Sunday, May 15, 2005

50 Book Challenge #25: The Little Friend

After a long hiatus, I am back in the 50 Book Challenge, thanks to a trip to the Cambridge Public Library. I wasn't able to find more than a half a dozen good books, though, and was shocked to learn that the collections of each branch are static; books borrowed from other branches are immediately returned to their homes, making successive trips to a given branch a bore. Pah. But anyway, I picked up The Little Friend and started reading it right away. My boyfriend said he enjoyed The Secret History quite a bit, but after three years at Harvard I have had enough of pretentious northeastern upper class college students and didn't feel like reading about more of them.

The Little Friend is like a strange mix of Harriet the Spy and To Kill a Mockingbird. I could tell right away that Tartt was from the South; her grasp of Southern social dynamics is acute and her characterizations neatly done, if not overly complex. However, it suffers from a lack of satisfying resolution; as Chekhov might have said, if in the first act you have a (spoiler) nine year old boy hanging from a tree, in the third act we should find out who hung him there. I enjoyed the novel and look forward to future Tartt offerings, but hope that she has not exhausted her store of inspiration after having written one book set in the milieu of her childhood and another in that of her young adulthood.

P.S. Her jacket photo is very beautiful. It reminds me strongly of this portrait, which I love.
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