©2002 Donna Tartt; (P)2002 Books On Tape, Inc.
"It is an exceptionally suspenseful, flawlessly written story." (Booklist)
"Tartt's second novel confirms her talent as a superb storyteller, sophisticated observer of human nature, and keen appraiser of ethics and morality." (Publishers Weekly)
"A terrific story...Tartt etches each of these characters with indelible assurance." (Newsweek)
"Languidly atmospheric...psychologically acute...A rich novel that takes you somewhere worth going." (The New Yorker)
The richly drawn cast of characters is I think the main strength of this book. If you've ever spent time in the South, especially during the time frame she's set this story in, you will agree I think that she really nails it about how people interact, what small towns were like there, etc. The book revolves around an event that takes place (in memory) within the first chapter or so. The rest of the book is loosely organized around the mysterious circumstances that surround that event, a death. Eleven (?) year old Harriet, the central character, is worth the read all by herself. Donna Tarrt could not have done a better job in bringing her to life and making you care deeply about her. I laughed a lot as her thought processes unfolded, as she engaged in her amateur sleuth work, and as she enlisted the help of her adoring young friend with her plans. One reviewer mentioned Nancy Drew. Hardly. This is an adult book, with adult themes. I would challenge those who said it was too long to detail what parts of the plot/story they would have edited out. My book group could not come up with anything they'd have taken out, even though the length of the book is a bit daunting. It is a gripping story and you care deeply about many of the characters. The ending for many, including several in my book group, felt very unsatisfying, I will grant you that. But as we talked about it, we decided that this book was less mystery than it is a study of a time and a place and the ways in which people come to wrong conclusions based on their prejudices, misconceptions, and miscommunications. Those wrong conclusions change whole lives and can be tragic. Many things DO NOT get
I stumbled across this book at the store and it caught my interest at once. When I got home I looked it up on audible...low and behold! After listening to this book and reading other people's reviews I feel compelled to share my own thoughts...I really enjoyed this book and was sad when it was over. I enjoyed Karen White's narration as well, though when I first sampled the book I wasn't sure what to think...Her voice grows on you and did for me rather quickly...she sets the tone of this story perfectly. I'm giving a four star review because Donna Tartt does tend to drag some of the more minor details out for way too long...I found my mind wandering more then once, but all in all, this is rich and grand story telling...Some people have complained that the novel ends with too much left in the air, but I don't think so, I felt the story ended where it should for what the story was about.
After Donna Tart skillfully pulled me into this fascinating and well-constructed drama, got me to understand and feel for the vivid characters (Go, Harriet!), and wove an intriguingly tangled yet believable web between them, she just CUT OFF the story! I thought there must have been a Part 4 I'd forgotten to download. While some stories end this way on purpose (real life often has loose ends, right?) they usually let you know in some way that it's been done on purpose, that you're supposed to ponder something because of it, etc. This one just ended with NOTHING. All the loose ends were still loose, and more was unresolved than at the beginning. Which would have been ok, really, if Ms. Tart had just communicated in some way that this was the point of the whole thing. The way she left it, however, was very disappointing. Especially since I didn't want to put it down! I feel so cheated.
As others have pointed out, this book ended incredibly abruptly. It really was a shock that it ended as it did, I've never been so disappointed. I also felt the cadences of the reader were annoying, and I will avoid books read by her in the future...seemed like she was barking the story.
I just finished The Goldfinch and enjoyed it immensely, so thought I would enjoy The Little Friend. It is set in the south and the narrator has a very distracting southern accent. I am a southerner myself, but could not identify what the accent was supposed to be. But the worst part was that every sentence sounded like it had an exclamation point at the end(!) It was so artificial that I could not pay attention to the story. I quit after a few chapters and bought the hardcover book.
While this book in my opinion has a potentially great story, interesting narrative viewpoint and is full of subtle and complex perceptions from the protagonist's inner landscape, it moves way too slowly and lingers far too long on every description, nuance and gesture. An hour into Part One I realized the snail's pace of the narrative and decided to skip to Part Three, and surprise surprise, I didn't miss much. I finished Part Three and now will probably go back and read Part Two (saving it for when I'm in between really good reads), but this book suffers from a serious lack of energy and momentum. And then to top it all off, even though some elements of the story have been resolved, the ending comes as an abrupt disconnect, small consolation for all the hours the reader has invested in these characters!
I love a good long read with well developed characters and plots. This book goes too far...it develops everything...from rocks to dead snakes. This author also seems to have an unusual interest in snakes throughout the book. Hopefully, there will be a part 2 that will end and resolve this book and it will not go on, and on, and on. As a southerner, I thought the funniest part of the book was the way the narrator managed to mispronounce and mangle southern jargon. She tried to mimic a generic accent and mixed Texas twang with Georgia drawl, Cajun inverted grammar with old "Step & Fetch It" dialogue...all done at a quick yankee clip. As the regional flower of the south, she could have at least learned to pronounce kudzu correctly. She also managed to pronounce "crappie" so that it sounded like something that should be floating in a commode.
In general...don't bother with this one. It's dull, boring, overly long and ends up going nowhere.
I found this narrator so difficult to listen to; I gave up on this book after about an hour, and cannot give it an honest appraisal. Her dialect/accent seems disingenuous and she often ends her sentences on an interrogatory upwards note, which is usually indicative of someone lacking confidence. I also found her frequent, audible deep breaths to be so distracting that I just couldn't continue. The book sounds worth reading, and I adored Ms. Tartt's The Goldfinch, so I will read the book in print as an alternative.
Set in the 20th Century but dripping with Antebellum nostalgia. Southern decendents of plantation owners falling from prosperity. Yawn. Could not relate to any of the carefully neurotic characters, none of which had any redeeming qualities. After 8 hours of torture, not a shiver of supernatural dread. Absolutely tedious.
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