Donna Tartt. As I begin to read the description of the book I am pulled to it, and end up purchasing it. As I started reading it, I was entranced by the literary world in New England that Tartt was able to create in a 576 page book. 

I read this book in about two weeks, a pretty good time for me to finish a book of this length. Once I got about 100 pages into this book, I couldn’t put it down. I actually finished this book on the floor of my room, which is really saying something especially coming from me as I hate reading on my floor. 

The Hampden College that the book characters attend is one of many mysteries. In general, Vermont is a very sparsely populated state, allowing for some aspects of mystery to lie in the quiet New England towns. Every word you read of this book, you never saw coming. I tried to make some predictions while reading this novel, but I simply could not. All predictions were thrown out of the window and replaced with something I could have never dreamed Tartt could have come up with. 

This book is the true “autumn” book. Although it takes place during all the seasons, it gives off a very warm lighted feeling that I can only tie to the season of fall. Along with the mystery aspect of it, it leaves you feeling unsettled in a way I can also only trace to fall. 

Tartt’s writing is also impeccable. Personally, I have a hard time reading classics, just because the old English vocabulary makes me bored and I always lose where I am in the book and end up reading the same passage over and over again. Tartt somehow uses an elevated way of speaking and wiring and messes it into one, I am able to cohesively read through the book without annoyingly stopping fourteen times on one page trying to decipher what it was saying. This is what makes the story so good, as if it was written poorly with poor word choice it would not have the same impact as it does.

The Secret History by Donna Tartt is a true modern classic, and all readers should eventually read this book at some point in their lives. This book became one of my all time favorite novels, and I will forever recommend it to everyone, even if they are not avid readers.

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