Cover image for The little friend
Title:
The little friend
Author:
Tartt, Donna.
Personal Author:
Edition:
Abridged.
Publication Information:
[New York, N.Y.?] : Random House Audio, [2002]

â„—2002
Physical Description:
5 audio discs (6 hrs.) : digital ; 4 3/4 in.
General Note:
Compact disc.
Language:
English
Geographic Term:
ISBN:
9780553714036
Format :
Audiobook on CD

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XX(1196516.37) Adult Audiobook on CD Audiobooks
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Summary

Summary

The hugely anticipated new novel by the author ofThe Secret History--a best-seller nationwide and around the world, and one of the most astonishing debuts in recent times--The Little Friendis 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 Friendexplores 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.


Summary

After twelve years, the murder of Robin Cleve Dufresnes remains unsolved. His sister Harriet is now determined to find her brother's killer. Along with her friend Hely, Harriet defies her town's strict policies on race and class in an attempt to uncover the awful truth.


Author Notes

Donna Tartt was born in Greenwood, Mississippi on December 23, 1963. She wrote her first novel while attending Bennington College, where she graduated in 1986. The novel, The Secret History, was published in 1992. Her other works include The Little Friend, which won the WH Smith Literary Award in 2003, and The Goldfinch, which won the Pulitzer Prize in 2014 for Best Fiction, the National Book Critics Circle Award in 2013 and the Andrew Carnegie Medal for Excellence for Fiction. In 2014, Time named Tartt among their 100 Most Influential People.

(Bowker Author Biography)


Reviews 3

Publisher's Weekly Review

Widely anticipated over the decade since her debut in The Secret History, Tartt's second novel confirms her talent as a superb storyteller, sophisticated observer of human nature and keen appraiser of ethics and morality. If the theme of The Secret History was intellectual arrogance, here it is dangerous innocence. The death of nine-year-old Robin Cleve Dufresnes, found hanging from a tree in his own backyard in Alexandria, Miss., has never been solved. The crime destroyed his family: it turned his mother into a lethargic recluse; his father left town; and the surviving siblings, Allison and Harriet, are now, 12 years later-it is the early '70s-largely being raised by their black maid and a matriarchy of female relatives headed by their domineering grandmother and her three sisters. Although every character is sharply etched, 12-year-old Harriet-smart, stubborn, willful-is as vivid as a torchlight. Like many preadolescents, she's fascinated by secrets. She vows to solve the mystery of her brother's death and unmask the killer, whom she decides, without a shred of evidence, is Danny Ratliff, a member of a degenerate, redneck family of hardened criminals. (The Ratliff brothers are good to their grandmother, however; their solicitude at times lends the novel the antic atmosphere of a Booth cartoon.) Harriet's pursuit of Danny, at first comic, gathers fateful impetus as she and her best friend, Hely, stalk the Ratliffs, and eventually, as the plot attains the suspense level of a thriller, leads her into mortal danger. Harriet learns about betrayal, guilt and loss, and crosses the threshold into an irrevocable knowledge of true evil. If Tartt wandered into melodrama in The Secret History, this time she's achieved perfect control over her material, melding suspense, character study and social background. Her knowledge of Southern ethos-the importance of family, of heritage, of race and class-is central to the plot, as is her take on Southerners' ability to construct a repertoire, veering toward mythology, of tales of the past. The double standard of justice in a racially segregated community is subtly reinforced, and while Tartt's portrait of the maid, Ida Rhew, evokes a stereotype, Tartt adds the dimension of bitter pride to Ida's character. In her first novel, Tartt unveiled a formidable intelligence. The Little Friend flowers with emotional insight, a gift for comedy and a sure sense of pacing. Wisely, this novel eschews a feel-good resolution. What it does provide is an immensely satisfying reading experience. (Nov. 1) Forecast: Bestsellerdom is writ large for this novel, sure to be greeted with rave reviews. The softspoken, diminutive Tartt, who looks more like a Southern belle than a writer with a dark imagination, should be an asset on talk shows. For more on Tartt, see Book News in today's issue. 300,000 first printing. (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved


Booklist Review

Tartt's second novel (following The Secret History, 1992) is well worth the long wait. It is an exceptionally suspenseful, flawlessly written story fairly teeming with outsize characters and roiling emotion, and at its center, in the eye of the storm, is a ruthlessly clever, poker-faced 12-year-old named Harriet. When she was just a baby, her nine-year-old brother, Robin, was murdered. In the years since, her mother has been entirely defeated by her grief, often lying in bed with a headache, while her father has been absent, working in another town. Harriet's stern grandmother and dithering aunts have idealized and exalted Robin, leaving Harriet and her sister feeling wholly inadequate. After suffering an immense loss--the firing of her "beloved, grumbling, irreplaceable" black maid and surrogate mother--Harriet decides to get revenge on Danny Ratliff, the man she believes murdered her brother. She thinks she can resurrect the happy family she knows only from photographs. With muscular, visceral descriptive prose and a relentless narrative drive--the climax is almost unbearably tense--Tartt details how a young girl exacts street justice with cold cunning. And the abusive Ratliffs are a stunning creation; hopped up on methamphetamine and twisted dynamics, they are a modern-day version of Faulkner's Snopes family. Tartt's first novel was a surprise runaway best-seller; this time around, no one should be taken by surprise. --Joanne Wilkinson


Library Journal Review

It has been a decade since Tartt blazed forth with The Secret History, but it was worth the wait. Set in small-town Mississippi, her new work centers on the family of Harriet Cleve, shattered forever after the murder by hanging of Harriet's nine-year-old brother, Robin, when Harriet was still a baby. Harriet's mother has withdrawn, her father has left town (though he still supports the family), and Harriet and sister Allison are essentially raised by their redoubtable grandmother, Edie, and a gaggle of aunts who, though mostly married, are ultimately "spinsters at heart." Harriet grows up an ornery and precocious child who at age 12 determines that she will finally uncover her brother's murderer. Whether or not she solves the crime is hardly the point; what matters here is the writing-dense, luscious, and exact-and Tartt's ability to reconstruct the life of this family in vivid detail. Harriet in particular is an extraordinary creation; she's a believable child who is also persuasively wise beyond her years. That debut was no fluke; highly recommended. [Previewed in Prepub Alert, LJ 6/1/02.]-Barbara Hoffert, "Library Journal" (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.


Excerpts

Excerpts

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 them, her grandmother's gentle voice and her mother's stern one merging harmoniously with her grandfather's baritone and the babble of her aunts, and certain ornamental bits, improvised by daring soloists, eagerly seized upon and elaborated by the chorus, until finally, by group effort, they arrived together at a single song; a song which was then memorized, and sung by the entire company again and again, which slowly eroded memory and came to take the place of truth: the angry fireman, failing in his efforts to resuscitate the tiny body, transmuted sweetly into a weeping one; the moping bird dog, puzzled for several weeks by her master's death, recast as the grief-stricken Queenie of family legend, who searched relentlessly for her beloved throughout the house and howled, inconsolable, in her pen all night; who barked in joyous welcome whenever the dear ghost approached in the yard, a ghost that only she could perceive. "Dogs can see things that we can't," Charlotte's aunt Tat always intoned, on cue, at the proper moment in the story. She was something of a mystic and the ghost was her innovation. But 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. From the Hardcover edition. Excerpted from The Little Friend by Donna Tartt All rights reserved by the original copyright owners. Excerpts are provided for display purposes only and may not be reproduced, reprinted or distributed without the written permission of the publisher.