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The Little Friend (Audiobook On 20 C Ds)

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From the author of THE SECRET HISTORY comes a dark, suspenseful novel of lost childhood. Harriet Dusfresnes is a child in Mississippi, haunted by the murder of her brother when she was just a baby. He was found hanging from a tree in their backyard; his killer was never identified, nor did the family ever recover. Only Harriet's teenage sister might have seen what happened From the author of THE SECRET HISTORY comes a dark, suspenseful novel of lost childhood. Harriet Dusfresnes is a child in Mississippi, haunted by the murder of her brother when she was just a baby. He was found hanging from a tree in their backyard; his killer was never identified, nor did the family ever recover. Only Harriet's teenage sister might have seen what happened that day, and she has blocked it out from her memory. Harriet grows up immured by the family's lasting grief, living mostly in a world of her own imagination. But her dead brother Robin is a link to lost happier times. Therefore, in the summer of her twelfth year, she decides to find his murderer and exact her revenge...


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From the author of THE SECRET HISTORY comes a dark, suspenseful novel of lost childhood. Harriet Dusfresnes is a child in Mississippi, haunted by the murder of her brother when she was just a baby. He was found hanging from a tree in their backyard; his killer was never identified, nor did the family ever recover. Only Harriet's teenage sister might have seen what happened From the author of THE SECRET HISTORY comes a dark, suspenseful novel of lost childhood. Harriet Dusfresnes is a child in Mississippi, haunted by the murder of her brother when she was just a baby. He was found hanging from a tree in their backyard; his killer was never identified, nor did the family ever recover. Only Harriet's teenage sister might have seen what happened that day, and she has blocked it out from her memory. Harriet grows up immured by the family's lasting grief, living mostly in a world of her own imagination. But her dead brother Robin is a link to lost happier times. Therefore, in the summer of her twelfth year, she decides to find his murderer and exact her revenge...

30 review for The Little Friend (Audiobook On 20 C Ds)

  1. 4 out of 5

    Barry Pierce

    The only thing keeping this novel together is the binding.

  2. 5 out of 5

    tee

    Currently reading this one and all I can think of is a passage from a writing-fiction manual that I read. The guy who wrote the article said that he once wrote a whole book and his publisher told him that it was good back-story, it was good for the AUTHOR to get to know his characters so when he wrote about them - they'd be 3D and real but it wasn't necessary for the readers to know most of the stuff that was written. You can remove a lot of the bulk from that first draft and keep it to yourself Currently reading this one and all I can think of is a passage from a writing-fiction manual that I read. The guy who wrote the article said that he once wrote a whole book and his publisher told him that it was good back-story, it was good for the AUTHOR to get to know his characters so when he wrote about them - they'd be 3D and real but it wasn't necessary for the readers to know most of the stuff that was written. You can remove a lot of the bulk from that first draft and keep it to yourself in your notes. Things such as the character's births, clothing preferences, favourite foods and colours, hates, loves and so on. Tartt's work reminds me of that ... so many of the pages that are unnecessary, there's so much that could have been cut out but the thing is, I enjoy it. I really do. I wouldn't like it if every book that I read was as verbose and wandering as Tartt's, but I do so enjoy reading something like this on occasion. It reminds me of how much I enjoy language and the craft of beautiful sentence-structure, description ... how much I've always enjoyed story-telling about people and their surroundings. -------------- I finished this book last night and when I read the final sentence, my mouth dropped open slightly, the book dropped from my hand onto the floor and I rolled over, squeezing my eyes shut in hopes that I would go immediately to sleep and not come on Goodreads and spew forth wtf's. This woman knows how to write. She's great at it. But she goes frickin' NOWHERE with ANY of it. It's unbelievable! So unbelievable that I spent the entire book literally saying out loud, Oh.My.God, in reference to her superb ability to spew forth wonderfully crafted sentences and paragraphs about nothing. NOTHING! Anyone that can write an entire book about nothing is some type of wonderbeast. Don't get me wrong, I'm not attacking her for this - I'm really just astounded at her mad skills at weaving elaborate, wandering tales. I even thought, dude, this has to building up to some climatic ending and holy shit, if you ever get that far you will probably have the same astounded expression on your face as I did. There were so many times in this book while I was reading that I said to myself in my head: This.Lady.Is.Unfuckingbelievable. Four, five, TEN pages could pass without anything happening. YOU COULD SCRAP THESE PAGES and not know any better. Get someone to do that, get someone to rip every other ten pages out and you will never know what you have missed, plot-wise at least. There were sooo many moments where I'd be like, dude, how is this even relevant or necessary? WHY CAN'T I STOP READING?! The entire book; waffle. Amazingly crafted prose that goes nowhere. I felt like I was having to force myself through some of it, even though I was interested. I just wanted things to regularly happen and when they didn't, I got restless. I'd measure how much I had left to go and groan. Sometimes I'd pick my book up and realise that I was holding it upside down yet I'd been staring at the page for a minute or two. Sometimes I realised I'd written a to-do list in my head, planned dinner, said the alphabet backwards and counted to 100 in French whilst having turned four or five pages. I slept, ate and drank whilst holding this book open and staring at the page through my eyelids. But at the same time, I felt this inner battle, this conflict because I was bored BUT I WAS JUST SO GOD DAMN INTERESTED. It is a massive pile of words. Tasty, heavy, Southern-saturated wordy goodness. This entire review; waffle. Poorly constructed sentences that are trying to make a point. Something to do with too much sleep, not enough caffeine on rising. I won't be forgiven, but Tartt will. ------------------- Besides from ranting about Tartt's waffle - which another reviewer describes as this book being a 'reading experience'; a nifty way of describing it, this book really is good. You really do experience this novel. it's really nothing like any other book that I have read. The characters are the most dimensional, REAL people that I have encountered in a long time. I felt like I was there, I felt the heat, I heard the snakes, I almost felt like I could touch every part of Harriet's house. I loved the relationships between the people and the descriptions of everything. Basically, I loved everything about this book except for the fact that nothing happened, and there's basically no resolution to any of the issues raised in the book but because of how well crafted it all is, I forgive her.

  3. 4 out of 5

    Leslie

    This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here. This book, quite honestly, infuriated me. The opening chapter is stellar and haunting -- so much so that I slogged through 500+ pages on its promise alone. Anyone beginning this novel will (rightly so) expect a Southern Gothic murder mystery. The premise (at least the one outlined on the dust jacket) has so much potential -- set in a sleepy backwater Mississippi town, it follows the "adventures" of an overly precocious girl from a fallen plantation family (think Scout Finch meets Nancy Drew) who This book, quite honestly, infuriated me. The opening chapter is stellar and haunting -- so much so that I slogged through 500+ pages on its promise alone. Anyone beginning this novel will (rightly so) expect a Southern Gothic murder mystery. The premise (at least the one outlined on the dust jacket) has so much potential -- set in a sleepy backwater Mississippi town, it follows the "adventures" of an overly precocious girl from a fallen plantation family (think Scout Finch meets Nancy Drew) who has vowed to find and punish her brother's killer. However, the novel's momentum is quickly stalled by chapters and chapters of *Abject Naturalism* -- scene after scene of lush, dramatic, heady descriptions, microscopically attentive odes to Southern hallmarks like kudzu, honeysuckle, bickering maiden aunts, decrepit railroad tracks, sassy black maids, biscuits with maple syrup, poor white boys who look like they could have stepped out of a Confederate tintype, etc. At first, I patiently waded through these indulgent and often silly window-dressings, encouraged ever so slightly by Tartt's prose style. However, Tartt takes unforgivable advantage of her linguistic flair, so much so that the suspense totally evaporates, and the true engine of the novel (the mystery and romance of the murdered brother) essentially gets lost among innumerable, inconsequential, floridly written digressions, all of which do nothing to advance the narrative. I carried 500 pages of information around in my head, determined to sniff out clues and sleuth alongside our protagonist - only to find, in the end, that it was a futile venture.

