Donna Tartt's The Secret History is the original American campus novel. When Richard Papen joins an elite group of clever misfits at his New England college, it seems he can finally become the person he wants to be.
Donna Tartt was educated at the University of Mississippi and Bennington College, and is the author of a second novel, The Little Friend. She lives in Mississippi and New York City.
. Entertaining, evocative first novel; 12 weeks on PW 's bestseller list. (Oct.)
This well-written first novel attempts to be several things: a psychological suspense thriller, a satire of collegiate mores and popular culture, and a philosophical bildungsroman. Supposedly brilliant students at a posh Vermont school (Bennington in thin disguise) are involved in two murders, one supposedly accidental and one deliberate. The book's many allusions, both literary and classical (the students are all classics majors studying with a professor described as both a genius and a deity) fail to provide the deeper resonance of such works as Umberto Eco's The Name of the Rose . Ultimately, it works best as a psychological thriller. Expect prepublication hype to generate interest in this book and buy accordingly. Previewed in Prepub Alert, LJ 5/1/92.-- Charles Michaud, Turner Free Lib., Randolph, Mass.