The Little Friend

The Little Friend

by Donna Tartt

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Little Friend 3.1 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 131 reviews.
steamyfan More than 1 year ago
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. Do you remember what your thought processes were like when you were 12? I sure as hell don't. But Tartt seems to have magically leaped over that crevasse that separates 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. Donna Tartt uses her extensive knowledge of the South to create a book that isn't so much a story as a look into someone else's culture (me not being from the South). The book mainly focuses on a little girl growing up in the aftermath of her dear brother's unsolved murder, and the impact that level of tragedy can have on a family. It took me a little while to get into it, but once I did I really enjoyed this book. It took me about a month to read it, but overall I found it very satisfying. Tartt has a nice way with words, able to explain and detail things at length but in an easy-flowing kind of way. I would recommend this book to anyone looking for a long comfortable summer read.
Lunahumming More than 1 year ago
I've read both of Tartt's books (and eagerly await the 3rd), and while both are beautifully written, I am surprised by the number of people who prefer The Secret History to The Little Friend. This one I want to read over and over and over. Tartt has the ability to make each page lush, vibrant and moving.
DearReader More than 1 year ago
With this book Donna Tartt simply throws down the gauntlet on character development. This, her second, book was a long time coming and you can see why...these characters have been simmered and cooked down to the kind of flavor meld of a spaghetti sauce that has been on the stove all day. As a voracious reader I am so happily suprised when a book like this falls into my hands. It's long, the story is compelling, I adore the characters, and I lose DAYS to reading. Harriet easily makes it to the top of my alltime favorite hot 100 characters. I highly recommend this book. Be forewarned if you have a small child that the first part of the book is definately a punch to the gut. But don't let it deter you -- it's fiction, and it's a fantastic book.
Guest More than 1 year ago
You feel you are in this book and don't want it to end. this is a book to lose yourself in.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Started with Tartt's The Goldfinch and was motivated to read her 2 earlier works. The middle one, The Little Friend, was tedious, a pseudo Southern Gothic and I found myself skipping pages just to see if it would improve by the end. Grotesque characters, contorted plotting and situations that strained credulity in a book that wasn't billed as science fiction. Skip it unless you are a masochist.
Guest More than 1 year ago
I was extremely disappointed in this book. i can usually read a book in 2-4 days, this one took me 3 weeks because i was so not interested in finishing. The only reason i did complete it was because i had to work 2 hours to afford it. This book reminds me of a little kid with ADD. This book constantly goes off on tangents that have no relation to the story: girl trying to find brother's killer. THe above is the plot which is basically lost in the book. i would almost say this was a high school essay that required 600 pages and the content was only 300, so extra stuff was thrown in to meet the quota. I had a friend read it because she couldn't believe it was as bad as i said. she got as far as page 50 and quit.I DO NOT recommend this book to anyone.
Guest More than 1 year ago
Wow! From the first sentence I was hooked. I thought I would be reading to solve the mystery of the lynching, but I became so engrossed in the characters and the subplots that the mystery became secondary. This is a great Southern gothic novel -- a combination of To Kill a Mockingbird and Huckleberry Finn. I'm giving this to everyone on my Christmas list.
Guest More than 1 year ago
This is in my top 10 list of all time best stories. Every character described is a whole, complex and complete individual. It is a fascinating character study and the prose is a pleasure to savor. Have no preconceived notions before you start. Don't try to rush through it. If this was a movie, it would deserve an Academy Award. Thank you Donna Tartt!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Normally I read very quickly, but Im 200 pages in and 2 weeks and i am so bored by this book. Wish i had passed.