  4. 4 out of 5

    Tina

    I sort of want to scream when I read lukewarm reviews of this book. Admittedly, people may get the wrong idea when they read the back jacket, or the first few pages, and anticipate some sort of murder mystery thrill. The death of Harriet's brother is merely background for her character. The skill with which Tartt explores the inner workings and thought processes of a virtually abandoned 12 year old girl whose older brother's murder has never been solved cannot be praised highly enough. Tartt seem I sort of want to scream when I read lukewarm reviews of this book. Admittedly, people may get the wrong idea when they read the back jacket, or the first few pages, and anticipate some sort of murder mystery thrill. The death of Harriet's brother is merely background for her character. The skill with which Tartt explores the inner workings and thought processes of a virtually abandoned 12 year old girl whose older brother's murder has never been solved cannot be praised highly enough. Tartt seems to have magically leaped over that crevasse that seperates us from our youth, and from understanding the mysterious social workings of 12 year olds. I found this book, though lengthy, to be absolutely riveting.

  5. 5 out of 5

    Madeline

    This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here. "Bestselling author Donna Tartt returns with a grandly ambitious and utterly riveting novel of childhood, innocence and evil. The setting is Alexandria, Mississippi, where one Mother’s Day a little boy named Robin Cleve Dufresnes was found hanging from a tree in his parents’ yard. Twelve years later Robin’s murder is still unsolved and his family remains devastated. So it is that Robin’s sister Harriet - unnervingly bright, insufferably determined, and unduly influenced by the fiction of Kipling "Bestselling author Donna Tartt returns with a grandly ambitious and utterly riveting novel of childhood, innocence and evil. The setting is Alexandria, Mississippi, where one Mother’s Day a little boy named Robin Cleve Dufresnes was found hanging from a tree in his parents’ yard. Twelve years later Robin’s murder is still unsolved and his family remains devastated. So it is that Robin’s sister Harriet - unnervingly bright, insufferably determined, and unduly influenced by the fiction of Kipling and Robert Louis Stevenson--sets out to unmask his killer. Aided only by her worshipful friend Hely, Harriet crosses her town’s rigid lines of race and caste and burrows deep into her family’s history of loss." Having read Tartt's previous book, The Secret History, and loved it so much I did everything except start a cult based on the characters, I expected to feel the same way about this. But I didn't. Know why this book gets only one star? YOU NEVER FIND OUT WHO KILLS ROBIN. Let me just reiterate that: the mystery of who/what could have possibly been able to appear in someone's backyard, while the entire family is within hearing range and two kids are sitting on the back porch, and grab a nine year old boy and hang him in a tree, leaving no trace, motive, or evidence, IS NEVER SOLVED. Excuse me while I bash my head against the wall for a minute. ... Okay, I'm back. Disregarding that highly irritating nitpick that is guaranteed to keep me awake at night, The Little Friend is actually a very good story. Fascinating, terrifying, complex (at times a little too complex, I must admit - the extensive cast of characters was hard to keep track of at times), morbidly engrossing, and with an ending that refuses to tell you anything. Ahem. I'm fine, really. But seriously Donna: come on. I want to know who killed Robin. Know how badly? I'm tempted to start stalking you and showing up at your door in the middle of the night, demanding answers because I KNOW YOU HAVE THEM. Here's the thing: since Donna Tartt is basically a genius (see The Secret History, a more wrapped-up and concentrated story, and my favorite of the two Tartt novels), I've convinced myself that she has, in fact, figured out who the killer is. Not only that, I think she reveals who the killer is through a hundred little clues and details hidden throughout the book, and we as the readers are supposed to prove our worth by locating these clues, putting them all together, and solving the mystery. I'm sorry, Donna. I failed your test. How about this: if I come to your house and kowtow repeatedly while shrieking "I'm not worthy! I'm not worthy!" will you please, please throw a thickheaded reader a bone and tell me who killed Robin? How about if I bring you chocolate?

  6. 4 out of 5

    Annet

    Part one: while reading it... This is what you call a 'slow read'. It is impossible to race thru these pages. That is why I had two prior unsuccessful attempts to read this book. An impatient mood is not a good mindset to read this one. But I loved The Secret History and I just know that Donna Tartt is a good writer. You just have to have quiet time on your hands to read this one. So I'm taking my time with this one and it's rewarding. The descriptions Donna Tartt uses are long and sometimes it Part one: while reading it... This is what you call a 'slow read'. It is impossible to race thru these pages. That is why I had two prior unsuccessful attempts to read this book. An impatient mood is not a good mindset to read this one. But I loved The Secret History and I just know that Donna Tartt is a good writer. You just have to have quiet time on your hands to read this one. So I'm taking my time with this one and it's rewarding. The descriptions Donna Tartt uses are long and sometimes it takes pages and nothing really happens. But, as another reviewer said, boy, does Donna Tartt know how to write, eventhough nothing much really happens. How she describes persons, surroundings, history, landscape. It's something you have to take in slowly, taking in all the words in slowly. So I read this book when the weather is good, outside in the garden, like this weekend. It doesn't really work to read this book before going to sleep, I just don't take in the words as I should. I have come to accept that the storyline is slow. I love sitting down and reading pages & pages about the brothers Ratliff, about the aunts of Harriet, about the brokendown parts of the town.... it's beautiful writing. I'm around page 257 today, halfway thru, so I expect it will take some more time to finish this one. Part two: after having read it: December: I finished The Little Friend! Summer has gone and winter is here... and I did take time. Part of the reason being that I got this one as a very heavy hardcover, so while travelling, I just don't take it with me. And while travelling, I read the most. And at some point, I just concluded I needed this book besides my bed, to read a couple of pages every day, slow and taking in all the detail. I can imagine that some people feel betrayed becauwe of the beginning intriguing plot and then how this book progresses, but I have to say... I really don't care. I loved this book, the style, the characters, the story, the southern atmosphere. All of it. Sure I would have secretely liked to see a clear ending and a solution to the mystery, but at some point I saw it coming that this one was gonna be different. When I finally got through the first say one fourth one third of the book I started immensely enjoying this book. Donna Tartt is a great, talented writer. How great is it to get into the mind of a child growing up fast and describe it in such amazing detail! Four stars. I gave Secret History five, because I think that story on the whole was just a bit better than this one. Already looking forward to the next book of Donna Tartt. And I really have to reread the Secret History. Take your time with this one and enjoy it!

