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The Little Friend by [Tartt, Donna]
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The Little Friend Kindle Edition

3.6 out of 5 stars 330 customer reviews

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Length: 642 pages Word Wise: Enabled Enhanced Typesetting: Enabled
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Product description

Amazon Review

Ten years in the writing, it can hardly be said that The Little Friend, Donna Tartt's second novel and the follow-up to her phenomenally successful and assured debut The Secret History, was rushed out. But was it worth the wait? Write about what you know is an old adage and much of the appeal of her first book was that its sense of place--an exclusive New England campus was clearly and so adroitly drawn from intimate experience. Here, the Mississippi-born Tartt utilises, piercingly on occasions, the American landscape of her own childhood.

The Cleves--Charlotte, Grandma Edith, Great Aunt Adelaide, Aunts Libby and Tat--are a southern family of noble stock but, by the early 1970s, diminished numbers and wealth; haunted by the motiveless, unsolved murder of 9-year-old Robin, "their dear little Robs", a decade earlier. (The novel opens, a la Bunny's corpse in The Secret History, with his body found hanging from a black-tupelo tree in the garden: "the toes of his limp tennis shoes dangled six inches above the grass.") Harriet, Charlotte's youngest child, "neither sweet nor pretty" like her sister, Allison, but "smart" was a baby when Robin died. Now a precocious, bookish pre-teen, she is convinced she can unravel the mystery of his death. Her chief suspects are the Ratliffs, a local clan of speed-dealing ne'er-do-wells, one of whom, Danny, had been in Robin's class. (The Ratliffs own sorry histories, and in particular the corrosive influence of matriarch Gum, are tidily juxtaposed throughout the book with the varying fortunes of the Cleves.) Harriet enlists Hely, her willing schoolyard disciple, to help investigate.

For a while the novel takes on a positively Nancy Drew-esque hue; Harriet and Hely the spies, sneaking into buildings, making off with poisonous snakes and escaping from drug-addled trailer trash on bicycles. In a significant departure from The Secret History though, Tartt does not seem unduly concerned about plot and, or, pacing. She's interested in characterisation and the bickering aunts and so many of the minor characters, the odious car dealer Mr Dial, for example, "all rectitude and pickiness, sweet moral outrage itself", are realised wonderfully. This isn't to say it's not well plotted; it is, as the dénouement eventually reveals, but it is rather languid and things can get a bit soggy midway. (Overuse of the adjective "stolidly", a word that unavoidably, if quite erroneously, calls to mind heavy fruitcake, doesn't really help either.) Tartt's Southern Gothic saga may lack the page-turning thrill of her last novel but it's, ultimately, a no less impressive or rewarding work of fiction. --Travis Elborough

Review

"A dark and troubling novel about childhood loss and revenge, The Little Friend finally hits shelves today." -- In Style

"Compulsive, page-turning stuff and is beautifully crafted." -- She

"It's hard to fault this excellent, enthralling novel." -- Marie Claire

"Ms Tartt has pulled it off again." -- Independent on Sunday, 20th October 2002

"Tartt may have left out the quotations from Sophocles, but there's more than enough chaos, death and remorse to fill up your average Greek tragedy." -- Elle

"an absorbing story of sorrow, loss, guilt and evil." -- Uncut, February 2003

"deeply absorbing and breathlessly exciting as Ms Tartt once again faultlessly explores a time, a place and a murder." -- New Books Magazine Issue 13

"gorgeous, fluent, visual; erudite but never distracting.’’ -- The Times

Product details

  • Format: Kindle Edition
  • File Size: 1921 KB
  • Print Length: 642 pages
  • Publisher: Bloomsbury Paperbacks; 1 edition (30 Sept. 2011)
  • Sold by: Amazon Media EU S.à r.l.
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B005QBH2Q8
  • Text-to-Speech: Enabled
  • X-Ray:
  • Word Wise: Enabled
  • Screen Reader: Supported
  • Enhanced Typesetting: Enabled
  • Average Customer Review: 3.6 out of 5 stars 330 customer reviews
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #8,572 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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Customer reviews

Top customer reviews

By P. G. Harris TOP 1000 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on 1 Mar. 2017
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
In a strange way, this book, for me, resembles a sort of inverse curate’s egg. Yes it has some not so good bits, but overall it’s so good that it deserves an excellent rating. To put it another way, this will be about the most qualified 5 star review I’ve ever written.

