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The Little Friend

3.4 of 5 stars 3.40  ·  rating details  ·  23,086 ratings  ·  2,306 reviews
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 Mother’s Day a little boy named Robin Cleve Dufresnes was found hanging from a tree in his parents’ yard. Twelve years later Robin’s murder is still unsolved and his family remains devastated. So it i
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Paperback, 620 pages
Published October 28th 2003 by Vintage (first published 2002)
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Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 3,000)
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Leslie
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
tee
May 29, 2008 tee rated it 3 of 5 stars
Shelves: i-own
Currently reading this one and all I can think of is a passage from a writing-fiction manual that I read. The guy who wrote the article said that he once wrote a whole book and his publisher told him that it was good back-story, it was good for the AUTHOR to get to know his characters so when he wrote about them - they'd be 3D and real but it wasn't necessary for the readers to know most of the stuff that was written. You can remove a lot of the bulk from that first draft and keep it to yourself ...more
Tina
Jul 25, 2007 Tina rated it 4 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: readers
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. Tartt seem
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Madeline
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Melki
Oh, Harriet, you poor dear.

Twelve and a half, homely and unpopular. The girl with the antique-sounding name and possessor of an "old soul." She has a gruff, common sense approach to life that eschews flattery and wins her few fans among her peers and relatives.

In vain, the aunts tried to teach her to be polite. "But don't you understand, darling," said Tat, "that if you don't like the fruitcake, it's better to eat it anyway instead of hurting your hostess's feelings?"

"But I don't like fruitcake
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Lord Beardsley
Oct 28, 2007 Lord Beardsley rated it 3 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: readers of third-rate knockoff Southern Gothic
Shelves: read2007
I gave this book three stars only because of the author's ability to use mood, setting, and descriptive in an incredibly amazing way. However, this book was the biggest cocktease ever. Chekhov once said that if a gun is laying on the table in the first scene it had better be fired by the last. I firmly believe this, but Ms. Tartt seems not to. Oh well. It just seems that if you begin a book with a nine-year-old boy hanging dead from a tree, and the entire plot is driven from this, something shou ...more
Lauren Lastrapes
Apr 29, 2007 Lauren Lastrapes rated it 5 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: The Universe
This is such a great novel. I read it a few years ago, I think it was in 2004, I don't really remember now, but I know it was before I separated from Fabio since during the separation process I only read books by Chris Bojalian and books that Lauren mailed me. She didn't mail me The Little Friend, but I'm sure it is she who recommended it. Just last night, I was talking with my friend Jenna about this book (which I convinced her to read, and which she is reading now) and we were cracking up over ...more
Edward Lorn
Jun 06, 2015 Edward Lorn rated it 2 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: no one
Recommended to Edward by: Gottwals Books
Shelves: 52-in-52-2014
I pride myself on my ability to change, to adapt, and to admit when I'm wrong. Though I am not changing the star rating (the book still bored me to tears) I will fully admit that I somehow missed who the titular little friend actually was. I'm not covering up my mistake by editing the review. I am simply adding this note at the beginning. The cover is still, in my most honest opinion, complete garbage.

Donna Tartt's sophomore effort has probably the worst cover and title out of all the books I've
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Patrick
Donna really screws the pooch on this one. She makes a very likeable character, a smart, precocious little girl in a small country town who makes enemies with a group of meth-heads while trying to solve the mystery of her 9-year-old brother's hanging when she was a baby, and turns it into a 576-page snoozefest. I eventually had to go to a library miles away and check out the audio version so I didn't have to waste my precious eyesight reading it. I read this one review where the person said they ...more
Gary
Ponderous and immersive

This novel starts slowly and never really picks up speed. The author's ability to draw the reader into the scenes and lives of the characters, however, makes this a worthwhile read. The characters are well developed and realistic- quirky and original. Their insights into life are often fascinating and engaging.
I liked the way I simply forgot about time when the author drew me in, and although the plot moved forward slowly (even sideways sometimes) the setting and situation
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Juli Pennock
Review to come, I'm still a bit flabbergasted...

Killed the life out of me. Just gorgeous, I loved it. I hate the word "evocative," because it seems terribly pretentious…like “terribly pretentious” doesn’t sound pretentious at all, jeez, but this book is that. Evocative. Powerful, deep and dark, fascinating, poetic, and just overall beautifully written.

