“I suppose at one time in my life I might have had any number of stories, but now there is no other. This is the only story I will ever be able to tell.” — Richard Papen in Donna Tartt’s The Secret History
The title might make one think, this book must be about some historical mystery, revealed now. But, it is far from that. It is a psychological thriller, set up in college environment of today, where drugs, and sex rules. But in this book, they just form the backdrop of high octane drama, which shake lives of all characters in it.The title fits aptly, as it is about intertwined lives of seven characters of a classical Greek class, six students and one teacher at a liberal arts college in
The story is narrated from the eyes of a character called Richard Papen, who has chosen to study in Hampden, because he liked their catalogue. On his arrival he found out that there is a very famous Greek teacher over here named, Julian Marrow, but he teaches only five students in one session and for this session, he already has five. But, with his efforts, he finally succeeds getting into the elite classroom and meets other characters, Charles, Camilla, Edmund “Bunny”, Francis and Henry. However, as the story unfolds, Richard founds that there is more than meets the eye, apparently Henry, Francis, Charles and Camilla has killed a person during their attempt on a ritual called Bacchanal, of worshipping the Greek god of revelry Dionysus and Edmund has come to know about this secret of theirs and has been blackmailing him ruthlessly. Four of them devise a plan to kill Edmund and also involve Richard with them. Story takes turns thereafter but, it’s more of intriguing turn of events then something unexpected happening out of nowhere. The story moves ahead, with further revelations of threads woven between characters.
Since, the story was written from a narration viewpoint, there always was a chance that narrator might reveal too much, but as it turns out, narrator to discovers along with the reader, and never invents anything. The drama and thrill move hands in hands and not for a second, one overshadows other.
It’s one of those can’t-put-it-down thrillers, which will keep you on edge every moment.
——————— Adarsh Shrivastava