  7. 4 out of 5

    emma

    A lot of things happened in this book, but at the same time... And in a much more real way... Nothing did. I tend to like Donna Tartt's writing enough that she could cook up a book with no plot, just vibes, and I'd be pleased, but I also tend to find Tartt's writing atmospheric and consuming, borderline eerie. I don't typically like her characters, but I'm usually unendingly interested in them. And while her books aren't dictated by storylines, there's always some uniting thread, a fascinating subp A lot of things happened in this book, but at the same time... And in a much more real way... Nothing did. I tend to like Donna Tartt's writing enough that she could cook up a book with no plot, just vibes, and I'd be pleased, but I also tend to find Tartt's writing atmospheric and consuming, borderline eerie. I don't typically like her characters, but I'm usually unendingly interested in them. And while her books aren't dictated by storylines, there's always some uniting thread, a fascinating subplot or question or object that brings the plot (such as it is) and the reader with it. This, for me, did not have any of that. While our protagonist, a "precocious" kid whose brother's death haunts her family and life, was enough to help me in my dumb and unnecessary (and, I'll have you know, successful) attempt to finish this six hundred and fifty page book in a day, everyone else was a snooze. The villains weren't villains, which was the point, but nor were they all that fun to read about. I don't read Donna Tartt to learn lessons, necessarily, and what felt like an emphasis on silly and mundane themes on this was enough to take me and this novel to the damn breaking point. I don't have anything nice to say about this, and yet I can't make myself lower the rating. Bottom line: Humans are inexplicable. If that observation seems wise to you, you'll like this book. -------------- currently-reading updates donna tartt could write a 900-pager about southwestern agricultural trends in the first half of the nineteenth century and i'd be like...sign me up clear ur sh*t book 34 quest 16: read an intimidating book

  8. 5 out of 5

    jessica

    i love DTs writing with every fibre of my being, but i have to be honest - the low average rating/poor reviews for this book had pushed me away from reading it for the longest time - i didnt want to ruin my high opinion of DT. fortunately, i didnt hate this like i thought i would! this is not without its faults, however, and i would consider this to be a minor sophomore slump of a novel. i agree that the length is much too long for this particular story, with slow pacing and unnecessary details l i love DTs writing with every fibre of my being, but i have to be honest - the low average rating/poor reviews for this book had pushed me away from reading it for the longest time - i didnt want to ruin my high opinion of DT. fortunately, i didnt hate this like i thought i would! this is not without its faults, however, and i would consider this to be a minor sophomore slump of a novel. i agree that the length is much too long for this particular story, with slow pacing and unnecessary details leading to reader fatigue. but there are some particularly bright spots in what is otherwise a very dark novel. there is evocative imagery, consistent themes, and endearing characterisation (hely and harriet are amazing together). i do also appreciate the apparent love DT has for the south and how her own childhood experiences are translated into her writing. although i would consider this to be DTs weakest novel, it in no way has lessened my opinion of her capabilities as an author. i just wish she didnt take 10 years to write a book because i want more of her stories! ↠ 3.5 stars

  9. 4 out of 5

    Robin

    A Southern tale set in small town Mississippi shows the wreckage left behind after a beloved son, grandson, and brother, Robin, is murdered in his own front yard. Evoking a little of Scout Finch, and a little of Flavia de Luce (child sleuth from Alan Bradley's books), Harriet Cleve Dufresnes decides to solve her big brother's unresolved death. Despite her innocence and youth, Harriet is deadly serious and doesn't mess around. This isn't a 'cute' story despite its childish heroine. There's so much A Southern tale set in small town Mississippi shows the wreckage left behind after a beloved son, grandson, and brother, Robin, is murdered in his own front yard. Evoking a little of Scout Finch, and a little of Flavia de Luce (child sleuth from Alan Bradley's books), Harriet Cleve Dufresnes decides to solve her big brother's unresolved death. Despite her innocence and youth, Harriet is deadly serious and doesn't mess around. This isn't a 'cute' story despite its childish heroine. There's so much I adore about this book. The setting: circa 1970's when kids didn't know what screens were for the most part, Southern U.S. with dilapidated old plantation houses with names such as "Tribulation". The people: a collection of doting, aging great-aunties, a pre-teen boy who will do anything to impress his girl pal, and a gruff housekeeper who smells like love. Like her other two books, this one is lengthy, but is blessed with the same incredible storytelling I've come to expect from Tartt. She delves into the mindset of a twelve year old girl so well, illuminating lingering racial and class prejudices, and the brokenness of her family. Harriet's life reaches a turning point; she is forced to grow up during this pivotal summer. Despite the length, I flew through it. I couldn't help myself!! I was all in. The characters are fascinating and rich. The mystery is spellbinding. And, of course, the snakes. They were far scarier than the white trash meth heads. I was gasping aloud during many scenes. Eeeeeeeeeeeeek. Hisssssssssss. How do people in Mississippi walk around? I think I'd need to be sedated in order to go out of doors. A few things were more than a little odd - the cover with the creepy old doll head - WHY? I noted the reference to one of the auntie's dolls, but it was such a minuscule detail, it doesn't make sense to adorn the cover of such a fantastically rich novel with that. The other thing: the title. Again, I saw the reference, made by Dixon Dufresnes at the very end, but it just seemed off. I wonder if Ms. Tartt had any say in either of these decisions. The only thing I'm unhappy with at the end of this engrossing coming-of-age story, is that I've run out of books to read by Donna Tartt. And I don't want to wait until 2024 for the next one!

