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Comment: This item is listed as acceptable and has probably been well used. It could have considerable writing or highlighting throughout but is still usable and has been priced accordingly. Please do not buy if you are expecting a perfect copy. It has a couple more reads left before its time to be recycled. We ship within 1 business day and offer no hassle returns. Big Hearted Books shares its profits with schools, churches and non-profit groups throughout New England. Thank you for your support!
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The Little Friend Paperback – October 28, 2003

3.0 out of 5 stars 1,057 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Widely anticipated over the decade since her debut in The Secret History, Tartt's second novel confirms her talent as a superb storyteller, sophisticated observer of human nature and keen appraiser of ethics and morality. If the theme of The Secret History was intellectual arrogance, here it is dangerous innocence. The death of nine-year-old Robin Cleve Dufresnes, found hanging from a tree in his own backyard in Alexandria, Miss., has never been solved. The crime destroyed his family: it turned his mother into a lethargic recluse; his father left town; and the surviving siblings, Allison and Harriet, are now, 12 years later-it is the early '70s-largely being raised by their black maid and a matriarchy of female relatives headed by their domineering grandmother and her three sisters. Although every character is sharply etched, 12-year-old Harriet-smart, stubborn, willful-is as vivid as a torchlight. Like many preadolescents, she's fascinated by secrets. She vows to solve the mystery of her brother's death and unmask the killer, whom she decides, without a shred of evidence, is Danny Ratliff, a member of a degenerate, redneck family of hardened criminals. (The Ratliff brothers are good to their grandmother, however; their solicitude at times lends the novel the antic atmosphere of a Booth cartoon.) Harriet's pursuit of Danny, at first comic, gathers fateful impetus as she and her best friend, Hely, stalk the Ratliffs, and eventually, as the plot attains the suspense level of a thriller, leads her into mortal danger. Harriet learns about betrayal, guilt and loss, and crosses the threshold into an irrevocable knowledge of true evil. If Tartt wandered into melodrama in The Secret History, this time she's achieved perfect control over her material, melding suspense, character study and social background. Her knowledge of Southern ethos-the importance of family, of heritage, of race and class-is central to the plot, as is her take on Southerners' ability to construct a repertoire, veering toward mythology, of tales of the past. The double standard of justice in a racially segregated community is subtly reinforced, and while Tartt's portrait of the maid, Ida Rhew, evokes a stereotype, Tartt adds the dimension of bitter pride to Ida's character. 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.
Copyright 2002 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to the Audible Audio Edition edition.

