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The Secret History Audiobook

The Secret History

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Publisher's Summary

The smartest murder-mystery you will ever hear.

A misfit at an exclusive New England college, Richard finds kindred spirits in the five eccentric students of his ancient Greek class. But his new friends have a horrific secret. When blackmail and violence threaten to blow their privileged lives apart, they drag Richard into the nightmare that engulfs them. And soon they enter a terrifying heart of darkness from which they may never return.

Penguin Audiobooks presents Donna Tartt's cult thriller The Secret History, complete, unabridged, and read by the author.

©1992 Donna Tartt (P)2010 Penguin Books Ltd

What the Critics Say

"Haunting, compelling, brilliant." (The Times)

What Members Say

Average Customer Rating

4.0 (878 )
5 star
 (401)
4 star
 (244)
3 star
 (145)
2 star
 (46)
1 star
 (42)
Overall
4.2 (652 )
5 star
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4 star
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3 star
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2 star
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1 star
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Story
3.9 (652 )
5 star
 (288)
4 star
 (159)
3 star
 (111)
2 star
 (46)
1 star
 (48)
Performance
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  •  
    Tom West Wickham, United Kingdom 26/01/2011
    Tom West Wickham, United Kingdom 26/01/2011 Member Since 2011
    HELPFUL VOTES
    923
    ratings
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    144
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    Overall
    "fine book & fine narration"

    This is a very fine and enjoyable book. The author shows great skill in creating a tense, claustrophobic and paranoid atmosphere and in hooking to reader into wanting to know what happens to the fairly unlikeable, self-obsessed group of dysfunctional students.

    Unlike some other reviewers, I was pleasantly surprised at how good Donna Tartt was at reading her own book. I too am way about authors reading their own books: writing and narrating are different skills not often found in the same person. Donna Tartt is however an exception. I too have listened to the Adam Sims version, and whilst it is undoubtedly better, I think the author in an odd sort of way better gets under the skin of the main characters - not surprisingly perhaps as she wrote the book! She doesn't maintain the tension and the narrative flow in the same way, possibly because the recording is a bit disjonted - breaks are fairly obvious - but I wouldn't let that put you off. but have a listen to the sample first to make sure you're happy as it is quite a long book.

    12 of 14 people found this review helpful
  •  
    kisag_queen 11/06/2014
    kisag_queen 11/06/2014
    HELPFUL VOTES
    26
    ratings
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    38
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    Story
    "Author, yes. Narrator, NO!"
    What would have made The Secret History better?

    I think a male narrator would have been more appropriate for this story, as nearly all the characters are men.


    How would you have changed the story to make it more enjoyable?

    It could have done with being about half the length. Cut quite a few hours out and I think it would improve the story, which is diluted, over-long and too full of self importance.


    Would you be willing to try another one of Donna Tartt’s performances?

    Absolutely not. This was the worst performance I have yet heard on Audible. My husband actually thought it was a text to speech output! Monotonous, droning, with terrible accent and pronunciation. Also some badly edited sections where the book suddenly stops and restarts.


    What character would you cut from The Secret History?

    Any number of extraneous characters could (and should?) be removed from the book to help it maintain focus on the main characters and plot. In the end all the characters became loathsome and of little consequence.


    Any additional comments?

    The basic plot and main characters are interesting, but way too much rambling insignificant detail served only to irritate rather than ingratiate them to the reader. Deeply disappointed and couldn't be more different from the excellent "The Goldfinch".

    3 of 3 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Phil C 05/01/2014
    Phil C 05/01/2014 Member Since 2007
    HELPFUL VOTES
    5
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    13
    11
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    "The only book I have never finished."

    I have downloaded 95 books from Audible over the past few years and this is the only one on which I have given up. I found Donna Tartt's narration flat, monotonous and grating and the book very slow paced. A triumph for the author's vanity over the listener's enjoyment. It's supposed to be a fantastic plot but frankly, my dears, I ended up not giving a damn! Life's too short....

