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The Little Friend (2002)

by Donna Tartt

Other authors: See the other authors section.

MembersReviewsPopularityAverage ratingMentions
6,7401491,222 (3.42)190
Growing up in a small Mississippi town in a family haunted by the murder of her brother, Robin, Harriet Cleve Dusfresnes lives in a world of her imagination, until, at the age of twelve, she decides to find Robin's murderer and exact her revenge.
  1. 81
    The Secret History by Donna Tartt (Booksloth)
  2. 42
    To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee (DLSmithies)
    DLSmithies: The settings and atmospheres of both books are very similar.
  3. 10
    The Way the Crow Flies by Ann-Marie MacDonald (starboard)
  4. 10
    The Heart is a Lonely Hunter by Carson McCullers (shaunie)
  5. 32
    The Lovely Bones by Alice Sebold (KayCliff)
    KayCliff: Both books display the effects on a family of the murder of a child.
  6. 00
    The Member of the Wedding by Carson McCullers (KayCliff)
    KayCliff: Frankie and Harriet are both brave, lonely schoolgirl heroines, residents of the Deep South.
  7. 00
    Atonement by Ian McEwan (KayCliff)
    KayCliff: On the brink of adolescence, and all its hormonal storms, a clever but wildly imaginative girl makes up a story from fragments of hearsay and fantasy. Moulded by the yarns of daring and detection she has read, this story will transform her world over a single, clammy summer. The effectively fatherless child of an élite family, she lives in a sleepy, class-bound backwater. Her book-bred fancies will push a marginal young man into the glare of shame and ruin. But the tale-spinner will repent, and the curtain drop on a self-dramatising childhood. As its legion of admirers knows, so runs the main action of Ian McEwan's Atonement. Before long, an equally vast army will also recognise the outline of Donna Tartt's The Little Friend.… (more)
  8. 00
    The Help by Kathryn Stockett (KayCliff)
  9. 00
    The Wind-Up Bird Chronicle by Haruki Murakami (ainsleytewce)
  10. 12
    The Body by Stephen King (ecleirs24)

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» See also 190 mentions

English (128)  Dutch (10)  French (5)  Finnish (2)  German (2)  Italian (1)  Spanish (1)  All languages (149)
Showing 1-5 of 128 (next | show all)
A real literary page-turner.

A terrific semi-whodunit through the eyes of an iconoclastic 12-year old girl. Beautifully captures the Deep South circa the mid-70s.
( )
  joemillerii | Oct 19, 2022 |
I am afraid I didnt like or understand it. ( )
  Litrvixen | Jun 23, 2022 |
Donna Tartt's first novel, The Secret History, about a college clique that descends into...depravity? horror? is possibly the best book I've read in the past year. (At least, I think I read it in the past year. I could be wrong.) That stunned review of mine that you'll find on here is still absolutely true. The Little Friend is a different book in some ways - the protagonist this time is a young girl, rather than a college student, with all the changes in perspective and personal dynamics that entails - but fundamentally it's looking at the same theme (the darkness underlying everyday life). I think that it doesn't quite stack up to The Secret History, but it's still a five-star, haunting book. ( )
  skolastic | Feb 2, 2021 |
This one was a really slow start for me, but as I got into it, there were times that I couldn't put it down. Although I'm on a kick this year to read authors who are not straight white men, I found myself thinking there was something very masculine about the prose in this book. I haven't yet teased out what made me think that. In the end, the book didn't rock my world, but I thought a lot what Tartt wrote about the Ratliffs rang pretty true (I loved the "I'm on do such and such" style speech, though I'm a little embarrassed that it echoes my own), and I found Harriet's character well done. I liked some of the family history, though I feel like a fair bit must have been edited out (for example, given the way Allison was introduced, I thought there was precious little of her of any importance in the book, and I felt like there was an almost Faulknerian setup of the family in general that never quite paid off, though I suppose Faulkner had a dozen or so novels in which to trace the history of the Compsons, so let's give Tartt time or figure she simply doesn't want to linger with this southern family). I'm glad I read it, and having now read two of Tartt's novels, I'll go back and read her debut, which apparently made waves when it landed. ( )
  dllh | Jan 6, 2021 |
Donna you genius!!!! Good news y’all we should be expecting another Tartt novel in the next few years ( )
1 vote Ellen_Andrews | Aug 31, 2020 |
Showing 1-5 of 128 (next | show all)
Though the world Harriet discovers is unquestionably haunted, there is nothing magical about it, or about the furious, lyrical rationality of Tartt's voice. Her book is a ruthlessly precise reckoning of the world as it is -- drab, ugly, scary, inconclusive -- filtered through the bright colors and impossible demands of childhood perception. It grips you like a fairy tale, but denies you the consoling assurance that it's all just make-believe.

