I’m currently sitting in my armchair, previously staring at the blank wall ahead of me, trying to come to terms with the last 100 or so pages I have just finished. Everything about this book was so different and so unexpected to what I thought, yet exactly the kind of Donna Tartt book I love.

With The Goldfinch being one of my favourite books, a colleague of mine recommended this. It was always a book I heard a lot about but never picked it up.

Its beginning is a slow-burner, quietly easing you into the world of the rich, privileged students of Hampden and entering the world of a group of students solely studying the even more exclusive Greek class. While The Goldfinch caught my attention from the beginning and held onto it, it took me a while to really appreciate The Secret History as I was reading.

However, the vital part of my enjoyment from this book was its structure. From the prologue, you are fully aware of what is about to happen in the book, therefore, adding an intensity to the book’s atmosphere as you wait patiently for that event to actually happen and see its aftereffects. And boy, is it tense. The last hundred pages suddenly rank this pressure up, making it both enjoyable and sometimes uncomfortable to read as you watch for the pressure to built up and up.

The book reminded me a lot of The Great Gatsby (my all-time favourite book) – Richard is very much like Nick Carraway, observing and largely idolising and admiring those around him. Tartt’s vivid writing also adds that romantic, immersive touch that I always appreciate from Fitzgerald’s writing too. It was nice to read a similar kind of novel that felt like it wasn’t trying to be like The Great Gatsby either.

The writing is incredible (I kept reading passages out to my boyfriend because I thought they were to great) and the characters are purposefully bittersweet, manipulating your emotions and opinions about them throughout.

I loved this book a lot. I think I still prefer The Goldfinch, but Donna Tartt is now firmly one of my favourite authors. What an incredible book…

I give it a 5 out of 5


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