What I’ve been reading – The Secret History by Donna Tartt

The Secret HistoryThe Secret History by Donna Tartt
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Worth the hype. A narrator who is unreliable to himself, secrets that loom up out of mist and you think NO IT CAN’T BE and yet it is. The most intense descriptions of sensory experience, so that you shiver and feel the snow and taste the cream cheese and marmalade sandwiches and lose your mind in ritual ecstasy, too… The nineties’ college vibe is gloriously evoked, it’s like you’re in a Doug Liman film or The Last Days Of Disco. Until you’re not, and you realise you’ve been led up the garden path into a different world altogether, one much less plasticky and cheerful. One with no ironic distance from events, one with real danger and real horrors and irrevocable consequences.

There’s a Looney Toons element to the dénouement: a rapid escalation and degeneration of events, where you desperately want some sane adult to take control and establish a narrative where everyone gets redeemed and everyone gets a do-over. But the adults – especially the hapless, nice, well-meaning Sicilian-American detective – want to believe that these kids are nice kids. That what they suspect can’t possibly be so.

But nice kids can do terrible things, and there’s no redemption here.

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