Comparisons, in any case, are beside the point. This novel may be a hothouse flower, but like that fatal black tupelo tree, it has ''its own authority, its own darkness.'' ''This was the hallmark of Harriet's touch,'' Hely reflects. ''She could scare the daylights out of you, and you weren't even sure why.'' Harriet's gift is also Tartt's. ''The Little Friend'' might be described as a young-adult novel for grown-ups, since it can carry us back to the breathless state of adolescent literary discovery, when we read to be terrified beyond measure and, through our terror, to try to figure out the world and our place in 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. As Harriet trudges through one lonely summer, encountering misunderstanding, bereavement, solitude and straightforward cruelty, she drifts further and further into her obsessions. Eventually other, tougher, meaner characters are dragged into her warped world and she is almost destroyed by her attempts to exact pointless revenge on individuals who bear illogical grudges against her.
added by rosalita | editGuardian, Natasha Walter (Oct 26, 2002)
With its pre-teen sleuths on bicycles, its broad-brush villains and oddly invisible police, The Little Friend courts absurdity time and again. A novel about the force and fraud of children's literature, it shares plenty of improbable conventions with that genre. It also flirts at every stage with kitsch and, in so doing, muddles the categories of "literary" and "popular" fiction even more thoroughly than The Secret History did. Critical puritans (or merely Yankees) will point to its Dixie weakness for verbosity, caricature and melodrama. Yet the verbosity yields passages of mesmerising beauty; the caricature, stretches of delirious comedy; and the melodrama, moments of nerve-shredding excitement.
added by rosalita | editIndependent, Boyd Tonkin (Oct 26, 2002)
Southern Gothic is an American literary genre with no British equivalent. It uses lush prose with a strong sense of Southern literary heritage (Faulkner, Flannery O'Connor), is set in the former Confederacy, and features at least three of the following ingredients: insanity, incest, inbreeding, extreme meteorological phenomena, fundamentalist religion, corrupt preachers, slave-owner guilt, black rage, fading gentility, violent white trash, fragrant subtropical plants. At least one main character always dies.
Donna Tartt's second novel, The Little Friend, is a spacious and ambitious example of Southern Gothic.
Like her best-selling 1992 début, "The Secret History," this long-awaited second novel takes the shape of a murder mystery, but it's not really about a death at all. It's about a way of life.

Tartt, who was born in Mississippi, has set her new book in her home state, in a shabby riverside town called Alexandria. From the start, it's clear that the corruptions that interest her most are the familiar ones: ingrained, almost casual racism; hostility between the white-trash "plain people" and the "town folk" like Robin's maternal relatives, the Cleves, with their faded aristocratic pretensions; and—inevitably, in the literature of the South—the stranglehold of the past.

» Add other authors (5 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Tartt, Donnaprimary authorall editionsconfirmed
Jonkheer, ChristienTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Lange, Barbara deTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Mossel, BabetTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Rabinovitch, AnneTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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The slenderest knowledge that may be obtained of the highest things is more desirable than the most certain knowledge obtained of lesser things.

—Saint Thomas Aquinas, Summa Theologica I, 1, 5 AD 1
Ladies and gentlemen, I am now locked up in a handcuff that has taken a British mechanic five years to make. I do not know whether I am going to get out of it or not, but I can assure you I am going to do my best.

—Harry Houdini, London Hippodrome, Saint Patrick's Day, 1904
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For the rest of her life, 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 instead of noon, after church, which is when the Cleves usually had it.
What she wanted — more than Tribulation, more than anything — was to have her brother back. Next to that, she wanted to find out who killed him.
Later, when Harriet remembered that day, it would seem the exact, crystalline, scientific point where her life had swerved into misery. Never had she been happy or content, exactly, but she was quite unprepared for the strange darks that lay ahead of her.
She did not care for children's books in which the children grew up, as what 'growing up' entailed (in life as in books) was a swift and inexplicable dwindling of character; out of a clear blue sky the heroes and heroines abandoned their adventures for some dull sweetheart, got married and had families, and generally started acting like a bunch of cows.
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Growing up in a small Mississippi town in a family haunted by the murder of her brother, Robin, Harriet Cleve Dusfresnes lives in a world of her imagination, until, at the age of twelve, she decides to find Robin's murderer and exact her revenge.

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