  10. 5 out of 5

    Melki

    Oh, Harriet, you poor dear. Twelve and a half, homely and unpopular. The girl with the antique-sounding name and possessor of an "old soul." She has a gruff, common sense approach to life that eschews flattery and wins her few fans among her peers and relatives. In vain, the aunts tried to teach her to be polite. "But don't you understand, darling," said Tat, "that if you don't like the fruitcake, it's better to eat it anyway instead of hurting your hostess's feelings?" "But I don't like fruitcake Oh, Harriet, you poor dear. Twelve and a half, homely and unpopular. The girl with the antique-sounding name and possessor of an "old soul." She has a gruff, common sense approach to life that eschews flattery and wins her few fans among her peers and relatives. In vain, the aunts tried to teach her to be polite. "But don't you understand, darling," said Tat, "that if you don't like the fruitcake, it's better to eat it anyway instead of hurting your hostess's feelings?" "But I don't like fruitcake." "I know you don't Harriet. That's why I used that example." "But fruitcake is horrible. I don't know anybody that likes it. And if I tell her I like it, she's just going to keep on giving it to me." You certainly can't argue with that logic. Harriet was just a babe, plopped down in a wind-up swing, when her 9-year-old brother was murdered in the family's yard during a Mother's Day celebration. Now, her older sister mostly sleeps and cries. Her mother is mostly sedated. She is raising herself with the help of a stern grandmother, a gaggle of great-aunts and the housekeeper. Having nothing in common with girls her age, she hangs out with a passel of boys; enough boys so that they can play the apostles to her Jesus in a reenactment of the Last Supper. (This was one of my favorite parts of the book!) Her biggest goals for the summer? Avoid going to church camp and win the library summer reading contest. (Who could not LOVE this girl?) Oh, and she's decided to solve the murder of her brother, committed so many years ago. This bit of Nancy Drewism will land her smack dab in a nest of vipers (literally), and deep into the dangerous world of a family of meth-dealing ne'er-do-wells. This seems to be a love it/hate it title. I can see why it's not for everyone. The pacing is slow and languid, much like the Mississippi summer setting of the book. Things take their own sweet time unfolding. Many of the characters are not likable. And, yeah, there are unanswered questions. I kept reading because I was in love with Harriet. As one character describes her, ...Harriet was not sweet or whimsical by any stretch of the imagination. Harriet was a trip. And that she was... With distaste, Harriet reflected upon how life had beaten down the adults she knew, every single grown up. Something strangled them as they grew older, made them doubt their own powers - laziness? Habit? Their grip slackened; they stopped fighting and resigned themselves to what happened. "That's Life." That's what they all said. "That's Life, Harriet, that's just how it is, you'll see." Well, Harriet would not see. She was young still, and the chains had not grown tight around her ankles. Whatever was to be done she would do it. She would strike now--while she still could, before her nerve broke and her spirit failed her--with nothing to sustain her but her own gigantic solitude. She is gonna grow up to be one heckuva woman!

  11. 5 out of 5

    Violet wells

    Donna Tartt always gives me more information than I need. Two people will be talking and you get a description of all the furniture in the room, a description of what's on TV, a description of what's going on outside the window, sometimes a memory, sometimes a dream before the dialogue is resumed. Thus it can take pages for two characters to exchange four lines of dialogue. In this novel she also gives me too many characters. As always with Tartt it’s crime that motors this novel. In particular Donna Tartt always gives me more information than I need. Two people will be talking and you get a description of all the furniture in the room, a description of what's on TV, a description of what's going on outside the window, sometimes a memory, sometimes a dream before the dialogue is resumed. Thus it can take pages for two characters to exchange four lines of dialogue. In this novel she also gives me too many characters. As always with Tartt it’s crime that motors this novel. In particular the effect a mysterious murder has on the family of the dead boy. Harriet, the boy’s younger sister, is at times a riveting portrait of troubled female adolescence. Her home life in a forsaken claustrophobic deep southern town was often brilliantly evoked. There’s a compelling portrait of a black housekeeper – not the usual sentimentalised fairy godmother figure of Hollywood who adores her little white wards but a mother so pinched by poverty and exploited by the family that she has little real affection to spare. Tartt is also a master at creating suspense. When she introduces into the narrative a born again preacher with crates of poisonous snakes the impulse is to get those pages turning quicker to reach the scene when the snakes are let loose, as we know they will be. But in this novel the denouements of the created suspense often fell a bit flat for me, sometimes straying into cartoonish melodrama. In fact the best parts of this novel were those depicting the inescapable claustrophobia and loneliness of life in an environment that has been forsaken. The high octane cinematic set pieces by comparison felt forced, superimposed. Ultimately there was a sense for me that the frame of this novel was too large for its canvas.

  12. 5 out of 5

    Michael Finocchiaro

    Donna Tartt's second novel (I am working my way backwards from The Goldfinch). While I am still puzzled as to who is the "little friend" referred to in the title (Hely?) and the choreography of the end at the water tank was confusing, nonetheless this was an exciting page-turner and I feel that the protagonist Harriet was compelling. I loved her curiosity, her brilliance, and her spunk - she is not one to be double-crossed. The evocation of Alexandria, Mississippi reminded me greatly of my child Donna Tartt's second novel (I am working my way backwards from The Goldfinch). While I am still puzzled as to who is the "little friend" referred to in the title (Hely?) and the choreography of the end at the water tank was confusing, nonetheless this was an exciting page-turner and I feel that the protagonist Harriet was compelling. I loved her curiosity, her brilliance, and her spunk - she is not one to be double-crossed. The evocation of Alexandria, Mississippi reminded me greatly of my childhood in Florida. Tartt's mastery of language and description is impressive. The dream sequence of Harriet during The Blackbird chapter was mesmerizing (transitioning from Scott's failed expedition to the South Pole to an Harry Houdini escape applauded by penguins) amd highly memorable. The dialogs (particularly among Harriet's aunts) are also highly realistic as are her onomatopoeia such as during The Pool Hall: "Crack. The balls spun apart. Odum walked to the opposite side and studied the table for several momentd. Then he popped his neck quickly, by swinging it to one side, and leaned down to make his shot." (P. 199) I felt like I was sitting at the bar (or hidden with Harriet observing the scene. Another descriptive passage later impressed me: "The street lamps were not yet lit; the air smelled like hedge clippings, and bug spray, and honeysuckle. Rose beds blazed magenta and carmine and Tropicana orange in the fading light." (P. 266) Again, it was like I was on a bike next to Harriet and Hely. Later during The Red Gloves when they are up on the overpass, it was like they were "Shipwrecked on a desert planet...flapping flags, military funeral for the casualties...homemade crosses in the dust. Back on the horizon, the sparse lights of an alien settlement: hostile, probably, enemies of the Federation." (P. 316) The themes of southern memories of the Civil War and slavery, everyday racism, and the strained relationships between the prosperous (and less prosperous) whites with the subjugated blacks (notably that of the maids Odean and Ida with their respective employers) provided a realistic background to the story and reflected my own observations from living in the south. Harriet was a big reader and frequently there are references (such as "shipwrecked" above) to kids books like Treasure Island that added to the realism of Harriet and Hely's perspectives. There were also lots of bird images - particularly blackbirds - and knowing her next book is The Goldfinch, one would guess that Tartt is an avid bird lover. Another theme (which appears at the very end (no spoilers I promise) is being trapped underwater. For example, "She dreamed of black swamp water with ice in it, and country paths she had to run down again and again with a splinter in her foot from being barefoot( of swimming upward through dark lakes, knocking her head against a sheet of metal that sealed her underwater, away from the surface air" (P. 415). And again the theme of persistent memory: "Melancholy black drips of decay streaked the tank's facade from top to bottom - but even though it wasn't really there any more, the devil face, still it burned in Harriet's memory, like a light's afterburn ina recently darkened room." (P. 433) So many things about the south came back to me, like this: "They were old kitchen curtains: Danny still didn't know what Coriander was, or Mace, but he could still see the brown letters jingling along the mustard-yellow cotton (mace, nutmeg, coriander, clove) and the very names were a poem..." (P. 470) I am nearly sure my mom had those same curtains or a tablecloth just like that. There were dozens of moments where I remembered Vacation Bible School and Christian summer camp because they were so thoughtfully evoked. While not a perfect book, The Little Friend is a great one where even the bad guy, Danny, is revealed in all his imperfect humanity and all the characters are relatively three dimensional. I am planning to read The Secret History when the American Library of Paris gets it back in stock and then will impatiently wait Tartt's next book. She is truly and exceptionally gifted storyteller and I derive immense pleasure from her writing. Love Donna Tartt!

