By Donna Tartt
Published by Knopf
October 2002; 0-679-43938-2; 480 pages
the rest of her life, Charlotte Cleve would blame herself for her son's
death because she had decided to have the Mother's Day dinner at six in
the evening instead of noon, after church, which is when the Cleves usually
had it. Dissatisfaction had been expressed by the elder Cleves at the
new arrangement; and while this mainly had to do with suspicion of innovation,
on principle, Charlotte felt that she should have paid attention to the
undercurrent of grumbling, that it had been a slight but ominous warning
of what was to come; a warning which, though obscure even in hindsight,
was perhaps as good as any we can ever hope to receive in this life.
Robin: their dear little Robs. More than ten years later, his death remained
an agony; there was no glossing any detail; its horror was not subject
to repair or permutation by any of the narrative devices that the Cleves
knew. And-since this willful amnesia had kept Robin's death from being
translated into that sweet old family vernacular which smoothed even the
bitterest mysteries into comfortable, comprehensible form-the memory of
that day's events had a chaotic, fragmented quality, bright mirror-shards
of nightmare which flared at the smell of wisteria, the creaking of a
clothes-line, a certain stormy cast of spring light.
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The hugely anticipated new novel by the author of The Secret Historya best-seller nationwide and around the world, and one of the most astonishing debuts in recent timesThe Little Friend is even more transfixing and resonant.
In a small Mississippi town, Harriet Cleve Dusfresnes grows up in the shadow of her brother, whowhen she was only a babywas 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. Harriets sole ally in this quest, her friend Hely, is devoted to her, but what they soon encounter has nothing to do with childs 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.
extraordinary book [has] a main character, a twelve-year-old girl named
Harriet Cleve Dufresnes, who ranks up there with Huck Finn, Miss Havisham,
Quentin Compson, and Philip Marlowe, fictional characters who don't seem
in the least fictional . . . If To Kill a Mockingbird is the childhood
that everyone wanted and no one really had, The Little Friend is
childhood as it is, by turns enchanting and terrifying."
"Breathtaking . . . A sublime tale rich in religious overtones, moral ambiguities, and violent, poetic acts . . . From its darkly enticing opening, we are held spellbound." --Lisa Shea, Elle
"Readers are easily swept up in [a] darkly comic novel that . . . broadens to examine Southern racial and social strata, religious and generational eccentricities, and the passion of youth that gives way to the ambivalence of age. At times humorous, at times heartbreaking, The Little Friend is most surprising when it is edge-of-your-seat scary." --Dennis Moore, USA Today
story of vengeance, told in a rich, controlled voice . . . Tartt has written
a grownup book that captures the dark, Lord of the Flies side of childhood
and classic children's literature."
Donna Tartt was born in 1963 in Greenwood, Mississippi. Tartt cultivated her love of literature at a very young age. After high school she entered the University of Mississippi in Oxford, then transferred to Bennigton College in Vermont, where she began her first novel, The Secret History. Her first novel was published when she was 28 years old and turned out to be a huge hit. Her fans waited ten years for this second novel.