10 of 11 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars
A curate's egg of a novel, 15 Dec 2002
I have just finished reading Donna Tartt's latest novel. I ts a work which borders on true greatness at times and it specialises in the superbly effective set-piece situation. Readers will never forget the horror of the loose snakes in The Mission, the eerie tranquility of Harriet's scanning of her neighbour's houses through the telescopic sight of a hunting rifle and the nerve-jangling tension of the climactic scene in the water tower.
Between these obvoius highlights the novel sucks you in, wraps around you and plunges you into the claustrophobic insularity of Mississippi in high summer. Yes, the characterization of Ida, Tatty and Eugene, for example, could be sharper and more obviously individualized but to denigrate the overall work on this account would be to miss the more subtle ironies of a clever creation. We have the child/adult world views painfully juxtaposed and, I think, we have a profound meditation upon the nature of retributive justice and recalled memory
Harriet is one of the more memorable creations in modern fiction, a dark, contemplative and driven little person who maybe shares some of the author's own life experiences.She will live with the reader long after the book has been read.
I recommend 'The Little Friend' as a gripping and thought-provoking read. It achieves what all good fiction should-that feeling of complete immersion and the knowledge that we are in the company of a writer who has an important tale to tell.