cloggiedownunder More than 1 year ago
“It was the last picture they had of him. Out of focus. Flat expanse of green cut at a slight diagonal, with a white rail and the heaving gloss of a gardenia bush sharp in the foreground at the edge of the porch. Murky, storm-damp sky, shifting liquescence of indigo and slate, boiling clouds rayed with spokes of light. In the corner of the frame a blurred shadow of Robin, his back to the viewer, ran out across the hazy lawn to meet his death, which stood waiting for him – almost visible – in the dark place beneath the tupelo tree” The Little Friend is the second novel by American author, Donna Tartt. Harriet Cleve Dufresnes is twelve. Her best friend, (Duncan) Hely Hull is eleven. It is the summer of 1976, Alexandria, Mississippi, and they have managed to avoid being sent to camp. Having exhausted their usual activities, Harriet becomes interested in the murder of her brother Robin, who at age nine was found hanging from the black tupelo tree on Mother’s Day, twelve years earlier. It’s something nobody talks about. Tartt expertly captures feel of a never-ending Mississippi summer during vacation time. Her portrayal of twelve-year old Harriet beautifully illustrates the naivete and the single-minded self-absorption of youth which, coupled with the allure of a taboo topic, facilitates a fixation borne of an absolute conviction based on hearsay. Tartt brings together in one tale the genteel class who still have black servants and the residents of the seedier side of town, the poor “White Trash”. The poverty mindset is well depicted, as is that of the more fortunate classes: “She possessed, to a singular and uncomfortable degree, the narrowness of vision which enabled all the Cleves to forget what they didn’t want to remember, and to exaggerate or otherwise alter what they couldn’t forget; and in restringing the skeleton of the extinct monstrosity which had been her family’s fortune, she was unaware that some of the bones had been tampered with; that others belonged to different animals entirely; that a great many of the more massive and spectacular bones were not bones at all, but plaster-of-paris forgeries” At over five hundred pages, this is no fast-paced murder mystery, but rather, a slow burn Southern drama, in which the tension builds to an exciting climax. This novel is filled with some deliciously black humour and a good dose of irony as characters navigate their war through meth labs and drug-fuelled paranoia, snakes and preachers, summer camp and funeral parlours, trailers and decaying elegance, grief and guilt. Tartt treats the reader to some marvellous descriptive prose: “The view had captivated her: washing fluttering on lines, peaked roofs like a field of origami arks, roofs red and green and black and silver, roofs of shingle and copper and tar and tin, spread out below them in the airy, dreamy distance. It was like seeing into another country. The vista had a whimsical, toy quality which reminded her of pictures she’d seen of the Orient - of China, of Japan” and “This isn’t real, he told himself, not real, no it’s just a dream, and indeed, for many years to come – well into adulthood – his dreams would drop him back sharply into this malodorous dark, among the hissing treasure-chests of nightmare” are examples. A brilliant read.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
It seems many readers wanted the usual story line where all of the loose ends are neatly tied up with a big bow at the end and you are left with nothing to ponder. If that is what you are looking for you won't get it in this book. This story is told through twists and turns, flashbacks and real-time drama. It is layered with all of the crap life can throw at you all at once, told through the eyes of a child who is unprepared to handle it all. I must admit it took me a bit to get into this story but once I made that connection I was hooked. I loved all of the characters and how they were all woven into one big tapestry of life, each one having a small or large impact on the other, whether intentionally or unintentionally. Real life doesn't always give us all of the answers and neither does this story but I loved it all the same.
verysmart More than 1 year ago
I read "The Goldfinch" and "The Secret History" by Donna Tartt and I absolutely loved them. This was awful. I can't believe it's the same author.
WillMorgan More than 1 year ago
well i just finished this book , i really liked everything except the ending I thought maybe she would sujm it all up or something, it just ends is there another book to this. have so many questions. ugg but i did enjoy reading it.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
If John Irving, Charles Dickens, and Stephen King had together written about small town Mississippi from the point of view of a 12 year old girl, this is the book they would have written• There are odd characters, a longing to be finally happy, & a thread of real menace running through the story• It's A Prayer for Owen Meany meets David Copperfield, with a bit of Breaking Bad, in a southern Castle Rock•
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Longest, most boring book ever. Took me over a month. I was determined and didn't want to be a quitter. I am an avid reader, reading many off the wall books, best sellers, crime, romance....This is the second book Of Tartts I have read, in my opinion a waste
Guest More than 1 year ago
Ok, yeah, I am really ready to fight. Why did I spend all this effort forcing myself to read this book when the ENDING WAS JUST RANDOM??? If it had had a spectacular ending, I may have felt justified. I just wish I could get the 2 days I spent reading this blather back!
mbmackay on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
This book contains some excellent writing, but doesn't quite it as an excellent book. The story is told from the perspective of 12 year old Harriet, whose elder brother died (was murdered?) some 11 years earlier. Harriet's quirky character is very well drawn, and her childish approach to problems and problem solving is true to life. Her family, the now poor descendants of a once wealthy southern US family, are also convincingly drawn. The bad guys, the drug dealing low-life Ratliffe family, are depicted with wonderfully excruciating candour - every hit of amphetamine, every bout of paranoia, every failure to take up an opportunity in life.But the book fall a little short in narrative structure. The prologue paints a nice picture of a family history that grows and changes by retelling at family functions, only for there to be no more family functions or retelling over the next 600 pages. The central issue in the plot, who killed the brother, is not resolved at the end of the tale. The character of a young Odum girl from one of the low-life families who appears to be trying to rise from the mire is introduced, the appears once or twice more, but is never developed.This is a good book that with a little more attention to plot development could have been a great book.
