The Little Friend

After trying, with no luck, to get into two novels – found one contrived and the other unengaging – I finally settled on Donna Tartt’s The Little Friend. It is refreshing: the blurb establishes that it is essentially a murder mystery, but the writing is delectable. And it’s set in a small town in Mississippi – I’ve noticed that I haven’t read many novels set in rural America.

One passage:

“Family wisdom had it that Edith, despite her dazzling and varied fields of competence, enjoyed no great gift with children. She was proud and impatient, and her manner did not encourage warmth; Charlotte, her only child, always ran to her aunts (Libby, particularly) for comfort, affection, reassurance. And though Harriet, the baby, had yet to show little in the way of preference for anyone, Allison was terrified by her grandmother’s brisk efforts to prod her out of silence, and cried when she was taken to her house to stay (6).”

It’s difficult to reproduce in excerpts but I like how she links things, and every now and then I say to myself “I know how that feels.” The prologue piqued my interest; that’s the only bit I’ve read, but this review dampened my hopes:

“After a spectacular prologue which insidiously invokes the horror of the little dangling corpse, Tartt lets her story go off in a thousand directions, yielding 565 pages of Southern Gothic which find their climax on a deserted water-tower with bullets flying and blood spurting. But the truly outstanding passages of the book concern much quieter things, in particular the impact of the original crime on the desolated, fractured household.”

Oh well, let’s see how it goes…

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