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THE LITTLE FRIEND [Paperback]

Donna Tartt
2.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (471 customer reviews)

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Most helpful customer reviews
4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Art Mirrors Life Jan. 18 2007
By Nina
Format:Hardcover
Every other reviewer was disappointed by the ending of "The Little Friend." Could this be because so many people are reared on a diet of "and they lived happily ever after?" The novel isn't about Robin, or Danny, or solving a mystery. The novel is about those uncomfortable months between being a child and something more. It's about a time in Harriet's life. The book ends when that time ends. It's that simple.

We all want closure and had this been a typical mystery it would be disappointing that everything wasn't spelled out in the end. A skillfull writer, Ms. Tartt, refrains from lecturing us and, instead, shows us the abrupt conclusion of Harriet's childhood.

It's not a pretty book in that it follows formulaic rules; therein lies its power for me and other friends. When I closed the cover on my first reading I was quiet for a long time, remembering my own moment of awareness, understanding that I was more than just a child and now empowered with enough stubborness and passion to influence the lives of grownups. The time is bittersweet and painful. Things will never be as they were.

As a writer I know characters talk to their writers and maybe Harriet stopped talking so Tartt stopped writing. Just take it as it comes. The shock we feel at the end of the book is the same shock Harriet feels with her own realizations. Spelling it out would never have allowed us to be there.

As for ladders that conveniently break and all the other "saved by the bell" moments in any book, it is what it is. This is not an action novel it's a character-driven one and to appreciate it I think the reader has to reach back to their own years eleven and twelve.

Variety is the spice of life. There are books I abhore that others love and the opposite is true. Maybe you should read it again, knowing about the ending and savor the words, the pictures, and taste the ice cream eaten on a scorching Mississippi day.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Don't miss the point June 29 2004
Format:Paperback
The point of this novel isn't 'Who killed Robin.' This novel highlights the turning point between Harriet's childhood and adulthood. A child's view of life is that everything has a reason. Everything ends neatly in a package tied with a bow. "The Little Friend" shows that this idea isn't true. The truth is that a child can not solve a murder that happened when she was an infant. It is rather odd that one goes into the novel with this idea. Everything in Harriet's life changed the summer she decided to solve her brother's murder. This quest is simply a backdrop to the events happening around her; it is not the main theme of the story.
While I do agree that the ending left me feeling cheated; it seemed to just end, as if her editor told her it must be 'this long.'
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Hard to Believe Dec 15 2002
Format:Hardcover
It's hard for me to believe that some reviewers, who evidently like literary fiction, would give this book a bad review. It just goes to show it takes all kinds. I loved the book and have recommended it to several friends. I thought the characters came alive off the page, and the plot moved along nicely. It was so interesting, I couldn't put it down and lost a lot of sleep trying to finish it. I loved the ending and Tartt's use of the water tower was foreshadowed well and rounded up everything perfectly. The only reason I gave it four stars instead of five was because there is no easy solution at the end. It left me wanting a little more, but other than that, it was A plus.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
What a wonderful story. Imaginative, creative, humourous, human. I can highly recommend it. The book gives us great insight into Mississippi life - before the advent of air-conditioners apparently - and the suble nuances in southern society. I loved the child's perspective. Although the children seem to be the most observant witnesses to the adults' stories and dramas, they remain "invisible". They act on what they think is right, but only have snippets of the larger picture. It all comes together in the end in a wonderous and marvelous way. Donna Tartt is nothing short of a great story-teller.
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2.0 out of 5 stars Thanks Amazon reviewers! July 2 2004
By A Customer
Format:Paperback
I was about half-way through this book when I wondered: is it me, or has Donna Tartt really lost her way. I decided to check these reviews to see if I was alone in finding the book horrendously tedious, despite Tartt's obvious talent and skill as a writer. Thank you fellow reviewers. There are too many good books out there to waste anymore time on an author who couldn't or wouldn't reign in wandering plot, while piling on layer upon layer of extraneous details. Just how much can you read about hot weather and stagnant water? And where were the editors for this work? Despite her OK character development (thus my two stars), I found myself caring less and less for Harriet. She could have been enormously sympathetic and multi-faceted, but I just found her creepy.
I picked up the book because I loved Tartt's first book and this one received a good review. I think sometimes book reviewers feel it will reflect badly on their literary sensibilities if they complain about the lack of closure if a mystery isn't solved. The art is in the journey, and all that. That may be true in some cases, but I don't think it is here. This journey is just a bore. Little Friend reminded me of another overly long, out-of-control juggernaut: "The Crimson Petal and the White." Both are overwritten with no closure, but I think Crimson was definitely worth my time.
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Most recent customer reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
One of best books I've ever read
Published 1 day ago by Susan Holmes
1.0 out of 5 stars nothing follows the good begining of the book!
Don't lend that book to friends ... they'll be disapointed!
I certainly was, and mad that I had paid money for a story that doesn't have a 'middle' and no 'end'. Read more
Published on July 19 2004 by Danielle Brazeau
1.0 out of 5 stars how low can you go
Without hesitation the worst book I read in at least 2 years.
Donna Tartt has managed to wrtie a book, that doesn't reach the high standards she had with her first book. Read more
Published on July 16 2004 by Reinier van der Heijden
3.0 out of 5 stars Like Secret History, the ending was a bust
After 600+ pages of intricate character development which, one felt, must surely lead to an extravagant conclusion, the novel suddenly grinds to a halt. Maybe that was the point. Read more
Published on July 15 2004 by David Harris
2.0 out of 5 stars many incomplete books
This is not a single novel, but a bunch of first drafts thrown together, and none of the plot lines or characters reach any conclusion. Read more
Published on July 9 2004
3.0 out of 5 stars Wordy and boring
Oh, dear. What happened to Donna Tartt? Apparently, writing one masterful novel (The Secret History) gave her the lofty ambition to tackle this 600+ page sprawling, aimless novel... Read more
Published on July 7 2004 by Grant McKee
3.0 out of 5 stars Hints of genius lead to impasse
In an interview upon publication of "The Little Friend," Donna Tartt (somewhat haughtily, it seemed) exclaimed that she sees no use in reading reviews for her novels. Read more
Published on July 6 2004 by Montese C.
2.0 out of 5 stars Frustrating novel
This novel sucked ass on a number of levels. The plot takes many random and pointless turns, like Dickens on acid. Read more
Published on July 5 2004 by Chris C. Worthen
2.0 out of 5 stars i don't think this book is necessary
while there are great characters and descriptions this book is not well written. I wonder exactly what Tartt was trying to achieve. Read more
Published on July 2 2004 by Robyn E. Ellis
1.0 out of 5 stars What I did this summer.
Donna Tartt. Oh, how we love thee. Let us count the ways. I have been enjoying my wife's reading of this literary venture for the past couple of weeks now, on edge at every... Read more
Published on July 1 2004 by Chris Walrath
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