The Little Friend

Kobo eBook available

read instantly on your Kobo or tablet.

buy the ebook now

The Little Friend

by Donna Tartt
Read by Donna Tartt

Random House Audio Publishing Group | October 22, 2002 | Audio Book (CD)

The Little Friend is rated 2.5 out of 5 by 2.
The hugely anticipated new novel by the author of The Secret History—a best-seller nationwide and around the world, and one of the most astonishing debuts in recent times—The Little Friend is even more transfixing and resonant.

In a small Mississippi town, Harriet Cleve Dusfresnes grows up in the shadow of her brother, who—when she was only a baby—was 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. Harriet’s sole ally in this quest, her friend Hely, is devoted to her, but what they soon encounter has nothing to do with child’s 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.


From the Hardcover edition.

Format: Audio Book (CD)

Published: October 22, 2002

Publisher: Random House Audio Publishing Group

Language: English

The following ISBNs are associated with this title:

ISBN - 10: 0553714031

ISBN - 13: 9780553714036

Found in: Fiction and Literature

save 5%

  • Out of stock online

$44.95  ea

Online Price

$44.95 List Price

Cart

This item is eligible for FREE SHIPPING on orders over $25.
See details

Easy, FREE returns. See details

Item can only be shipped in Canada

Downloads instantly to your kobo or other ereading device. See details

All available formats:

Reviews

Rated 4 out of 5 by from Tartt delivers another incredible novel... Almost 20 years ago I stumbled upon Donna Tartt’s fantastic novel The Secret History, a novel which has stayed with me all these years. Having recently finished her second novel (and I believe there was almost ten years between the two books), I now have an overwelming desire to re-read The Secret History to see if it’s as good as I remember. I wonder if I’ll be saying the same thing about The Little Friend in 20 years? There’s no doubt, Tartt is a talented writer. The Little Friend is a gorgeous book, certainly a book to linger over. (It’s over 600 pages long.) It concerns 12 year old Harriet Dufresnes. On Mother’s Day, when Harriet is just an infant, her older brother, Robin, is found hanging from a tree in the yard. His murderer is never found. Harriet has decided that she will discover who has killed her brother because while she is neither pretty or sweet, Harriet is smart. The Little Friend is a densely-written, slow-moving novel. Set in Alexandria, Mississippi in the 1970s, the novel evokes the period (without bothering to fuss with specific details) and sets a tone which it sustains throughout. Harriet is surrounded by a cast of eccentric characters including her grandmother, Edie and Edie’s unmarried sisters. Harriet’s mother, Charlotte, has never fully recovered from the loss of her son. Harriet’s father, Dix, has long since removed himself to Nashville. Harriet’s best friend, Hely, is her constant companion. Harriet’s family once had money, but they don’t any longer. They all have ‘negro’ help, though. The maid/cook/surrogate mother in Harriet’s household is Ida Rhew and Harriet loves her fiercely. On the other side of town live the Ratliff’s: Farish, Eugene, Danny and Curtis. Farish runs a meth lab out of a trailer on the property. Eugene is a self-proclaimed preacher and Danny is addicted to the drug his brother produces. Curtis is Harriet’s age and a little on the slow side. Harriet decides that Danny is responsible for her brother’s death – something Ida told her reinforces her belief that Danny hated Robin. She and Hely set out to prove his guilt and exact their revenge. The Little Friend isn’t really about Harriet’s quest to find a murderer, though. It is about Harriet on the cusp of adulthood; about that long, hot summer between innocence and experience. This is a novel about loss. Harriet has more to lose than she might have thought and what she learns about herself and others surely shapes the woman she will become. This is a novel to savor. It evokes a time and place that is both familiar and exotic. I have to say, though, that when the end came I didn’t feel all together rewarded for my time and effort. But maybe that’s exactly what it feels like to leave childhood behind.
Date published: 2010-06-18
Rated 1 out of 5 by from Ugh...what a waste of time! This book is such a disappointment. The Secret History is one of my all-time fave books, so my expectations for Donna Tartt's second work was pretty high. The fact that it her a long time to write it got me more excited. Boy, was I wrong when I expected this to be just as good! The whole book was pointless! I stuck by it because I hate not finishing a book, and I did think it would get better. It didn't.
Date published: 2009-04-14