It tells the story of the Cleve/Dusfresenes family in a small Mississippi town, at a time which it slowly emerges is sometime in the early seventies. In a prologue, set twelve years before the main narrative, Tartt tells of the death of the beloved nine year old Robin, murdered and left hanging from a tree in the family garden.

As the main narrative opens, the Dusfresnes family has disintegrated. Father, Dix, has left home, mother Charlotte is still disconnected from life by her grief, and Robin’s sisters Allison, and Harriet, who was a baby at the time of his death, are left to run free. What adult supervision they receive comes from a matriarchal network with Grandmother at the head of a network of aunts and great aunts, a hive of eccentricity.

The early part of the book is a stunningly beautiful, but exquisitely painful description of the minor tragedies of childhood and the agonies of adolescence. In one particularly poignant and touching moment, Allison runs from the confusing trauma of the first time a boy tries to kiss her, and seeks solace in a bed stuffed with soft toys.

Tartt however, chooses Harriet as her main protagonist, and in a wonderfully concise phrase says “Harriet wasn’t pretty but she was smart”, so giving the reader a clear picture of the little girl who will figure at the centre of what is to come.
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By Vicuña TOP 500 REVIEWER on 24 Nov. 2016
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
I bought this book in hardback when first published. The Secret History was powerful and engrossing and I was looking forward to her next book. I couldn't get into The Little Friend at all, so put it to one side, then downloaded a kindle edition a couple of years back. It's been a hard slog; and I've also bought the Audible version, thinking maybe it would be better to listen to rather than read. So I've invested both time, effort and money truly hoping to find a rewarding book.

I've given this a rather generous 3 stars. It's well written, often lyrical, great use of language, amusing and there's a real feel for the central characters, good and bad. But the pace and plotting are so drawn out. The story has all the right ingredients; a child found hanged, racial differences, coming of age relationships, dysfunctional families...

I found it a trial to read; as a physical book, it's unwieldy and the effort had little reward. An ebook resolved that problem, but I realised that it's not the size of the book, it's the fact that the content isn't good enough. Yes, it's very well written, but the minutiae quickly detracts. Too much detail, too often to the point where the pace is plodding and the story ( what happened to Robin, the dead child at the start) is totally lost.

Donna Tartt has a distinctive style and her characters are superb. Her settings are great, there's a real sense of time place and tensions. So it's really disappointing to find this book bordering on unreadable. It's a real case of less being more. A frustrating struggle to finish; it picks up latterly, but too many unfinished storylines.
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
I am left with mixed feelings having read this book. I loved Donna Tartt's other novels. particularly the Goldfinch, but did not find this book to be as satisfying. There are just too many plot lines which appear and are never seen through, too many open ends, including perhaps the biggest one of the whole story. Having said that the writing is utterly absorbing and evokes the racism endemic in the deep South beautifully, in what is at limes like a grown up novel of the famous five - two children in this case getting way out of their depth in a dangerous adult world.

I did thoroughly enjoy the story, which is tense and exciting at times, and thoughtful at others. I just wish the loose ends, especially the mystery itself, had been tied up.
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If, like me you thought the plot synopsis made this appear the weakest of Donna Tartts work, then how wrong we were. Tartt draws heavily on her background in the deep south to create an unforgettable experience. Crafted beautiful prose combines with a depth of characterisation, human understanding and playfulness to create a lasting novel that stays with the reader long after.
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Overwritten, I am amazed this is a best seller! Verbose with dreary pages and characters I didn't believe in- I struggled to get half way in this book before giving up as I begrudged the time spent reading! Author could do with rereading Golding who conveys more in one page than she does in 200!
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I have enjoyed every book she has written. Do read it. A who-done it and a child search for a killer. Read her other books she has a unique way of writing.
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You are immersed in this hot sad world of a family lost in the past where a young child has to make her own way and meaning. I enjoyed reading this book although it felt overlong in places. Hence the four stars. It resonates and I long for a sequel. I am left with an echo of to kill a hummingbird. That the instances in the book will fade into family history seemingly clear but full of hidden facts.
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