I am her #1 fan. No one can possibly say otherwise.
>>By Hfl (Saturday, 25 Jan 2003 12:57)
To Hfl: I won´t say otherwise. Donna Tartt is a genious!
>>By Aegis (Saturday, 25 Jan 2003 12:57)
I've just finished reading The Little Friend and was very disappointed by the ending. What the heck happened? Did she get epilepsy from the drug?? Did her family end up okay?? I'm so upset - this book definitely did not live up to The Secret History which is my all time favorite book.
>>By Disappointed... (Saturday, 25 Jan 2003 12:57)
I agree, Though beautifully written and hugely moving in places the ending a real dissapointment. Clearly the journey was more important than the destinantion.
>>By cms (Saturday, 25 Jan 2003 12:57)
I disagree with disappointed. I thought the little friend was far better written, better plotted and infinitely more interesting than the secret history: and vastly more subtle. it didn't leave me with any major questions, just a feeling of sadness that it was over and much to reflect on...
I cannot recommend the book highly enough... Don't be put off by the critics is my advice
>>By charlie (Saturday, 25 Jan 2003 12:57)
I was totally blown away by the epilepsy thing. Did it serve to keep Hely honest? I thumbed back through to see if Harriet's ramblings or adventures had been disjointed as one might have expected had she been suffereing from seizures. I was disappointed in the unlikelyturn of events.
>>By Peggy (Saturday, 25 Jan 2003 12:57)
I've just finished reading "The little Friend". Although I was disappointed and upset by the sudden ending of the book, I can't but admire Donna Tartt. This is definitely a story to be continued; there's enough to fill a second book ...
>>By Brigitte (Tuesday, 4 Feb 2003 08:21)
What can I say about The Secret History?
I love that book, more than any book in the world.
>>By Sam (Wednesday, 5 Feb 2003 12:20)
I have no clue what happened in the end of the book. Did Harriet have petite mal epilepsy? Did Robin? Who killed him? Did she have any seizures before? Who killed Robin??? Surely not Danny Ratliff? How could he? What was his motive? What is going to happen to Harriet? How does she know it was Danny? After all, she was having doubts towards the end of the book, wasn't she? Her parents were talking about how Robin and Danny used to play together, and Danny's own train of thought in the book proves him innocent. What happened? What am I not getting?
The book was lucid and extravagent in detail; I enjoyed it, but I feel as though I haven't finished it. I am so frustrated.
>>By Baffled (Wednesday, 19 Feb 2003 03:20)
Of course Donna Tartt is a beautiful and moving writer. I couldn't wait to hunker down and get lost in this book. But, I feel she needed better editing. The writing almost seemed self-indulgent at times, as if to demonstrate just how intimately she knew her characters, over and over and over. I don't need everything spelled out for me in a book, but still the ending was unsatisfying. As a person already commented, the journey was better than the destination.
>>By Sharon (Sunday, 9 Mar 2003 15:46)
While I agree that the writing was a bit florid and at times cumbersome with detail, I disagree that the end was a disappointment. I felt energized by the "re-investigation" of the epilepsy connection. After researching epilepsy, the side effects of drugs given in treatment, and looking back over the text, it truly brought to llife a different narrative perspective. In fact, I was shocked not to have questioned it earlier myself. Tartt was brilliant in her subtle inclusions suggesting a genetic familial connection. After researching true symptoms of epilepsy, I was quick to consider the duality of Harriet's "reality". While there are some unanswered questions, open ended fiction leaves the story to be completed by the reader. A book lives only as long as it is discussed.
>>By Yvonne (Saturday, 12 Apr 2003 00:57)
Harriet didn't have epilepsy. She wouldn't let anyone know about the filthy water she ingested, because she didn't want to get connected to the water tower. The doctors were wrong, just assuming incorrectly, as they often are. Allison witnessed the epilepsy for "10 minutes;" Allison was a nice, pitiful girl who wouldn't know a seizure from a jello fight.
Of course, Danny didn't kill Robin. Discovering Robin's "murderer" became simply a cause for Harriet who otherwise would have gone mad in that dull and dying town. Her imagination and intellect created the whole adventure abetted by Heley, and fed by certain coincidences related to the Ratliff family. Both her books are incredible, and each remarkably dissimilar.
>>By peter alexander (Thursday, 17 Apr 2003 06:52)
Who killed Robin?? It wasn't Danny and I am at the point of rereading the book to see what I missed-=I am also baffled!!
>>By Barbara (Thursday, 1 May 2003 22:35)
I agree with Peter Alexander... Solving the mystery of Robin's death was a raison d'etre in the languorous decay of her home. The tragedy is that she neither solved the mystery, nor did she save herself. "Later, when Harriet remembered that day, it would seem the exact, crystalline, scientific point where her life had swerved into misery." In my reading, this book is about the end of a girl's innocence, the last weeks before she understands the hated words, "That's just how Life is."
Who is Robin's murderer? Jesus, in Tartt's world, by the time you're an "adult," you're content to turn your head and * have an affair; * drink whiskey; * snort meth; * watch your house rot... The only ones who care about the identity of Robin's murderer are the children. The very act of searching destroys the conditions that make such concerns possible.
>>By Pope (Monday, 5 May 2003 07:28)
It is not clear to me either who killed Robin. I had read a press piece long before the book was relesed that mentioned Tartt was working on a novel about a suicide. Could Robin hae killed himself?
>>By Danny Tarttliff (Sunday, 11 May 2003 15:58)
i just want to know her zodiac sign (or the date she was born), does anybody know it?