– More About This Product –

The Little Friend

by Donna Tartt
Read by Donna Tartt

Format: Audio Book (CD)

Published: October 22, 2002

Publisher: Random House Audio Publishing Group

Language: English

The following ISBNs are associated with this title:

ISBN - 10: 0553714031

ISBN - 13: 9780553714036

Read from the Book

For 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. Though the Cleves loved to recount among themselves even the minor events of their family history–repeating word for word, with stylized narrative and rhetorical interruptions, entire death-bed scenes, or marriage proposals that had occurred a hundred years before–the events of this terrible Mother’s Day were never discussed. They were not discussed even in covert groups of two, brought together by a long car trip or by insomnia in a late-night kitchen; and this was unusual, because these family discussions were how the Cleves made sense of the world. Even the cruelest and most random disasters–the death, by fire, of one of Charlotte’s infant cousins; the hunting accident in which Charlotte’s uncle had died while she was still in grammar school–were constantly rehearsed among
read more read less

From the Publisher

The hugely anticipated new novel by the author of The Secret History—a best-seller nationwide and around the world, and one of the most astonishing debuts in recent times—The Little Friend is even more transfixing and resonant.

In a small Mississippi town, Harriet Cleve Dusfresnes grows up in the shadow of her brother, who—when she was only a baby—was 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. Harriet’s sole ally in this quest, her friend Hely, is devoted to her, but what they soon encounter has nothing to do with child’s 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.


From the Hardcover edition.

About the Author

Donna Tartt is a novelist, essayist, and critic. The Secret History has been translated into twenty-four languages and is available in hardcover from Knopf.


From the Hardcover edition.

Editorial Reviews

"This 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."
--Malcolm Jones, Newsweek

"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

"A sprawling 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."
--James Poniewozik, Time


From the Hardcover edition.

Bookclub Guide

Donna Tartt is a novelist, essayist, and critic. The Secret History has been translated into twenty-four languages and is available in hardcover from Knopf.


From the Hardcover edition.

1. The prologue offers glimpses of the household before Robin’s body is discovered. What do the descriptions of Charlotte, Edie, the great-aunts, and Ida Rhew show about the individual characters and the family dynamics? Do the reactions of Charlotte and Edie to the tragedy simply reinforce an established pattern or does a more profound change occur? How do their stories about Robin—their “exquisite delineation of his character—painstakingly ornamented over a number of years” [p. 19]—differ from their embellished and often improvised memories of life at Tribulation and other family stories?

2. Tartt writes “From the time she was old enough to talk, Harriet had been a slightly distressing presence in the Cleve household. . . . Harriet was not disobedient, exactly, or unruly, but she was haughty and somehow managed to irritate nearly every adult with whom she came in contact” [pp. 27–28]. Does Harriett live up to this description? Does she change over the course of the novel?

3. “She did not care for children’s books in which the children grew up, as what ‘growing up’ entailed (in life as in books) was a swift and inexplicable dwindling of character” [p. 157]. How do the adventure stories Harriet prefers inform her notions of what “growing up” entails? What does her choice of books reveal about her perceptions of how the world works and the things she will need to survive? Does she have a greater understanding of the adult world than most children her age?

4. The elderly Cleve sisters all have clear places in the family’s self-portrait. Edie, for example, “was both field marshal and autocrat, the person of greatest power in the family and the person most likely to act” [p. 28]. Do the other sisters fall as easily into general characterizations? Are Charlotte, Allison, and Harriet contemporary versions of the older generation? How do Tartt’s descriptions of minor characters like Mrs. Fountain [pp. 33–35] and Hely’s mother [pp. 212–14] help to bring the central female figures into sharper focus?

5. “Because her father was so quarrelsome and disruptive, and so dissatisfied with everything, it seemed right to Harriet that he did not live at home” [p. 68]. Why does Harriet see her father in such a stark, uncompromising way? What insight does this offer into Harriet’s approach to her emotions and her experiences? Are there incidents in the novel that present a different, more sympathetic view of Dix?

6. Harriet pieces together her case against Danny Ratliff from conversations with Pemberton Hull [pp. 105–108] and Ida Rhew [pp. 143–50], information she’s gleaned from local newspapers, and “random little scraps she’d picked up here and there over the years” [p. 119]. Does the evidence Harriet collects provide convincing proof of Danny’s guilt? What factors contribute to Harriet’s confidence that she has solved the mystery of Robin’s death? What makes Harriet decide to track down Robin’s killer? Does Harriet understand the emotions that trigger her need to find Robin’s killer? Why is she so sure that Danny is guilty of the crime? How valid is her reasoning and where does it fall apart?

