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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

Critic reviews

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

What members say

Average customer ratings

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  • 4 out of 5 stars
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  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars
  • mj
  • 06-09-16

An interesting tale

I found this to be an interesting tale, with a good pace, well written characters and a satisfying end.
I did not like the narration though....the story is from a male point of view yet is read by a female. Also I felt the narrator lacked a certain emotional edge to her voice BUT as she is also the author maybe that is as she wanted it to be?

9 of 9 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    3 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars

Great story but....

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.

16 of 17 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    1 out of 5 stars
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    2 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    1 out of 5 stars

Such a disappointment after the Goldfinch

Would you try another book written by Donna Tartt or narrated by Donna Tartt?

I would buy a book but I found the southern drawl of the narrator irritating and grating although I am not American so this may colour my impression

What will your next listen be?

Probably it was Ready Player One

How did the narrator detract from the book?

The accent was annoying (see previous comment)

What character would you cut from The Secret History?

Not sure I can answer this, I didn't really get a feel for each character. Probably I shouldn't have bought this book - certainly if I hadn't loved the Goldfinch so much I might not have.

Any additional comments?

The hook at the beginning of the story seems to have been stuck on as an afterthought - the structure of the story seemed a bit off.

7 of 7 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Tom
  • West Wickham, United Kingdom
  • 26-01-11

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.

21 of 23 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars

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

5 of 5 people found this review helpful

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    4 out of 5 stars
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    4 out of 5 stars
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    4 out of 5 stars
  • S
  • 12-03-14

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.

11 of 12 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    1 out of 5 stars
  • Maria
  • United Kingdom
  • 21-01-11

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.

36 of 42 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars
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    4 out of 5 stars

Good story, but didn't warm to the characters

Really engaging story, and well read by the author, but I found myself disliking all the characters and not really caring what happened to them, other than hoping that something did happened. Don't get me wrong, it's a really good book, but compared with the goldfinch, where I really liked the protagonist, this was a bit lacking. still, Ms Tartt set the bar bloomin' high with that book, so to compare is unfair.

4 of 4 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
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    3 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars

amazing book

Absolutely loved this, could not wait to sit down and read/listen along to the audiobook every day. narration is not bad either

4 of 4 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
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    2 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars

authors should stick to writing

Great story well told but irritated by flat delivery....authors reading their own books not a great idea.

8 of 9 people found this review helpful

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    5 out of 5 stars
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  • Harriet Morris
  • 05-11-16

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

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars
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  • M. J. Walsh
  • 13-09-16

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.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    3 out of 5 stars
  • Esther
  • 16-11-10

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.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    1 out of 5 stars
  • Meg
  • 11-01-11

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!

6 of 10 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars
  • Ray Bowring
  • 16-06-18

Spellbinding

Loved Donna Tartt's narration - perfect for the story.
Had me hooked. Enthralling, extraordinary, excellent.

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars
  • Philip Jurjevich
  • 06-01-18

My favourite book

I love this book and the quality of Donna Tartt's writing . Judy Poovey, Princess the Cat the magical descriptions . I have read this book 8 times and lived 9 lives because of what it has added. Pretty stressful year for me and this audiobook was such a wonderful escape I am now feeling great. It deals with the whole parade and puts up some sweet possible destinations that may be the culmination of our stories.

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars
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  • Amazon Customer
  • 11-03-17

Disturbing but delicious.

This is my boyfriends favorite book and now it's one of my favorities too! I thoroughly enjoyed it, from start to finish! I found the story and characters interesting. The plot was disturbing but that's what was so great about it! Donna Tartt has to be credited on how she writes, her descriptions are stunning and her style is intriguing. I would definitely recommend this book.

  • Overall
    2 out of 5 stars
  • Stephanie
  • 31-01-11

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.

  • Overall
    1 out of 5 stars
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    1 out of 5 stars
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    1 out of 5 stars
  • Fiona
  • 18-01-11

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.

  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Cynthia Freeman
  • 22-11-10

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.