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The Monster She Wrote Podcast

Jul 26, 2022

We are back from our brief hiatus, and in this episode, we welcome writer and academic Crystal O'Leary Davidson! Make sure to check out her short fiction. 

In Donna Tartt’s The Secret History Richard Papen recounts his ill-fated time at Hampden College in Vermont. A second-year transfer from California, Richard, middle class and awkward amongst his privileged peers, becomes fascinated with a group of students studying under the mysterious Julian Morrow, a Professor of Classics. At first, Richard is denied entry into Julian’s Classics curriculum. Julian is extremely selective. But after Richard has a serendipitous encounter with the group translating in the library, Julian allows Richard to join his classes. Richard’s fellow students, the twins, Camilla and Charles Macaulay, Francis Abernathy, Edmund “Bunny” Corcoran, and the brilliant Henry Winter, have formed an insular group that further constricts when four of them take their studies too far. The fall-out from this accident leads to the murder of Bunny Corcoran. This isn’t a spoiler. Richard reveals the murder and the murderers at the beginning of the novel. What follows is an exploration of why Bunny was killed and how evil begets evil, until all is infected and ruined. As Richard tells us in the prologue’s conclusion: “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.”

Recommended in this episode: comfort Star Wars watches and Catriona Ward novels (also discussed: The Once Upon A Time At Bennington podcast)

UP NEXT: Carmen Maria Machado’s The Low Low Woods

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Our social media is @MonsterWrote on Twitter and Instagram. Our email is This episode was produced and researched by Lisa and Mel. Theme music is “Misconception” by Nicolas Gasparini, used with permission.