BOOK FROM YOUR FAVOURITE AUTHOR
Donna Tartt’s The Little Friend
A real Southern Gothic crime thriller narrated by an eleven-yearold Harriet.
When Harriet was a baby he older brother was found hanging from a tree in their yard during a family gathering. A decade later, Harriet is determined to find her brother’s killer and finds herself drawn into the terrifying adult world of drugs, politics, violence and family secrets.
Tartt’s first novel, The Secret History, will always be my favourite, but I can’t deny that this is a better written and more clearly thought out book.
If you haven’t read it and like a bit of Southern creepiness, I highly recommend.
Donna Tartt’s The Secret History.
I first read The Secret History when I was 19. So many people had recommended it to me and while I was reading it I had people come up to me in cafes, at bus stops, at uni telling me how much they’d loved it. It was the first time I’d had an experience like that with a book. When I finished it I recommended it to everyone I knew. Once, I even kissed a boy because he said it was his favourite book.
I’ve spent the last four years writing my PhD thesis on it and a group of similar novels, which I have termed campus clique crime novels.
It’s not a perfect book. The second half needs a good edit. But it has all my favourite literary tropes: an elite, highly romanticised campus setting; a precocious student clique with a dark past; murders; countless literary allusions to all my favourite books; evocative descriptions you want to read over and over; tragedy; youth; beauty.
Best of all, it has Henry Winter. He was my first encounter with a Byronic bad boy. My journal from the year I first read The Secret History is full of sketches of how I imagined Henry might look.
Now that I’m older than Tartt’s characters, I can see them and their actions for what they really are. I can see the book for what it is. And it seems silly to wish I were Camilla, running havoc through the woods with her ‘suit of dark Jacks, dark King and Joker’.
But I will never forget sitting on a grassy slope in my own uni campus with The Secret History in my hands for the first time. I’ll never forget how decadent it felt to be reading that story, to be egging the characters on and secretly delighting in their monstrous behaviour.