7. How do the physical settings help to establish the social landscape of the novel? Why does Tartt call Tribulation an “extinct colossus” [p. 43], for example? What is the significance of the mounting chaos and disarray in Harriet’s own home? What does the new housing development, Oak Lawn Estates [pp. 165–66], represent?

8. The account of Harriet and Hely’s attempt to steal a poisonous snake from Eugene’s apartment and their confrontation with the Ratliff brothers [pp. 300–330] is almost unbearably frightening and intense. What devices does Tartt use to build and sustain the suspense?

9. A collection of misfits, fanatics, and criminals, the Ratliff family seems to embody Edie’s view of the white underclass: “The poor white has nothing to blame for his station but his own character. Well, of course, that won’t do. That would mean having to assume some responsibility for his own laziness and sorry behavior” [p. 146]. Do the portraits of the Ratliff brothers reinforce or belie Edie’s assumptions? What redeeming characteristics do Danny and Eugene have and how does Tartt make them apparent? Why has Tartt included Curtis in the family? How does his presence add to our understanding of the family?

10. A strong matriarch presides over both Harriet’s family and the Ratliffs. What qualities do Edie and Gum have in common? How does each exercise her power? To what extent are their approaches to life defined by their social status and personal experiences? Does Gum’s own life, for example, justify “the main lesson she had drilled into her grandsons: not to expect much from the world” [p. 357]? In what ways do the lessons Edie imposes, either explicitly or implicitly, reflect her own strengths and weaknesses? What comparisons can be drawn between Danny and Harriet’s families and, in particular, between Danny and Harriet themselves?

11. Why does Ida Rhew play such a critical role
in Harriet’s life? How does Ida’s position in the household illuminate the shortcomings not only of Charlotte, but of the other adults in Harriet’s life? How do the family’s reaction to her departure and Ida’s response to being fired [pp. 357–67] undermine Harriet’s vision of her world? In what ways do the emotions she experiences reflect both her perspective as a child and her emerging awareness and acceptance of adult uncertainties and moral ambiguities?

12. What do you make of the end of the novel? Hely thinks, “The mission was accomplished, the battle won; somehow—incredibly—she had done exactly what she said she would, and got away with the whole thing” [p. 624]. Harriet decides “She’d learned things she never knew, things she had no idea of knowing, and yet in a strange way it was the hidden message of Captain Scott, the part of the story she’s never seen until now: that victory and collapse were sometimes the same thing” [p. 544]. What do you think of these two very different assessments? How do they reflect the natures of the two characters? Does it matter that Robin’s murder remains unsolved or do you accept, as Libby says, that “the world is full of things we don’t understand” [p. 140]?

13. The Little Friend explores the relationships between blacks and whites in Alexandria from several perspectives. The blatant racism of the Ratliffs is clearly shown in such incidents as the shooting at the river [p. 142]. In which ways does Harriet’s family also exhibit a deep-seated, if more subtle, strain of racial prejudice? Is Harriet’s shocked reaction to Ida’s story about the church burning [pp. 146–47] a sign of her naiveté or does it reveal a sense of morality that distinguishes her (and by extension, her peers) from past generations?

14. The novel begins with stretches of long, languorous prose but later the pace quickens. What techniques does Tartt use to achieve this?

15. The term “Southern Gothic” is often used to describe writing set in the American South, from Tennessee Williams’ and Carson McCullers’ tales of families shaped by tragedy, insanity, and alcoholism to Anne Rice’s Vampire Chronicles. Are there elements in The Little Friend that can be described as Southern Gothic and, if so, what are they? Were you reminded of other literary styles or authors while reading the book?

16. The novel’s epigraphs come from St. Thomas Aquinas and Harry Houdini. Why is this rather odd coupling of a religious scholar and saint and a magician appropriate to the story Tartt tells? What lesson is implicit in both quotations? Has Harriet gained “the slenderest knowledge of the highest things” by the novel’s end?

Item not added

This item is not available to order at this time.

See used copies from 00.00
  • My Gift List
  • My Wish List
  • Shopping Cart