A cloistered group of intellectual college students. A murder. The aftermath. The Secret History dazzles with intelligent turns of phrase and dense writing, and doesn't care if you like its characters.
This novel has such an iconic first sentence.
The snow in the mountains was melting and Bunny had been dead for several weeks before we had begun to understand the gravity of our situation.
Doesn't that scream to be read? I read it and went, alright, time to strap in. We're in for a good one. And this book follows its iconic first line with an expertly crafted novel.
I won't pretend that that the pacing was perfect—for anyone who's read this, you'll probably agree that it was long. And even if it doesn't take you too long to read, the intense mental musings of the main character, Richard, are so rambling at times and deviate into interesting memories so frequently that it often feels like you're living this multiple-month story with him. In detail. Play by play.
This is definitely not a "who-dun-it" novel, but a "why-dun-it." We know from the jump that this tight-knit group of friends murdered one of their own one crisp spring morning. What we don't know is why, and what happens to them afterward.
The Secret History has two parts, the "before" the murder in Part 1, and the "after" the murder in Part 2. I strongly preferred Part 1, as the suspense was more important—we knew Bunny was going to die, but when? and why? I loved that level of guessing. Once things evolved....eh, it was definitely more of a struggle. I felt the author lost some of the momentum as the tone of the novel shifted into more of a Crime and Punishment vibe.
But, regardless, I loved it. Beautifully written, lovingly crafted.
Amy Imogene Reads
Just someone looking for her own door into Wonderland.