  13. 4 out of 5

    Pedro

    This is not The Secret History and definitely not The Goldfinch but that doesn’t justify the low rating and negative reviews on here. Well, actually, just by thinking that a novel like The Goldfinch doesn’t even have a 4 star rating on average says a lot, not about the novel itself but about its readers, and this takes me to one of the biggest problems about sites like Goodreads: the hype and the fact that it seems like a lot of people have no idea which books and authors might or might not work This is not The Secret History and definitely not The Goldfinch but that doesn’t justify the low rating and negative reviews on here. Well, actually, just by thinking that a novel like The Goldfinch doesn’t even have a 4 star rating on average says a lot, not about the novel itself but about its readers, and this takes me to one of the biggest problems about sites like Goodreads: the hype and the fact that it seems like a lot of people have no idea which books and authors might or might not work for them. As I grow more and more familiar to this site and the reading habits of its users, I have started to perceive some really annoying and even frustrating “things” that happen too much for my liking. Books are being picked up (by mistake, obviously) by the wrong readers! Another thing happening a lot on here (especially when a book or author is surrounded by too much hype) is that a certain kind of readers end up giving it a bad rating; not because they didn’t like it but simply because they don’t want to admit they ended up loving it as much as or even more than other people! Last, but not least important is the fact that when there’s too much hype surrounding a book a lot of readers avoid it like a pandemic (sorry!) and so the ‘right book’ remains unread by the ‘right readers’ only because it had been read by the wrong ones! Figure that out! So, there’s the thing about this book, if you really liked Tartt’s writing and storytelling skills in the past and still haven’t read this one; the chances are you’re also going to like this one. I believe it to be Tartt’s most personal book to date and as always she gives a lot of detail (light, weather, furniture, colours, feelings...) which might be a problem for some readers but not for me! I loved it all even more this time; the descriptions, the characters, the writing, the slowness of the plot (when compared to her other two books). Most of all I loved something which most readers find the most frustrating thing of all when reading a novel: the lack of answers. If you still haven’t read Tartt, but like good literary fiction, I honestly don’t know what you are waiting for? She started her career at the top of her game and I don’t believe she will ever “drop the ball”. At this point of my review I think it’s clear how much I love and admire Donna Tartt’s work. Her novels are the novels I wish I could have written and this one is no exception. Haunting and unforgettable. Compelling and mysterious. Beautiful and mesmerising.

  14. 4 out of 5

    Lord Beardsley

    I gave this book three stars only because of the author's ability to use mood, setting, and descriptive in an incredibly amazing way. However, this book was the biggest cocktease ever. Chekhov once said that if a gun is laying on the table in the first scene it had better be fired by the last. I firmly believe this, but Ms. Tartt seems not to. Oh well. It just seems that if you begin a book with a nine-year-old boy hanging dead from a tree, and the entire plot is driven from this, something shou I gave this book three stars only because of the author's ability to use mood, setting, and descriptive in an incredibly amazing way. However, this book was the biggest cocktease ever. Chekhov once said that if a gun is laying on the table in the first scene it had better be fired by the last. I firmly believe this, but Ms. Tartt seems not to. Oh well. It just seems that if you begin a book with a nine-year-old boy hanging dead from a tree, and the entire plot is driven from this, something should happen in the 555 pages of (sometimes incredibly indulgent) exposition. You'd think. Yes, she was describing class distinction and how families can be destroyed and decay, bladdy blah. I'd recommend reading A Member of the Wedding if you want to see that instead. But if you start a suspense novel and then morph it into a long-winded descriptive about redneck meth-heads mixed in with a coming of age story in the deep south...no! Pick a plot, please! Another thing I have a personal pet peeve of is Black Mammy Characters. You know, at one time in history...like in the Civil War...we were incredibly limited as a culture as viewing black people as, I don't know, human. This is the 21st Century however, and despite the fact that people actually think the tv show Weeds is funny, it wouldn't hurt to at least try to explore the revolutionary idea that black people are human and have a vocabulary that is not limited to speaking like Jim from Huckleberry Finn. I hate when *white* authors attempt to write black characters by using tired phonetic spelling that is just so fucking sadly offensive it makes me embarrassed for them. Now, I realize that the character of Ida didn't at all times rely on sad cliches...she just did most of the time. That whole part about her not really giving a shit about the kids was probably pretty accurate. But seriously, Hattie McDaniel died a long time ago and I'm really not sure they'll be able to find a Black Mammy stock actor to play Ida in the made-for-tv movie (on a side note, I think that Jenna Malone is too old for Harriet, but the mental casting the author did was really dead-on). Really, the bottom line is that the world needs another faux Southern Gothic quasi-racial drama like a hole in the head. The world doesn't need anymore Mammies...that's what that bottle of Aunt Jamima maple syrup is for. Just eat some damned pancakes, enjoy your racial superiority, and quit writing cliche Mammies...PLEASE! This book could have been great, but instead it was incredibly mediocre. I still don't think she's a bad writer, she's actually quite talented and has a real knack for creating mood...but man, learn when to fire that damned gun Ms. Tartt!

  15. 4 out of 5

    Juli Pennock

    Review to come, I'm still a bit flabbergasted... Killed the life out of me. Just gorgeous, I loved it. I hate the word "evocative," because it seems terribly pretentious…like “terribly pretentious” doesn’t sound pretentious at all, jeez, but this book is that. Evocative. Powerful, deep and dark, fascinating, poetic, and just overall beautifully written. Harriet is a firecracker, a pistol, a "trip." She's so completely herself and so completely relatable, it's almost eery. My childhood was nothing Review to come, I'm still a bit flabbergasted... Killed the life out of me. Just gorgeous, I loved it. I hate the word "evocative," because it seems terribly pretentious…like “terribly pretentious” doesn’t sound pretentious at all, jeez, but this book is that. Evocative. Powerful, deep and dark, fascinating, poetic, and just overall beautifully written. Harriet is a firecracker, a pistol, a "trip." She's so completely herself and so completely relatable, it's almost eery. My childhood was nothing like Harriet's (maybe a little in that I spent a lot of time alone and got to where I preferred it that way), but I can remember feeling the way she feels, that anger and boredom and terror. My heart ached for her throughout the whole book. The rest of the characters are sharply drawn, as well, except when they’re meaningfully fuzzy. Allison, Charlotte, and Libby are intriguing in their weakness, their otherworldliness. If Tartt gets a little flowery with her language (I think she does, just a bit), I feel it’s justified. This is gothic, epic, real deep-down Suddenly Last Summer stuff, and it earns its flowers. I’ve read a few reviews saying nothing happens. I couldn’t disagree more. A LOT happens, it’s just that not a lot of it is overt; a lot happens on the inside of people. Since I’ve always lived in my head, I adored and related to the style of the thing. Yeesh, and the danger! There’s danger everywhere. I was so nervous the majority of the time. I was enjoying myself, drawn into the story, refusing to stop reading while simultaneously NOT wanting to read anymore, lest something (else) bad happened. Ugh. I loved it. It was beautifully done and deep and dark and gorgeous. I need a thesaurus, whatever. Love.