    3 of 3 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Maria United Kingdom 21/01/2011
    Maria United Kingdom 21/01/2011
    HELPFUL VOTES
    26
    ratings
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    1
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    "Brilliant book, terribly badly read"

    Donna Tartt is a fabulous writer. She is a poor reader though, although she adopts the flat monotone favoured by US narrators (particularly authors) convincingly enough. It isn't inspiring though, just boring - and, as mentioned in other reviews here, not a patch on the wonderful Adam Sims version, which you should try to get hold of if you can.

    26 of 32 people found this review helpful
  •  
    S 12/03/2014
    S 12/03/2014 Member Since 2013
    HELPFUL VOTES
    10
    ratings
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    6
    6
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    "Author - Narrator"

    It was fascinating to hear Donna Tartt read her own work. Plus side - intimacy and a feeling of how the author perceives her novel. Down side - she has a very limited repertoire of 'voices' and can become monotonous.

    The story of a close-knit group of college students under the spell of their Greek tutor and of each other, losing touch with reality and plunging ever deeper the more they try to dig their way out is fascinating and absorbing. On balance I might have preferred an abridgement (the number of times people take a drink or smoke a cigarette becomes endless) and the plot flags a few times but overall it was very enjoyable.

    6 of 7 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Dr 26/05/2011
    Dr 26/05/2011 Member Since 2016
    HELPFUL VOTES
    40
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    118
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    "A marmite book"

    You will either love this book or hate it. The crime is revealed in the prologue and the remaining narrative is devoted to the build up to and aftermath of the inevitable.It is unbelievably slow, I had to struggle to continue to listen at times. The female voice for the main male character I could overcome, but the almost overwhelming detail was offputting and added little. However I became gripped by the claustrophobic relationships and isolated life on an American college campus and did stick with it to the end. Perhaps reserve this one for a long road trip,a flight to Australia or when you have a long rainy weekend's home decorating and many hours to fill.

    6 of 7 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Patricia Aberystwyth, Ceredigion, United Kingdom 07/10/2010
    Patricia Aberystwyth, Ceredigion, United Kingdom 07/10/2010 Member Since 2013
    HELPFUL VOTES
    90
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    "forgotten how great this is"

    ok - she only does one every ten years, but well worth the wait!

    detail and characterisation brilliant - she has a knack of creating a dangling suspense. as in 'the little friend' we are made aware of the murder, the story's focus, at the very beginning. it's the shifting psychological sands that make it so gripping. please stock the little friend in unabridged too please!

    9 of 11 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Annie Twickenham, United Kingdom 04/10/2010
    Annie Twickenham, United Kingdom 04/10/2010
    HELPFUL VOTES
    48
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    "oh so so clever"

    Wonderfully original constructed story of a plot to commit the perfect murder. A group of four highly priveledged University students are influenced by their studies of ancient Greek. Seen through eyes of the one member of the group who is the disadvantaged outsider. Riveting. An absolute page turner.

    12 of 15 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Amazon Customer 09/12/2016 Member Since 2016

    juliedickson

    HELPFUL VOTES
    2
    ratings
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    1
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    "A deeper understanding of this great book"

    I listened to this book while I couldn't read after surgery. I have enjoyed reading it before but I felt I got a different perspective on the characters by listening to it rather than reading it. I liked that it was the author reading it, I liked that the speech inflections, tone, etc of the characters was how she meant them to be. A wonderful book in a good format

    2 of 2 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Lollipopchina Croydon, Surrey,UK 13/11/2016
    Lollipopchina Croydon, Surrey,UK 13/11/2016 Member Since 2017
    HELPFUL VOTES
    2
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    3
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    "Gripping story perfect narrator"

    Probably the best book I have ever read and the audiobook did not disappoint. Donna Tartt is the perfect narrator, she really makes the story come alive!

    2 of 2 people found this review helpful
Sort by:
  • Meg
    Reno, NV, United States
    11/01/11
    Overall
    "Not worth it"

    Although the story could have kept me involved, having the author narrate was a HUGE mistake. Not only did she not narrate well but the fact that the main character was a male and she is a female was very off putting. The author should NEVER narrate their own books!

