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
"Haunting, compelling, brilliant." (The Times)
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.
I think a male narrator would have been more appropriate for this story, as nearly all the characters are men.
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.
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.
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.
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".
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....
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.
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.
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!
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.
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
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!
This is an epic tale, very well crafted and expertly plotted. Unfortunately, as others have already said, the author's narration does not match her writing and I found some stretches quite tedious. It is quite a depressing book but the tension of the key moments is brilliantly done and makes up for the occasional tedium in between. Having also read/listened to The Goldfinch, the style is similar and the characters equally unsympathetic. Nevertheless, I would recommend.
"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!
"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
"A compelling, magical experience"
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.
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.
No, I've not heard her do any other readings.
I'd like to have dinner with Donna Tartt. That would be so interesting and it would be real.
"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.
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.
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.
"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.
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.
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