  16. 4 out of 5

    Maxwell

    Well, that was a huge disappointment. I had heard this was generally the least loved of Donna Tartt's novels, but I went into it expecting to like it a bit more than most because I adore her work. But no, sadly this was a big letdown. Overall this book just left me very confused. How did she go from such an atmospheric, well-written novel as The Secret History to this? And then to come up with the masterpiece, The Goldfinch? I just don't get how she is the same author of this book. The writing Well, that was a huge disappointment. I had heard this was generally the least loved of Donna Tartt's novels, but I went into it expecting to like it a bit more than most because I adore her work. But no, sadly this was a big letdown. Overall this book just left me very confused. How did she go from such an atmospheric, well-written novel as The Secret History to this? And then to come up with the masterpiece, The Goldfinch? I just don't get how she is the same author of this book. The writing isn't bad, it's just not nearly to the caliber of her other novels. And you know those people, maybe friends or co-workers, who tell these long-winded stories and when they finish speaking, you're left going, "...that's it?" That basically sums up my feelings about this book. The whole time I was waiting for the story to arrive at some point where I could go, "OH!! Yeah! Wow!" and it would be redeemed. Sadly, it did not. A 1 star seems a bit harsh, because I suppose within the 555 pages there were some moments that kept me reading and interested. Though by the end I was SO over it, I just wanted to be done and know what happens. But even that didn't satisfy my enough to make it better. I'm really bummed because now I've read all 3 of her novels that are published, and I probably have to wait like 9 more years for another one. And this one didn't live up to the excellence of her other books. Ah well, at least I have The Goldfinch to appreciate.

  17. 4 out of 5

    Perry

    Prelim. Review (aka, a personal steam valve): Well, I declare! I just don't know what Donna Tartt did to open the floodgates to venom for her last 2 novels: The Goldfinch, preceded by The Little Friend. I say this not to gripe about your subjective opinion that you found The Little Friend boring, you detested the subject matter, or you simply dislike Donna Tartt's writing style or personality. Intelligent people don't quibble over such matters, since opinions are like a__holes. I am also not Prelim. Review (aka, a personal steam valve): Well, I declare! I just don't know what Donna Tartt did to open the floodgates to venom for her last 2 novels: The Goldfinch, preceded by The Little Friend. I say this not to gripe about your subjective opinion that you found The Little Friend boring, you detested the subject matter, or you simply dislike Donna Tartt's writing style or personality. Intelligent people don't quibble over such matters, since opinions are like a__holes. I am also not claiming you are somehow misguided by animus if you gave it one or two stars "just because I thought it stunk." On the other hand, if you based your poor rating on your opinion that the novel lacked literary merit, I kindly ask you to consider the reviews of a legion of regularly published critics (those I could find on a recent search) who almost unanimously and certainly resoundingly applauded the worthiness of The Little Friend. I'll finish by offering my answers to criticism that the novel's subject matter or dialogue is unrealistic. Ms. Tartt is a couple of years older than I am, but we both grew up in small town Mississippi (for both of us, a majority of our formative years were spent in 1970s MS). I assure you that I know the characters in this novel, in a manner of speaking. Though I've never met Ms. Tartt, I've known these character traits, and feelings, and dialect and thought processes (or lack thereof), in both the young and the old. I am also very familiar with the setting, generally; yes, Mississippi has many water towers (and, btw, fire towers). Okay. Thank you. I needed to vent a little. I'll write a full review in the near future.

  18. 5 out of 5

    Lauren Lastrapes

    This is such a great novel. I read it a few years ago, I think it was in 2004, I don't really remember now, but I know it was before I separated from Fabio since during the separation process I only read books by Chris Bojalian and books that Lauren mailed me. She didn't mail me The Little Friend, but I'm sure it is she who recommended it. Just last night, I was talking with my friend Jenna about this book (which I convinced her to read, and which she is reading now) and we were cracking up over This is such a great novel. I read it a few years ago, I think it was in 2004, I don't really remember now, but I know it was before I separated from Fabio since during the separation process I only read books by Chris Bojalian and books that Lauren mailed me. She didn't mail me The Little Friend, but I'm sure it is she who recommended it. Just last night, I was talking with my friend Jenna about this book (which I convinced her to read, and which she is reading now) and we were cracking up over the part where Harriet gives her Sunday School teacher the drawing of the black spot. This is one of the most intriguing books in the history of writing. It should have won prizes, maybe it did. It's complicated but not overwhelming in its detail. It's clever without being overwrought. It's dark without making one want to be buried alive rather than finish a chapter. And it's Southern without being charming. Which is something to which I can relate.

  19. 4 out of 5

    jaime ⭐️

    too many racial slurs for a book that’s not related to race and written by a white woman in the 90s. dnf’ing at 52 pages lol

  20. 5 out of 5

    Gary

    Ponderous and immersive This novel starts slowly and never really picks up speed. The author's ability to draw the reader into the scenes and lives of the characters, however, makes this a worthwhile read. The characters are well developed and realistic- quirky and original. Their insights into life are often fascinating and engaging. I liked the way I simply forgot about time when the author drew me in, and although the plot moved forward slowly (even sideways sometimes) the setting and situation Ponderous and immersive This novel starts slowly and never really picks up speed. The author's ability to draw the reader into the scenes and lives of the characters, however, makes this a worthwhile read. The characters are well developed and realistic- quirky and original. Their insights into life are often fascinating and engaging. I liked the way I simply forgot about time when the author drew me in, and although the plot moved forward slowly (even sideways sometimes) the setting and situations were lifelike and interesting enough to absorb my attention. Yes, it's long. Yes, it could have been trimmed quite a bit. Doing so, however, would have made this book something other than what it is- an immersive and well crafted read.

