The Secret History of Donna Tartt is a Writer’s Idea of ​​Holiday Reading – Laura Waddell

Donna Tartt’s The Secret History is a clever thriller about a tight-knit group of Greek students on a historic New England campus (Photo: Bas Czerwinski/ANP/AFP via Getty Images)

The reason? As I was writing it at the time, I was determined not to read anything that came with a copy submission deadline wedged between its pages: nothing, that is, what I had scheduled for review.

What is a party in the book industry if not a break with the tyranny of publication dates? I glanced at the jumble of publisher’s proofs on my desk and the pile of mail shaped like a book I hadn’t yet opened, and decided I’d pick up a classic on thumb.

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The story of the Penguin Books business has repeated itself often enough to deserve the status of a modern fable: in 1934, responding to the shoddy and overpriced selection of the book stand at Exeter St David’s station, the he publisher Allen Lane pioneered the paperback revolution by making good books. attractive and affordable for ordinary workers on the go – as they should be.

It was a book about penguins that I finally picked up, rummaging through the shelves until my hand landed on The Secret History by Donna Tartt, often imitated but never bettered. Having already read it once, when I was a student, I knew it was a success and I had always intended to return to it.

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Book Review: The Goldfinch

A clever thriller, The Secret History tells the story of a tight-knit group of students of Greek, semi-isolated from the rest of their historic New England campus by the intensity of their classes — and by snobbery.

Yearning for the fates and furies of legend, their hedonism emerges not in the familiar way of drugs, sex and student partying – but in murder.

In what is, for my money, his best novel, Tartt created a fascinating and memorable group of co-conspirators. There’s bumbling Bunny Corcoran, cut off from the family fortune and dependent on others to foot the bill for the lunches he unabashedly invites them to; rich, will never have to work Henry, dedicated to the study of the ancient world to a degree of madness; and narrator Richard, from Plano, Calif., who watches these rich kids with horror – and complicity.

Campus novels from the past few years seem a little damp in comparison.

Lucas E. Kelly