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The Little Friendby Donna Tartt
Synopses & Reviews
From the author of The Secret History — "an elegant, edifying work of art" (Entertainment Weekly), an international bestseller, and one of the most astonishing debuts in recent times — comes a hugely anticipated novel:
In a small Mississippi town, Harriet Cleve Dusfresnes grows up haunted by the murder of her brother, who was found hanging from a tree in their yard when she was just a baby. Robin's killer was never identified, nor has the family recovered. With her father having absented himself and her mother incapacitated by grief, Harriet lives largely in the world of her own imagination, alone even in the company of her teenage sister (destined never to recall whatever she saw that terrible day) and elderly relatives (for whom this tragedy was a culminating blow). For Harriet, though, Robin is a link to the happier past she knows about from stories and photographs; and so she decides, in the summer of her 12th year, to find his murderer and exact her revenge.
Even more transfixingly suspenseful than its predecessor, The Little Friend is a dark novel of lost childhood, breathtaking in its ambition and power, rich in moral paradox, profound insights into human frailty, and storytelling brilliance.
"Tartt is able to quietly transform the book from a patient study of a family's disassembly and despair to a gut-thumping story of a little girl seeking a measure of understanding and well-deserved revenge....Though absent of the twisted sexual tension of East Coast blue bloods that so thoroughly inhabited The Secret History, Tartt's first novel, The Little Friend is a more focused read, a deeper exploration of the dark manner in which the past never leaves us alone." Tom Chiarella, Esquire (read the entire Esquire review)
"A far more emotionally resonant novel than its predecessor....[Ms. Tartt] makes palpable the losses that the family has sustained over the years." Michiko Kakutani, The New York Times
"In this review, I can tell you that The Little Friend — her second novel, arriving 10 years after The Secret History — is overlong, its writing occasionally precious and its resolution murky; and I can also praise the book's vital characters, its supple conjuring of mood and place, and its dry, dark humor. But I can't explain how it is that this is a novel you sink into, or how Tartt casts her weird spell. I suspect, however, that it has nothing to do with acquired technique or any understanding of real life; no doubt she picked up the knack during a lifetime of obsessive and probably unhealthy reading. Wherever she got it, she sure knows how to write the sort of book that people who want to get lost in a book get lost in." Laura Miller, Salon.com
"[L]anguidly atmospheric....[B]y the time you get to page 543, you're so engrossed in just about everything but the murder that you no longer care who dunnit....[I]t takes you somewhere worth going." Daniel Mendelsohn, The New Yorker
"The Little Friend is a terrific story....By now it should be obvious what Tartt's been up to since The Secret History came out: she's been slaving away on this extraordinary book." Malcolm Gladwell, Newsweek
"[D]estined to become a special kind of classic — a book that precocious young readers pluck from their parents' shelves and devour with surreptitious eagerness..." A. O. Scott, The New York Times Book Review
"[V]ery long, very overheated, yet absorbing....Despite an overload of staggered false climaxes, it's all quite irrationally entertaining....Tartt appears to have struck gold once again." Kirkus Reviews
"[A] sprawling story of vengeance...told in a rich, controlled voice that can come only from long effort....[A] grownup book that captures the dark, Lord of the Flies side of childhood and classic children's literature." James Poniewozik, Time
"[W]ell worth the long wait....[A]n exceptionally suspenseful, flawlessly written story fairly teeming with outsize characters and roiling emotion." Joanne Wilkinson, Booklist (Starred Review)
"[C]onfirms [Tartt's] talent as a superb storyteller, sophisticated observer of human nature and keen appraiser of ethics and morality....The Little Friend flowers with emotional insight, a gift for comedy and a sure sense of pacing." Publishers Weekly
"Because of Tartt's mastery of suspense, this book will grip most readers all the way through to its bitter end....Although this is a large novel, Tartt has created a claustrophobic world in which there is little possibility of freedom for any character." Natasha Walter, The Guardian (U.K.)
"[F]rankly frustrating. For most of its length, The Little Friend lacks the drive of a book that needs to be written, even if it offers the considerable pleasures of being the work of someone who knows how to write." David Hare, The Observer (U.K.)
"Breathtaking....A sublime tale rich in religious overtones, moral ambiguities, and violent, poetic acts....From its darkly enticing opening, we are held spellbound." Lisa Shea, Elle
"Readers are easily swept up....At times humorous, at times heartbreaking, The Little Friend is most surprising when it is edge-of-your-seat scary." Dennis Moore, USA Today
"[A] slow wind-up to a big finish....While no one would confuse the writing style of Donna Tartt with that of Harper Lee, the theme each explores — the dissipation of childhood — is powerful, compelling and moving." J.D. Suntan, Willamette Week (Portland, OR)
"[B]y the time you get to page 543, you're so engrossed in just about everything but the murder that you no longer care who dunnit. And, by that point, you suspect that Tartt doesn't care, either....[The Littel Friend] takes the shape of a murder mystery, but it's not really about a death at all. It's about a way of life....The fact that The Littel Friend turns out to be quite different from the thriller that the reader...may have expected is a serious flaw. And yet as a novel of Southern manners it succeeds remarkably well....The Little Friend doesn't get where it was headed..., but there's no question that it takes you somewhere worth going." The New Yorker
A grandly ambitious and riveting novel of childhood, innocence and evil.
The hugely anticipated new novel by the author of The Secret History. Even more transfixingly suspenseful than its predecessor, this is a dark work of lost childhood, rich in moral paradox, as a 12-year-old Mississippi girl sets out to find her brother's murderer.
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 Mothers Day a little boy named Robin Cleve Dufresnes was found hanging from a tree in his parents yard. Twelve years later Robins murder is still unsolved and his family remains devastated. So it is that Robins 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 towns rigid lines of race and caste and burrows deep into her familys history of loss. Filled with hairpin turns of plot and “a bustling, ridiculous humanity worthy of Dickens” (The New York Times Book Review), The Little Friend is a work of myriad enchantments by a writer of prodigious talent.
About the Author
Donna Tartt is a novelist, essayist, and critic. Her first novel, The Secret History, has been translated into twenty-four languages.
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