From Library Journal

Can Tartt duplicate the success of her debut, The Secret History, which appeared ten years ago? At least the chilly ambience is the same: a young girl whose older brother was found murdered when she was just a baby decides to right her life by finding the killer.
Copyright 2002 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to the Audible Audio Edition edition.
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 640 pages
  • Publisher: Vintage; Reprint edition (October 28, 2003)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1400031699
  • ISBN-13: 978-1400031696
  • Product Dimensions: 5.2 x 1.1 x 8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1,057 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #25,255 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By Miguel on November 15, 2002
Format: Hardcover
I don't understand what's the matter. There seems to be a rampant boycott going on about this novel, but I must say I find it ridiculous. All the naysayers are calling this book boring and the author racist.
Come on!
The book is set in the summer of 1970, and it should be noted that the social climate is captured with pitch-perfect ear. Harriet is a very well developed character and on her back she carries the whole weight of this engrossing, captivating and mysterious narrative, populated by eccentric characters and bizarre situations. Through her eyes we see how life can change in the blink of an eye. The horror of discovering the truth beneath the lies we have come to believe staunchly results in a chilling climax.
Maybe I will be stoned by all the readers who don't like this book or don't get it. Anyhow, Donna Tartt's voice resounds long after closing the final pages. And it does what not many novels can: it can make you laugh and shudder sometimes in the same chapter, and that IS the purpose of the novel: it transports you to a place you had not been before, to the skin of someone else, and for a moment, you are Harriet Cleves Dufresnes and live through her, the darkest, most significant summer of her life.
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Format: Paperback
Donna Tartt, a classicist, structures this novel like a Greek tragedy. The death of Harriet's brother Robin is not the central event in the novel, but the starting point that sets the tragic events in motion. Harriet, believing that she can solve the mystery of Robin's death, with just a hunch to guide her and the worshipful boosterism of her equally ignorant chum, confronts a young man from the wrong side of the tracks in an escalating conflict that comes to a battle of life and death. Finally, Harriet, who is mostly abandoned by her family, has to face this threat totally alone--and she has to reckon with her own hubris in bringing about this crisis. She will be forever scarred by what she has done, but she is wiser for it all. Two families are on a collision course,and the novel is resolved when they meet in a horrifying climax. To say that the ending is not resolved is not to understand the point of the book. Empathy is generated by understanding the heartbreak of the wasted suffering on the part of both parties --neither one is totally innocent or guilty. The last chapter just illustrates the total ignorance of the rest of the community of what has happened, and how the main characters will have to bear their grief alone for the rest of their lives. The comedy of life in a small town rises to the level of tragedy--fate takes its course once the events are set in motion, leaving the reader with a profound catharsis.
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Format: Hardcover
Donna Tartt has certainly not lost her craft, in The Little Friend, she proves herself to be a great writer. I enjoy her writing style and I didn't find the book boring...but it was ultimately frustrating.
Her ability to draw such realistic and compelling characters, especially Harriet, is impressive. Personally, I loved Harriet. I found her realistic and engaging.
The main problem is that the book is overly long, not a whole lot happens, the minimal plot is not particularly suspenseful or dramatic, and the ending is puzzling--what are we supposed to take away from this well-written book about a compelling young woman? While I like novels with more open-ended ideas, I was ultimately left feeling empty, not inquisitive.
I can appreciate Donna Tartt's writing, and Harriet managed to get under my skin, but the novel as a whole, didn't do it for me.
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Format: Hardcover
I think a lot of readers have approached this book expecting to read (a) a mystery that is wrapped up neatly at the end or (b) a follow-up to _The Secret History_. This book should not be read as a mystery. It is, instead, a vivid coming-of-age novel about a little girl in the South of the 1970s. As a Southerner who grew up in a town that was very similar to Alexandria, Mississippi, I can vouch for the accuracy of Tartt's portrayal. It's all there: the crazy extended families (all living nearby and constantly in each other's business), the Pentecostal preachers, the Baptist church camp, the tangled and conflicted ways that black people and white people relate to each other.
This novel follows in the tradition of great Southern writers like Flannery O'Connor, Eudora Welty, and Ellen Gilchrist.
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Had I paid any attention to the reviews at either Goodreads or Amazon, I might have been dissuaded from reading The Little Friend by those who didn't like the book, calling it "boring", "too long", "bad ending". That would have been a sad thing, because I'm putting it in that Difficult-to-Get-Into club of mine called "One of the Best Books I've Ever Read". It's very hard for me to see this as anything less than a 5-star book, so let me try to convince you readers who are contemplating reading it but are on the fence because of the book's detractors. However, let me temper that with a caution to those who want a quick read, a tied-up-in-a-bow ending, or who aren't willing to get deep into a character and the character's milieu---if you are one of those, go with a John Grisham. The paperback edition I read was a hefty 624-pages, and I savored every one of them.

The editor's description of The Little Friend (TLF) will lead you to believe that this is a murder mystery, and perhaps that's why some readers are ticked off that it lacks the typical and expected structure of a murder mystery. In fact, that's likely what enticed me to buy it. But while TLF does, indeed, begin with a mystery---the 12-year old, unsolved murder of the brother of the main character, Harriet. The mystery is also the impetus for the quest that is the book's focus. But the mystery is simply the background and jumping off place. This is really a story about Harriet, one of the most compelling characters I've ever encountered; the town where the story takes place (Alexandria, Mississippi); and the recently desegregated and deeply racist social climate in which the action occurs.

Harriet was a baby when her brother, Robin, is murdered. When we meet her 12 years later, she's like an urchin from a Dickens' story.
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