Richard Papen arrives at Hampden College in Vermont determined to leave behind his drab past and reinvent himself as a wealthy socialite. He meets a group of students who are everything he wants to be but, in order to remain part of the group, he must keep their murderous secret. "Penguin Readers" is a series of simplified novels, film ...Read MoreRichard Papen arrives at Hampden College in Vermont determined to leave behind his drab past and reinvent himself as a wealthy socialite. He meets a group of students who are everything he wants to be but, in order to remain part of the group, he must keep their murderous secret. "Penguin Readers" is a series of simplified novels, film novelizations and original titles that introduce students at all levels to the pleasures of reading in English. Originally designed for teaching English as a foreign language, the series' combination of high interest level and low reading age makes it suitable for both English-speaking teenagers with limited reading skills and students of English as a second language. Many titles in the series also provide access to the pre-20th century literature strands of the National Curriculum English Orders. "Penguin Readers" are graded at seven levels of difficulty, from "Easystarts" with a 200-word vocabulary, to Level 6 (Advanced) with a 3000-word vocabulary. In addition, titles fall into one of three sub-categories: "Contemporary", "Classics" or "Originals". At the end of each book there is a section of enjoyable exercises focusing on vocabulary building, comprehension, discussion and writing. Some titles in the series are available with an accompanying audio cassette, or in a book and cassette pack. Additionally, selected titles have free accompanying "Penguin Readers Factsheets" which provide stimulating exercise material for students, as well as suggestions for teachers on how to exploit the Readers in class.Read Less
could not put this down, or when I just had to,
could not stop thinking about it. Have now read
all three of her books, and each had they same
"hold" on me. I am not a big fan of novels, so
I found this to be surprising.
Nov 29, 2007
Wow, WOw and WOW!
I have read this book many times and even bought an audio version.It brings to life the supposed "glamour" that many of us feel exists in elite prep schools.If we harbor any envy of students in such privileged curcumstances we find that it dissapates quickly as the sad and seedy undercurrent of their lives becomes revealed.The character development is excellent and the conspiratory tone of the narrator draws the reader right in. I couldn't put this book down.I was sorry when the book was finished .I miss the characters!
Aug 30, 2007
Brilliant - worth hearing over and over again/ Having the author read the text is priceless and adds a great deal to an already excellent novel. Five stars plus.
Apr 3, 2007
The Greatest Novel of the 20th Century
To me, the best kinds of books are the ones that you can read year after year, and always find something new. A good book has to captivate you with it's plot and characters, while also dazzling your senses with it's style. That's why I think this may be the greatest novel of the 20th Century. I know it seems like a ridiculous claim, but once you've read this book, I'm sure you'll agree.
Donna Tartt's THE SECRET HISTORY is part psychological thriller, part college memoir, and part Greek mythology. It's unlike any book I've ever encuntered. It grips you from it's opening line, and it doesn't let go until the very last page.
The story follows an elite group of college students studying Greek at a small college in New England. A murder is committed, and the college students have to try and outwit the authorities in order to save their own skins. The book is very long, but it moves at an incredible pace to it's climax. It is a modern masterpiece of suspense and mystery.
That's not to say the book is without flaws. Many people think that this book tries to be like Umberto Eco in style, that Tartt's book falls short of the intellectual heights she is trying to achieve with all of her allusions to the ancient Greeks. Some people think this book is pretentious, or that the plot is just to improbable.
I bought my first copy of this book 6 years ago, and I think I've read the book at least 10 times by now. It's rare that a book can move a person so forcefully. This book is something very special. You will put the book down, but the characters will stay in your mind long after you've finished the book.
Publishers Weekly, 1993-09-27 . Entertaining, evocative first novel; 12 weeks on PW 's bestseller list. (Oct.)
Publishers Weekly, 1992-06-29 Tartt's much bruited first novel is a huge (592 pages) rambling story that is sometimes ponderous, sometimes highly entertaining. Part psychological thriller, part chronicle of debauched, wasted youth, it suffers from a basically improbable plot, a fault Tartt often redeems through the bravado of her execution. Narrator Richard Papen comes from a lower-class family and a loveless California home to the ``hermetic, overheated atmosphere'' of Vermont's Hampden College. Almost too easily, he is accepted into a clique of five socially sophisticated students who study Classics with an idiosyncratic, morally fraudulent professor. Despite their demanding curriculum (they quote Greek classics to each other at every opportunity) the friends spend most of their time drinking and taking pills. Finally they reveal to Richard that they accidentally killed a man during a bacchanalian frenzy; when one of their number seems ready to spill the secret, the group--now including Richard--must kill him, too. The best parts of the book occur after the second murder, when Tartt describes the effect of the death on a small community, the behavior of the victim's family and the conspirators' emotional disintegration. Here her gifts for social satire and character analysis are shown to good advantage and her writing is powerful and evocative. On the other hand, the plot's many inconsistencies, the self-indulgent, high-flown references to classic literature and the reliance on melodrama make one wish this had been a tauter, more focused novel. In the final analysis, however, readers may enjoy the pull of a mysterious, richly detailed story told by a talented writer. 75,000 first printing; BOMC and QPB selections. (Sept.)
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