  21. 5 out of 5

    Phrynne

    I listened to this book on audio and would like to comment first that the narrator was excellent and gave a huge boost to the atmosphere of the Mississippi setting. And the book had tremendous atmosphere. Donna Tartt has proven that she can set a scene with the best of them. She can also write a great character and Harriet in particular is superb. In fact another book focussing on her as a teenager or an adult would be great! My problem stemmed from my interest in Harriet and her family. I was fas I listened to this book on audio and would like to comment first that the narrator was excellent and gave a huge boost to the atmosphere of the Mississippi setting. And the book had tremendous atmosphere. Donna Tartt has proven that she can set a scene with the best of them. She can also write a great character and Harriet in particular is superb. In fact another book focussing on her as a teenager or an adult would be great! My problem stemmed from my interest in Harriet and her family. I was fascinated by them all. Once the story switched to the Ratcliff family I lost interest and became irritated when page after page was spent on irrelevant side issues to do with their unpleasant lives. This was a long book and it took me a long time to listen to it. I liked it enough to finish it and the character of Harriet will stay with me. However it will not go down on my list of favourite books:)

  22. 4 out of 5

    Francisco

    This is one of Tartt's earlier books published before her acclaimed The Goldfinch. The same complexity and richness of character, the same explosion of detail that makes The Goldfinch so memorable can be found in a slightly less orderly way. Less orderly in the sense that this book didn't quite have the tight narrative structure where there is little that is told that is not important to the story. This book could have lost fifty or so pages without it affecting the plot line. But who cares, rea This is one of Tartt's earlier books published before her acclaimed The Goldfinch. The same complexity and richness of character, the same explosion of detail that makes The Goldfinch so memorable can be found in a slightly less orderly way. Less orderly in the sense that this book didn't quite have the tight narrative structure where there is little that is told that is not important to the story. This book could have lost fifty or so pages without it affecting the plot line. But who cares, really, when those extra fifty pages are fascinating in their own right. This is a story of twelve-year-old Harriet. Like most of Donna Tartt's main characters, Harriet is, well, unusual. Unusual in the kind of way we all are, if someone got to know us as deeply as the author let's us know Harriet. Harriet's life is unusual too. She is motivated by the murder of her older brother when she was just a baby and her goal in life is to find the person who killed him and avenge his death. This simple plot line takes place in a small town in Mississippi and the characters that inhabit this world are both recognizable and like no-one you've ever met before. Now and then, if you like to write, you run into books that are worth reading at least a couple of times. The first time just for the pleasure of it and the second time, more carefully, to observe how the author pulled it off. This is one of those books. Especially if you, like me, are a fan of the omniscient narrator. You know the kind that jumps into the minds of twenty or so characters without missing a beat. When you read this kind of book you get the sense of someone conducting a one-hundred piece orchestra, of a hundred instruments losing themselves to produce one musical experience. The other thing you learn from a book like this, if you like to write, is that writing is all about the concrete, the particular, the hard atoms of life and spirit that make our world and our lives. Here's writing behind which you can detect expertise on muscle-cars, amphetamines, Houdini, revolvers, snake handling preachers (and snakes), summer camps, the Bible, the Civil War, to mention just a few. You have to be grateful for people like Tartt who give years of their lives to first acquire and then transform this expertise into an an art that enriches you and me.

  23. 4 out of 5

    Patrick

    Donna really screws the pooch on this one. She makes a very likeable character, a smart, precocious little girl in a small country town who makes enemies with a group of meth-heads while trying to solve the mystery of her 9-year-old brother's hanging when she was a baby, and turns it into a 576-page snoozefest. I eventually had to go to a library miles away and check out the audio version so I didn't have to waste my precious eyesight reading it. I read this one review where the person said they Donna really screws the pooch on this one. She makes a very likeable character, a smart, precocious little girl in a small country town who makes enemies with a group of meth-heads while trying to solve the mystery of her 9-year-old brother's hanging when she was a baby, and turns it into a 576-page snoozefest. I eventually had to go to a library miles away and check out the audio version so I didn't have to waste my precious eyesight reading it. I read this one review where the person said they were sorry they had to give up reading it because they really liked the little girl, I felt the same way.

  24. 5 out of 5

    Roman Clodia

    ** Spoilers below ** I think the important thing about going into this book is to not expect it to be a murder mystery - there is a harrowing death which precipitates the story and which serves as a motivating force for the protagonist, 12 year old Harriet - but while she's on a search to find and punish the perpetrator, the book itself isn't. Instead, what we have here is a tricksy narrative where we as readers see beyond Harriet's childhood understandings, and I'd say the main thrust of the bo ** Spoilers below ** I think the important thing about going into this book is to not expect it to be a murder mystery - there is a harrowing death which precipitates the story and which serves as a motivating force for the protagonist, 12 year old Harriet - but while she's on a search to find and punish the perpetrator, the book itself isn't. Instead, what we have here is a tricksy narrative where we as readers see beyond Harriet's childhood understandings, and I'd say the main thrust of the book is her introduction to an adult world which is more cruel, less resolved, even more arbitrary than the essentially benign and ordered world that Harriet imagines based on her reading of books like Treasure Island. In Tartt's version, children may go on adventures but they also may get things wrong, create mayhem, cause hurt, even - perhaps - be implicated in killings that they never intended. Along the way, Harriet also learns some hard home truths - that Ida, her beloved Black nanny and housekeeper, doesn't love her back. That her domestic world is built on inherited racism that feeds all the way down to her own parents who don't allow Ida to drink out of the same glasses as the family. That prejudices of class can skew her own conclusions and that someone involved in a meths lab might want to get away from his own lifestyle and might once have been 'the little friend'. For all the good stuff, the book is overlong and can feel directionless for a large part. I especially felt that long chapters following the snake-handling preacher (word of warning: lots of snakes here, including one horrific, if blackly comic, scene of a cobra being dropped into a topless car from a bridge...) and the Ratcliff family with their criminal enterprises disrupt the main narrative and I yearned to be back with Harriet and her family. There are lots of Southern tropes here: the generations of men-less women in Harriet's family, racism, classism, poverty, drugs, religion - and yes, all those snakes! In the end, I liked this more as a whole than I did during some of the chapters and it's Tartt's fluent writing and dark, dark sense of humour which kept me going. For what it's worth, my take on Robin? (view spoiler)[I think he died by accident, trying to 'fly' from the tree and got caught in the rope which strangled him. There are so many instances of people wanting to fly, dreaming of flying, including Alison's nightmares of flying. There are also mentions of Houdini's escapes, something that Robin can't manage, and Harriet's own self-suffocation as she tries to hold her breath in imitation of Houdini. The adults all know this, otherwise it's hard to believe that they wouldn't have been agitating for further police investigations, and there's no mention (I think) in the newspaper archives which Harriet is reading of this being an unsolved murder. The whole book, then, is built on Harriet's misunderstanding about Robin's death as well as her leap in error to who the perpetrator is. (hide spoiler)]

