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Book: The Little Friend

July 29, 2011
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Speaking of audiobooks, I remembered that I hadn’t reviewed The Little Friend, by Donna Tartt.

I read The Secret History, her absolutely stunning first novel, way back when. I adored that dark, frightening, confusing book. I’ve been putting off re-reading it for a long time because I want to enjoy it all over again. Maybe in a few more years.

In the meantime, Tartt finally finished her second novel, The Little Friend. Could it possibly be as good as The Secret History?

Well, no. But it was still really, really good. Just not as dizzyingly hypnotic and dark as Secret History. But certainly not sweetness and light, either. Oh no. Here we have Southern Gothic at its finest. A hot Mississippi summer, an unsolved child-murder, a meth-fueled redneck family of the worst kind, a precocious girl who is too smart for her own good and her boy-wonder sidekick. A mother who slides into depression and eats nothing but ice cream for weeks. An abandoned water tower. A king cobra.

What happens when a dark girl, neglected and too smart for her own good, decides to solve the mystery of what happened to her brother? Bad things. Lots of bad things.

I listened to this on audio and I have to say that I was shocked and horrified to learn, at the very end, that I’d been listening to an abridged version. ABRIDGED. I never, ever read abridged works. I was really disappointed to learn this because I always think about all the things I’ve missed. What was cut? But I console myself that this was read by the author herself, and she was a perfect narrator. I loved her voice, her accent.

And besides, I’ll want to reread this someday (probably) and I can read the unabridged version then.

So, if you haven’t read any Donna Tartt, start with The Secret History, because it’s freaking amazing. And then, a little while later, as you are bemoaning the fact that you can never read that book for the first time ever again, read The Little Friend. It’s not quite as stunning as her first, but it’s still very, very good. It’s very sad that she isn’t very prolific. More Donna Tartt, please!

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5 Comments leave one →
  1. July 29, 2011 5:23 pm

    It all came whooshing back to me when you mentioned the mom and the ice cream.

  2. August 1, 2011 2:51 am

    I just read this in paper and loved it! Actually, a little bit more than Secret History but I read that one so long ago the details are a bit fuzzy (I’m planning on rereading it now). Boo to sneaky abridgements though!

    AND guess what?! Her third novel is supposed to be published next year!

    • August 1, 2011 11:24 am

      Oh, yippee! I can’t wait. I love her. I think I would have liked the unabridged version even more.

  3. August 8, 2011 6:15 pm

    I read The Secret History earlier this year, and I’ve been wondering about The Little Friend. Not sure I want to read it so close to The Secret History though so I’ll take your advice and wait a bit.

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