Leslie's Reviews > The Little Friend
The Little Friend
by Donna Tartt
by Donna Tartt
Jun 24, 08
Read in June, 2008
** spoiler alert ** This book, quite honestly, infuriated me. The opening chapter is stellar and haunting -- so much so that I slogged through 500+ pages on its promise alone. Anyone beginning this novel will (rightly so) expect a Southern Gothic murder mystery. The premise (at least the one outlined on the dust jacket) has so much potential -- set in a sleepy backwater Mississippi town, it follows the "adventures" of an overly precocious girl from a fallen plantation family (think Scout Finch meets Nancy Drew) who has vowed to find and punish her brother's killer. However, the novel's momentum is quickly stalled by chapters and chapters of *Abject Naturalism* -- scene after scene of lush, dramatic, heady descriptions, microscopically attentive odes to Southern hallmarks like kudzu, honeysuckle, bickering maiden aunts, decrepit railroad tracks, sassy black maids, biscuits with maple syrup, poor white boys who look like they could have stepped out of a Confederate tintype, etc. At first, I patiently waded through these indulgent and often silly window-dressings, encouraged ever so slightly by Tartt's prose style. However, Tartt takes unforgivable advantage of her linguistic flair, so much so that the suspense totally evaporates, and the true engine of the novel (the mystery and romance of the murdered brother) essentially gets lost among innumerable, inconsequential, floridly written digressions, all of which do nothing to advance the narrative. I carried 500 pages of information around in my head, determined to sniff out clues and sleuth alongside our protagonist - only to find, in the end, that it was a futile venture.
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