    2 of 2 people found this review helpful
  • Harriet Morris
    05/11/16
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "My Favourite Book"

    Was a bit doubtful that the author wanted to read it as she is female and the narrator male. What was I worried about? An excellent audio version of a stunning novel especially how she does dialogue

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • M. J. Walsh
    Canberra, Australia
    13/09/16
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "A compelling, magical experience"
    Would you recommend this audiobook to a friend? If so, why?

    For anyone interested in the art of writing and the engagement of the reader's imagination this book is a must. At its base narrative level it has been characterized as a sort of superior murder conspiracy thriller playing out in the context of elite scholarship and mysterious alliances at a small New England college. True enough, but it's also so much more than that. Like all the best works of fiction, it expands from its premise to become a richly imagined, unique world of its own. Sure, at times it is uneven, but it is also a book that left me feeling bereft when I finished it. Structured as an outsider's memoir by a writer, now years older, looking back to an earlier time in his life, it mixes morality play, philosophical speculations, a witty critique of mores and class - to name a few of its perspectives - and does so without sacrificing the creation of characters that are vividly present and alive. And these people are not two dimensional. Not at all. They are as strange and unpredictable, as dull and as funny, as fascinating and as disappointing as those around us really are. Death is present, but this book is really about life and the profound mystery we are to ourselves. Finally, as its ultimate pleasure, this recording offers Donna Tartt's deliciously seductive and nuanced reading of her own work. A magical experience. Highly recommended.


    What other book might you compare The Secret History to and why?

    Donna Tartt's next book "The Little Friend" has some similarities, but it is also very different in other ways. It is more uneven than "The Secret History" and, at times, it does seem over written but there are moments and characters that are truly unforgettable. A book with highs I will never forget. Ever.

    As a work that is also structured as an outsider's memoir, my memory of Robert Pirsig's "Zen And The Art of Motorcycle Maintenance" is that it has a similar narrative tone when compared to "The Secret History". But it is quite a few years since I read it.


    Have you listened to any of Donna Tartt’s other performances before? How does this one compare?

    No, I've not heard her do any other readings.


    If you could take any character from The Secret History out to dinner, who would it be and why?

    I'd like to have dinner with Donna Tartt. That would be so interesting and it would be real.


    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • Stephanie
    Grand prairie, TX, United States
    31/01/11
    Overall
    "Dislike- overly long and pointless"

    The first part could have been eliminated and the rest of it could be sped up. I tried to get into this but I could not.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • Fiona
    Glenside, PA, United States
    18/01/11
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "Why?"

    I havn't finished this book yet, but I am just so frustrated that I had to say something. I may have enjoyed reading the book, but I am not enjoying listening to the author's voice. Why oh why did the publisher let a woman narrarate a story told by a man? When I first realized the main character, who is telling the story in first person, was a man, I knew I was in for a long and tedious listen. I hope I can finish it. I am very disappointed and feel that I have been duped.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • Cynthia Freeman
    Oregon
    22/11/10
    Overall
    "Interesting Book"

    I thought this book was rather better than the other reviewers did. It probably could have been tightened up a bit without damage but I thought the characters were well drawn and the plot was interesting. The narrator did an OK job but she seemed to get mixed up a bit with ascribing East coast accents to the Californian protagonist in places.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • Esther
    Robina, Australia
    16/11/10
    Overall
    "The Secret History"

    I'm really battling to finish this audio book. its a good story but soooooo long and drawn out. I think the writer should have got a male to read because its mostly men in the story with the odd female here and there. I also find the readers voice extremely distracting and the various voices nasally.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • Marjory
    Bloomington, IL, United States
    09/11/10
    Overall
    "ok book."

    This book had all the elements of being great, but fell short. The characters were all the same self centered brats who I really had a hard time caring about. The plot went round and round and went no where. Starts off strong then you soon relize its a waste of time.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful

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