>>By beli (Sunday, 29 Jun 2003 19:37)
Just began reading The Secret History, seems familiar. Does anyone know if this was made into a movie, perhaps under another name? Thanks,
>>By Mighty (Sunday, 21 Dec 2003 02:33)
Secret History was best book I have ever read - didn't want to start another for a while, so unwilling to surrender the feeling it engendered. So much better that Little Friend, which, by comparison, was full of padding, in my opinion.
Anyone who hasn't read SECRET HISTORY, if you are a real reader, don't delay, get it out of the library or buy it even! You will not regret it.
There were also faint nuances of a Ruth Rendell/Barbara Vine book, in that part of the setting (students, country house etc) seem familiar. Anyone know the title?
>>By bookmad (Saturday, 17 Apr 2004 11:50)
I also agree with Peter Alexander - HArriet didn;t actually have epilepsy...the symptoms matched that, and since she wasn't about to own up that she had just been floating around in the tank, they had no readily available alternative. If the book had continued, I dare say that we would have been shown Harriet recovering fully and the family pondering that "strange spell" Harriet had, that has never recurred.
The ending Tartt has given is a natural consequence of Harriet as the main character. Harriet is doomed never to find the answer - she is a child trying to solve a crime she cannot understand. She does not know where to begin to look for answers to such an unimaginable crime. As smart a child as she is, she cannot comprehend the motives of someone who kills a child - she cannot fathom the reasons behind such a crime, and remains blissfully unaware of the possibilities. She can never fully investigate Robin's death with any real hope of actually solving it, but she of course is unaware of that. She, as a child, starts with her own simple truth - the person who killed Robin is the 'baddie' in town. That is all she can know, so she turns to the town 'baddies', which then leads her into trouble she could not have imagined, and clearly cannot understand.
There are some mysteries that we may never know the answer to. Harriet cannot comprehend the adult world around her outside of her child eyes - the image of the doll on the cover - the eyes that cannot see the 'real' truth, because there isn't (yet) the capacity to comprehend what might have happened.
Harriet sees an adventure in front of her, something to stave off the boredom of her life. She is merely 'acting out' her novels, her Jungle Book, her Melville...searching for the white whale of Robin's death. She is not equipped to actually discover the truth, whatever that may be.
While The Secret History presented us with the answers, The Little Friend presents us with the questions.
>>By astrosodi (Tuesday, 20 Apr 2004 04:09)
I absolutely love The Secret History. I've only read it once so far but I will definitely be picking that one up again. With regard to The Little Friend, yes I have to admit that I too felt the ending was a little abrupt. Having given it some thought I came to the conclusion that Libby's assertion "the world is full of things we don't understand" is key to understanding the novel. Not everything can be fitted neatly into boxes - there are some things we will never and can never know and there are some situations that are just beyond our control. This is what Harriet learns. Indeed, there are many questions in the novel that remain unanswered - why does Alison sleep so much, what thoughts are disturbing Danny Ratliff in his trailer when we first meet him (aside from the amphetamine), what does Harriet see in the old hotel which frightens her and causes her to run and how many of her adventures are obscurred in their reality due to her epilepsy? Finally, who is the Little Friend?
>>By litgirl (Tuesday, 27 Jul 2004 03:15)
It's been almost a year since anyone has added to this discussion, so I hope somebody is still out there. I found "The Little Friend" quite engaging and satisfying with a lot more answers than perhaps the author's being given credit for. While she clearly considered the identity of Robin's murderer to be superfluous to the story (not the point), she does know who did it and gives us some very subtle and fascinating hints, not the least of which is the cover of the book. Why a scary doll with a band of white across the nose of her face? The only reference to a scary doll, and quite abruptly and weirdly out of context at that, was Edie's out of nowhere recollection of Tat's doll, "Lycobus, who was naughty, and sassed her mother; Lycobus, who invited Adelaide's dolls to a tea party, and served them only water and radishes." Edie's recollection: "She could see the tin doll now with a curious clarity: her body brown cloth, her nose glinting a macabre metallic silver where the paint had rubbed away. How many years had Tatty dragged that battered thing with its metal death's head around the yard; how many years since Edie had thought of that eerie little face with the nose missing?... All she could think about was Tatty's ghastly old doll with the silver nose." This is only interesting when we can consider the possibility that Tatty, who doesn't like children, has a dark side... one who talks her into doing terrible things. Note that even in her old age she projects voices into her cat, Old Scratch. "What you doing in here, Bombo?" he said--or, rather, Tatty said for him, in the shrill, insolent singong that she and her sisters had employed since childhood to carry on conversations with their pets. "You scared me to death, Scratch, " she replied, dropping an octave to her natural voice. "I (italicized) know how to open the door, Bombo." Add this to the fact that Tatty (described in a family photo as the "strange, moon-faced Tatty") was the only adult outside with the kids the night Robin died. Every character but Tatty describes in brutal detail her anguish in the aftermath of his death. Tatty's feelings remain a mystery. Lycobus (Tatty) did in Robin in my opinion. To answer litgirl, the Little Friend is Danny, referenced in Harriet's parents' conversation by her bed toward the end. The book is as much about Danny as Harriet, but really about misconceptions of people born of usually innocent inaccurate assumptions.
>>By kenemer (Sunday, 22 May 2005 18:38)
I adore Donna Tartt's novels. And I'm glad she only writes them occasionally. I don't think I can stand that much joy more than every couple of years. I recommend her books to everyone with whom I discuss books.
>>By VoraciousBibliovore (Thursday, 6 Sep 2007 17:35)
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