The Little Friend: Book summary and reviews of The Little Friend by Donna Tartt

The Little Friend

by Donna Tartt

The Little Friend
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  • Published in USA  Oct 2002
    576 pages
    Genre: Novels

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Book Summary

The hugely anticipated new novel by the author of The Secret History—a best-seller nationwide and around the world, and one of the most astonishing debuts in recent times—The Little Friend is even more transfixing and resonant.

In a small Mississippi town, Harriet Cleve Dusfresnes grows up in the shadow of her brother, who—when she was only a baby—was found hanging dead from a black-tupelo tree in their yard. His killer was never identified, nor has his family, in the years since, recovered from the tragedy.

For Harriet, who has grown up largely unsupervised, in a world of her own imagination, her brother is a link to a glorious past she has only heard stories about or glimpsed in photograph albums. Fiercely determined, precocious far beyond her twelve years, and steeped in the adventurous literature of Stevenson, Kipling, and Conan Doyle, she resolves, one summer, to solve the murder and exact her revenge. Harriet's sole ally in this quest, her friend Hely, is devoted to her, but what they soon encounter has nothing to do with child's play: it is dark, adult, and all too menacing.

A revelation of familial longing and sorrow, The Little Friend explores crime and punishment, as well as the hidden complications and consequences that hinder the pursuit of truth and justice. A novel of breathtaking ambition and power, it is rich in moral paradox, insights into human frailty, and storytelling brilliance.

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Reviews

Media Reviews

"In her first novel, Tartt unveiled a formidable intelligence. The Little Friend flowers with emotional insight, a gift for comedy and a sure sense of pacing. Wisely, this novel eschews a feel-good resolution. What it does provide is an immensely satisfying reading experience." - Publishers Weekly

"Starred Review. The abusive Ratliffs are a stunning creation; hopped up on methamphetamine and twisted dynamics, they are a modern-day version of Faulkner's Snopes family. Tartt's first novel was a surprise runaway best-seller; this time around, no one should be taken by surprise." - Booklist

"The Little Friend seems destined to become a special kind of classic ... It grips you like a fairy tale, but denies you the consoling assurance that it's all just make-believe." - The New York Times Book Review

"At times humorous, at times heartbreaking, The Little Friend is most surprising when it is edge of the seat scary." - USA Today

"Harriet [is] one of the most engaging and rounded characters you are likely to find…Tartt's writing: gorgeous, fluent, visual." - The Times (London)

"Languidly atmospheric... psychologically acute…. A rich novel that takes you somewhere worth going." - The New Yorker

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Author Information

Donna Tartt Author Biography

Photo: Beowulf Sheehan

Donna Tartt was born in 1963 in Greenwood, Mississippi. She was first published at the age of 13 in a Mississippi literary review. She enrolled in the University of Mississippi in 1981 where her writing caught the attention of writer Willie Morris. Based on his recommendation, she was admitted to a graduate short story course while still a freshman. At the suggestion of Morris and others she transferred to Bennington College in 1982, a private liberal arts college in Vermont.

She started writing what would become The Secret History in her second year at Bennington. It was published in 1992 and has since been published in 24 languages. Her second novel, The Little Friend, was published a decade later in 2002. Her third novel, The Goldfinch, is due to publish in Fall 2013, having ...

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