Harriet is a firecracker, a pistol, a "trip." She's so completely herself and so completely relatable, it's almost eery. My childhood was nothing
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Allison
I LOVED The Secret History. I do not love this. Elegant prose can only keep a reader for so long. I imagine that many people, me included, do not want a 10 page description of two troubled twentysomething doing crystal meth and getting sunburnt in the middle of July. I actually made the 200 page mark. With the potential of more sweaty boys on drugs in the next 400 pages, I put the book down and re-read The Secret History instead.
Francisco
This is one of Tartt's earlier books published before her acclaimed The Goldfinch. The same complexity and richness of character, the same explosion of detail that makes The Goldfinch so memorable can be found in a slightly less orderly way. Less orderly in the sense that this book didn't quite have the tight narrative structure where there is little that is told that is not important to the story. This book could have lost fifty or so pages without it affecting the plot line. But who cares, rea ...more
JerryB
Sometimes, I do believe, one's expectations can completely ruin a book for a person. On the other hand, expectations can only infrequently enhance one's experience of a book. It took me three attempts, years apart, to get through The Little Friend ... but it was worth it! A wonderful book, and a unique heroine, young Harriet. Just read patiently and you will be richly rewarded. At first I wanted to give this book 4 stars ... actually more like 4.4 because I'd "rounded down" to 4 ... but then som ...more
B the BookAddict
Jun 28, 2015 B the BookAddict rated it 5 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: EVERYONE
Recommended to B the BookAddict by: me, aren't I clever

The really bad news about this book is that I have finished it!

The really good news is that it goes straight into my bury me with this book bookshelf.

An absolute busting-out-of-itself 5
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Ruth Turner

DNF

This book was so slow, and so boring that at times I struggled to stay awake.

It's overly descriptive, with long-winded sentences. One marathon effort was 12 lines long. I had to read it 3 times to make any sense of it.

I didn’t really get a feel for any of the characters, except Harriet. I had trouble telling her aunties apart, except for Edie. And her mother and her sister were bland and uninteresting.

Harriet, searching for goals for her life, decides to train herself, like Houdini, to hold h
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Chrissie
This book offers both a mystery story and intense character portrayal. I enjoyed tremendously the character portrayal aspect, less so the mystery story. The mystery directs the plot and adds suspense. Harriet, a twelve-year old living in Alexandria, Mississippi, during the 70s, has decided she must solve the mystery of who killed her brother, Robin. He was nine at his death, she only a few months old. All she knows is what she has been told. How reliable is that information? For me there are plo ...more
Stacey
Apr 10, 2008 Stacey rated it 4 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: southern gothic fans, fans of slow pacing, fans of character development
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Beth
I finished this book over a week ago but I had to think about what I wanted to say. It was just the sort of book I have been yearning for, one you can't put down and when you do you have to sort of remind yourself to return to the real world and set the characters aside when called away to, you know, work or eat. I read her other book, The Secret History, many years ago and remember liking it enough but I found The Little Friend to be much more at every level.

The author's voice is a character in
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Jamie
For two weeks, I breathed and slept this book. I was reminded of Joyce Carol Oates, We were the Mulvaney's--specifically due to character development. I remember being in awe for most of We Were the Mulvaney's--the characters, and there were many, were just...intensely developed. I read a lot, and these characters were the stuff of real life: diverse, with nicknames, private histories and nuances. This novel, in the tradition of Oates, managed the same feat. Carson McCullers is in there, too--wi ...more
Beverly
Long before The Goldfinch (which I absolutely adore), there was The Little Friend.

This book remains one of my all time favorites. Since it's publication, this is my 5th reading...and I really don't reread books, folks.

Harriet is a whip-smart child growing up in the South during the 1960s. Her entire life has revolved around a single event: the murder of her older brother, Robin, which has remained unsolved. Although she was just an infant, Harriet claims to remember the day Robin was murdered,
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Stephanie Davies
Donna Tartt’s novel The Little Friend is an excellent example of contemporary American Gothic literature. I absolutely love the character of Harriet, and actually preferred TLF to The Secret History. I realise that most people don't like the ending (or lack thereof) but I thought it was incredible, the way that Tartt underlined the whole message of the text in that last exchange. Not everything needs to be neatly resolved, and I think there are clues throughout the novel for the reader to draw h ...more
Snotchocheez

With effusive high hopes, a NPR book critic recently announced one of her most anticipated releases of 2013 was The Goldfinch by Donna Tartt...which got my memory banks whirring in high gear...man, has it been over 20 years since she struck it big with the literary cognoscenti with The Secret History? I thought I'd reacquaint myself with Ms. Tartt's works (all...ahem...two of them) to see if I'd share the NPR reviewer's anticipation. After re-reading The Little Friend, a sort of Old South-meets-
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Emily
Nov 10, 2009 Emily rated it 4 of 5 stars
Shelves: 2002
I knew that Tartt's first book was a sort of murder mystery, and since there's a murder in the first ten pages of this one, I expected it to be a traditional whodunit in literary clothing. It is both less and more than that, slowing talking you out of your expectations and persuading you to accept its presentation.

