The Secret History

Yes, the “Dickensian” Donna Tartt. I started with her earlier work, and will be reading the much praised Goldfinch later this year. This book was devour-able in one big gulp. Kid from California ends up at a ritzy Vermont college with an elite group of wealthy students studying Greek and the Classics. Murder ensues. Coverups, cigarettes, cocaine, letters from dead Bunny, people perpetually on the verge of a nervous breakdown. Some of my favorite scenes were inexplicably those where the narrator, Richard, is living for a few months in January/February in a space without heat and with a hole in the ceiling, during the coldest winter in years. He gets pneumonia, shocker, and Henry (one of the Greek Classic students) saves him. Other characters: Camilla/Charles the twins (who sleep together), Francis (gay with trust fund), and Bunny (absolutely poor, but raised with expensive taste), Julian the teacher. Judy the red corvette driving dorm mate who helps Richard frequently. The murder happens when Henry et al are attempting to reach nirvana vis a vis fasting and then getting wasted. They accidentally kill a neighbor farmer. When Bunny finds out, he will not let up, hounding the rest of the group, becoming unhinged, and has to be pushed off a ravine. Charles is nearly off’d by Henry because H is sleeping with Camilla and so is Charles. Tawdry stuff, but very page-turnable.