  25. 5 out of 5

    Caroline

    ***NO SPOILERS*** (Full disclosure: book abandoned at page 226 [out of 555 pages].) The Little Friend starts strong, with distinct, even lovable characters--and protagonist Harriet is the most interesting of all--but 141 pages in, it loses its footing. Readers should be forewarned that despite The Little Friend’s summary, this isn’t a murder mystery. The mysterious murder is a background concern, a persistent nagging on the edge of twelve-year-old Harriet’s consciousness. The story is really about ***NO SPOILERS*** (Full disclosure: book abandoned at page 226 [out of 555 pages].) The Little Friend starts strong, with distinct, even lovable characters--and protagonist Harriet is the most interesting of all--but 141 pages in, it loses its footing. Readers should be forewarned that despite The Little Friend’s summary, this isn’t a murder mystery. The mysterious murder is a background concern, a persistent nagging on the edge of twelve-year-old Harriet’s consciousness. The story is really about--within the first 226 pages, that is--the day-to-day life and antics of Harriet and her cute friend Hely, and the pace is very leisurely, peppered with complex, often beautiful sentences. It’s also an entertaining character portrait of some charming Southern personalities. This is no urgently paced, heart-pounding murder mystery. These characters sit and laze away oppressively humid summer days, and that’s how Donna Tartt wanted the reader to digest this story--to sit with it. When the focus shifts from Harriet’s colorful family to a set of less interesting, less distinctive characters, the story slows considerably. Part of the problem is that this set of characters--brothers Harriet suspects were involved in her brother’s murder--blends together. Tartt tried (one, for instance, is mentally disabled; one is described--impressively--as resembling a bear), but they just don’t stand out, and it’s a burden to keep track of who is who. The story is no longer much fun to read and definitely isn’t a page-turner. A skimming of the remaining 329 pages reveals that these characters continue to take center stage, so apparently the story never reclaims the engaging tone of its earlier pages. It must be said that the writing isn’t problematic; it really is the story itself. The actual artistry of Tartt’s writing is, as has always been true of her, of the highest order. This definitely is the same author who lovingly strung together the stunning sentences of The Secret History and The Goldfinch. The Little Friend shouldn’t be one’s first experience with Tartt’s work. Goodreads’s low average rating is right; this is Tartt’s weakest. It doesn’t maintain momentum the way The Secret History and The Goldfinch do. Skipping this one won’t be any loss.

  26. 4 out of 5

    Jerry Balzano

    Sometimes, I do believe, one's expectations can completely ruin a book for a person. On the other hand, expectations can only infrequently enhance one's experience of a book. It took me three attempts, years apart, to get through The Little Friend ... but it was worth it! A wonderful book, and a unique heroine, young Harriet. Just read patiently and you will be richly rewarded. At first I wanted to give this book 4½ stars ... actually more like 4.4 because I'd "rounded down" to 4 ... but then so Sometimes, I do believe, one's expectations can completely ruin a book for a person. On the other hand, expectations can only infrequently enhance one's experience of a book. It took me three attempts, years apart, to get through The Little Friend ... but it was worth it! A wonderful book, and a unique heroine, young Harriet. Just read patiently and you will be richly rewarded. At first I wanted to give this book 4½ stars ... actually more like 4.4 because I'd "rounded down" to 4 ... but then something interesting happened ... I felt like I wanted to reread the book even though it hadn't been very long since I'd (yes, finally!) finished it. I wanted to re-immerse myself in the amazingly rich, strange, dark, frightening, alternatively heartbreaking and hilarious world of Harriet and her quest to find out who killed her brother Robin. So ... unlike many readers here, I came to The Little Friend with zero expectations ... and, as advertised, once I was properly "immersed", I loved it. Did the author do my bidding for me and tell me everything I might have wanted to know by the story's end? No, but I don't ultimately believe that it makes sense to scold or berate an author for not writing a different book than the one she actually did write. To fully appreciate any book, but especially a book like this, we need – I certainly needed – to "surrender" to, to accept, the author's offering, on her own terms. Having done that, and on rereading it, I have to revise: 5 stars.

  27. 4 out of 5

    Allison

    I LOVED The Secret History. I do not love this. Elegant prose can only keep a reader for so long. I imagine that many people, me included, do not want a 10 page description of two troubled twentysomething doing crystal meth and getting sunburnt in the middle of July. I actually made the 200 page mark. With the potential of more sweaty boys on drugs in the next 400 pages, I put the book down and re-read The Secret History instead.

  28. 5 out of 5

    B the BookAddict

    The really bad news about this book is that I have finished it! The really good news is that it goes straight into my bury me with this book bookshelf. An absolute busting-out-of-itself 5★

  29. 4 out of 5

    Blair

    I've owned my copy of this book for years. I think something in me must've just known it was the right time to read it. I read one chapter a night for a week – this book is 555 pages, and there are only six chapters, so really each chapter is more like a novella. I read it through a heatwave; unusual weather for where I live. This atmosphere – the heavy, hot air that paradoxically conjures up a feeling of perpetual restlessness, and that inevitably reminds you of childhood summers – seemed a per I've owned my copy of this book for years. I think something in me must've just known it was the right time to read it. I read one chapter a night for a week – this book is 555 pages, and there are only six chapters, so really each chapter is more like a novella. I read it through a heatwave; unusual weather for where I live. This atmosphere – the heavy, hot air that paradoxically conjures up a feeling of perpetual restlessness, and that inevitably reminds you of childhood summers – seemed a perfect match for the setting and plot. I loved the richness of The Little Friend, the sheer lush extravagance of the prose. Whenever I was reading it, I was completely immersed. When I was away from it, I looked forward to re-entering its world. It strikes me that there's something very old-fashioned about this type of storytelling – its slowness and detail, the sense that the author is taking her time. I sometimes read descriptions Donna Tartt has written and think there's nobody who can match her: An icy fresh wind blew through his head. The pool-room's seedy, contaminated mood—all heeltaps and grime—waxed bright and clean and comical all of a sudden. A despairing glassine shiver ran down Danny's neck as he sped past the funeral home. Airy methamphetamine clarity gliddered over him in nine hundred directions simultaneously. Harriet was going to be in the eighth grade next year, and what she had not expected was the horrifying new indignity of being classed—for the first time ever—a "Teen Girl": a creature without mind, wholly protuberance and excretion... The haze of deodorant and "hygiene" sprays in the changing rooms; the stubbly leg hair, the greasy lip gloss; everything was tainted with a slick oil of "puberty", of obscenity, right down to the sweat on the hot dogs... Knowing that it was inevitable ("just a natural part of growing up!") was no better than knowing that someday she would die. Where The Secret History was tightly focused and plotted, The Little Friend is sprawling and ponderous in its approach, yet small in its horizons, confined to this Mississippi community where everyone knows everyone else's business. It makes sense, then, that the protagonist is a child, since a small town seems like a universe when you're 12. (The Goldfinch is the bridge between the two – a big, broad story, but not as loose as this.) The Little Friend gets a lot of flak for initially presenting the plot as a sort of whodunnit and then never resolving that element. I don't think the problem here is necessarily that the mystery isn't solved – after a while it became irrelevant to me, and I was dimly aware from an early stage that it would probably never be wrapped up neatly. It's more that its presence makes it feel like Tartt doesn't trust the reader to be hooked without a mystery. If there was another >500-page story of these characters just going about their lives, I'd read it, no question. But I can understand why some find it frustrating that what is, at first, the plot's most intriguing question is never answered. TinyLetter | Twitter | Instagram | Tumblr

  30. 4 out of 5

    F

    This was far too big a book for this story. Just loads of unnecessary description and background about certain things. It was very slow but i still enjoyed the story. I would read another book by Donna Tartt as I've heard the others are far superior to this. This was far too big a book for this story. Just loads of unnecessary description and background about certain things. It was very slow but i still enjoyed the story. I would read another book by Donna Tartt as I've heard the others are far superior to this.

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