The book has a disconcertingly languid mood, slow like molasses. Three of the seven chapters are mostly concerned with setting the scene; of those "The Blackbird" and "The Pool Hall" b
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Jill
I would agree that there are two reasons why people seem to like Secret History better than this book.

1. The story is not what the description makes it out to be, which can be disappointing. This is not the story of a girl searching for her brother's murderer. It is the story of a 12-year-old girl, her family and friends, and the family of the man who she has decided is her brother's killer over one summer in rural Mississippi.

2. The Secret History has many fans that saw themselves in the auste
...more
Texbritreader
I bought this book without knowing a thing about it based on sale price and author recognition, Tartt is a writer whose name I remembered vaguely from the literary columns. A few days ago, realizing I needed a book for an overnight trip, I grabbed it haphazardly from my book pile while heading out the door.

I found myself quickly sucked into the story of Harriet Dufresnes, a twelve year old girl haunted by the death of her older brother, Robin, murdered when Harriet was only a baby. I was impress
...more
Chrissie
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Terri Jacobson
Harriet Cleve Dufresnes is a 12-year old resident of Alexandria, Mississippi. Her brother, Robin, was murdered in his back yard when Harriet was an infant. This tragedy has affected Harriet's entire family and their whole existence. Harriet's father lives in Nashville, Tennessee, and she only sees him on Christmas. Her mother has been vacant and depressed since Robin died. The extended family of her grandmother and great aunts are the support for Harriet and her family. Harriet and her best frie ...more
Randee
I read Ms. Tartt's "The Secret History" last year and loved it. It was the first book I've read by her. I gave it 5 stars and it was in my top 5 favorites of 2014.

I love this story even a little bit more. There is so much texture and layers of a story centering on a family in Mississippi and the child, Harriet, who is determined to find out who killed her older brother. It's not really so much about his murder. To me, it was more about a child growing up in the deep south. A small town where ev
...more
P
It had potential and the blurb and first couple of pages captured my interest. But that was just a red herring, apparently.
I thought it was about a sweet little boy who is found hanging from a tree and how his sister Harriet (a baby at the time of his death) decides to solve the mystery of his death when she is twelve. Harriet, like Harriet the Spy, is a determined, no-nonsense type of girl any smart adult would be scared to mess with. But her relationship with her black housekeeper is straigh
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Donna Tartt (born 23 December 1963) is an American writer who received critical acclaim for her first two novels, The Secret History (1992) and The Little Friend (2002). Tartt was the 2003 winner of the WH Smith Literary Award for The Little Friend.

The daughter of Don and Taylor Tartt, she was born in Greenwood, Mississippi but raised 32 miles away in Grenada, Mississippi. At age five, she wrote h
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More about Donna Tartt...
The Goldfinch The Secret History The Secret History & The Little Friend A Christmas Pageant The Ambush

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“Even if it meant that she had failed, she was glad. And if what she'd wanted had been impossible from the start, still there was a certain lonely comfort in the fact that she'd known it was impossible and had gone ahead and done it anyway.” 46 likes
“The possible, as it was presented in her Health textbook (a mathematical progression of dating, "career," marriage, and motherhood), did not interest Harriet. Of all the heroes on her list, the greatest of them all was Sherlock Holmes, and he wasn’t even a real person. Then there was Harry Houdini. He was the master of the impossible; more importantly, for Harriet, he was a master of escape. No prison in the world could hold him: he escaped from straitjackets, from locked trunks dropped in fast rivers and from coffins buried six feet underground.

And how had he done it? He wasn’t afraid. Saint Joan had galloped out with the angels on her side but Houdini had mastered fear on his own. No divine aid for him; he’d taught himself the hard way how to beat back panic, the horror of suffocation and drowning and dark. Handcuffed in a locked trunk in the bottom of a river, he squandered not a heartbeat on being afraid, never buckled to the terror of the chains and the dark and the icy water; if he became lightheaded, for even a moment, if he fumbled at the breathless labor before him– somersaulting along a river-bed, head over heels– he would never come up from the water alive.

A training program. This was Houdini’s secret.”
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