Dufva on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Tartt starts this novel in a very similar way to The Secret History, with a matter-of-fact reference to a murder. "For the rest of her life," it begins, "Charlotte Cleve would blame herself for her son's death because she had decided to have the Mother's Day dinner at six in the evening rather than noon, after church, which is when the Cleves usually had it."But this novel is not directly about a murder. It is about the effect that the murder has on the dead boy's family, and especially on his sister Harriet, who was less than a year old when he died, and is 12 when the novel begins. It is through Harriet's desire to come to terms with the past and find her brother's killer that Tartt paints her vision of family life in the American South.The whole book, the entire portrait of a troubled family and all its relationships, stems from the unsolved murder of one young boy.Because of Tartt's mastery of suspense, this book will grip most readers all the way through to its bitter end. But as you reach the last page, you may well feel a sense of relief. Although this is a large novel.
nivramkoorb on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
This was an excellent book that propelled me into The secret history. Unfortunately, I read it a long time ago and did remember the details of the book but that I liked it enough to give it 4 starts.
nohablo on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
As always, lushly written and with some great hard-hearted venom-blooded gristle, but, in a way, THE LITTLE FRIEND isn't quite as streamlined as THE SECRET HISTORY, and - as a result - suffers a bit. When she's successful, Tartt can be absolutely wonderful: she has a beautiful, poetic ear for prose, and an artist's eye for detail; she's phenomenal at etching out the small gestures and tics of friendships and enmities; and, when she hits her groove, she builds the walls of a scene up and over your head, encasing you completely in her own tightly-controlled world. But here? Without the iron skeleton of a conventional thriller girding her prose, she dips into indulgence, and sometimes skids off her mark. Her gorgeous, decadent Southern-gothic prose can get a little purple and overripe, her meticulousness can clog the narrative's arteries, and, over all, the little cul-de-sacs and dips of her plot can seem, well, a little aimless. THE LITTLE FRIEND is hugely weighty, topping about 500 pages. And, frankly, not all those pages are necessary. Tartt's gilded the lily, and eh, you know. Shed a hundo or so pages, and you'd be in business, I figure.
jayne_charles on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Massively anticipated I am sure by everyone who enjoyed A Secret History. And it took such a long time to come along! The first few pages - well, until the character of Harriet was introduced, really - were pretty hard going. I had to read them several times just to work out what was going on. Perseverance paid off and I did get into it in the end, though I still got stuck from time to time and found myself having to re-read.Tartt is great at creating characters, she lays on layers and layers of information, and her prose is magical. The oily landlord is a hoot, and the aunts are well differentiated even if they add less than one would expect to the actual plot.Can the ending be forgiven? Not sure. It's not dissimilar to The Magus (which I thought was acceptable) and Cold Comfort Farm (which wasn't). All in all, if you like great writing it was worth the journey even if the destination disappoints. And the gag about the butterfly coccoon was absolutely priceless.
rhondagrantham on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Harriet is a twelve year old determined to avenge her brother Robin's death. Robin died when Harriet was a baby and the culprit has never been found. This is the only topic of the past not discussed by Harriet's grandmother and great aunts. This novel weaves together Harriet's adventures and that of the Ratliffe clan, a doddering grandmother and her grandsons: an evangelist Christian, two speed freaks and a retarded teenager. Harriet is strongly influenced by her romantic reading, The Jungle Book and Captain Scott's last voyage are often used by Harriet as reference points in her quest. Against the lush Mississippi backdrop Tartt explores how unresolved grief can destroy the bonds of family. The characters in this novel are multi-dimensional and contrast strongly with one another. Sometimes the rich, visual metaphors of this novel are as oppressive as the heat, snakes and foliage of Tartt's Mississippi.The little friend engaged my emotions, but it was not an easy engagement, the images that Tartt realised will stay in my thoughts for a long time.
sturlington on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
I was fairly disappointed in this novel, particularly because I enjoyed Tartt¿s first novel, The Secret History, so much. The book opens with the horrific murder of a little boy in his own front yard, then picks up 12 years later, following his younger sister through a summer in a small Mississippi town. Despite some really interesting scenes ¿ all of them involving gruesome encounters with snakes, coincidentally enough ¿ the story never really finds its center, and the ending is both abrupt and unsatisfying.
gorana on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
i had great expectations after reading "Secret history " which is Donna Tartt's first book ( i think ) but i' m disappointed. The beginning is great and story develops very well but that's it. After one point it seems that nothing is happening and you keep reading and reading. I like that the story is based on mystery but in second part of the book that mystery ( unresolved death of a young boy ) is mentioned very rarely and in the end nothing is resolved. It's written very good but storyplot could be better.
RABooktalker on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
A powerful story about a young girl trying to find out why her brother was murdered. As she probes her memory for clues, she tries to piece together what happened....with disastrous results.