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Bestselling author Donna Tartt returns with a grandly ambitious and utterly riveting novel of childhood, innocence and evil The setting is Alexandria, Mississippi, where one Mother s Day a little boy named Robin Cleve Dufresnes was found hanging from a tree in his parents yard Twelve years later Robin s murder is still unsolved and his family remains devastated So it is that Robin s sister Harriet unnervingly bright, insufferably determined, and unduly influenced by the fiction of Kipling and Robert Louis Stevenson sets out to unmask his killer Aided only by her worshipful friend Hely, Harriet crosses her town s rigid lines of race and caste and burrows deep into her family s history of loss Donna Tartt always gives meinformation than I need Two people will be talking and you get a description of all the furniture in the room, a description of what s on TV, a description of what s going on outside the window, sometimes a memory, sometimes a dream before the dialogue is resumed Thus it can take pages for two characters to exchange four lines of dialogue In this novel she also gives me too many characters As always with Tartt it s crime that motors this novel In particular Donna Tartt always gives meinformation than I need Two people will be talking and you get a description of all the furniture in the room, a description of what s on TV, a description of what s going on outside the window, sometimes a memory, sometimes a dream before the dialogue is resumed Thus it can take pages for two characters to exchange four lines of dialogue In this novel she also gives me too many characters As always with Tartt it s crime that motors this novel In particular the effect a mysterious murder has on the family of the dead boy Harriet, the boy s younger sister, is at times a riveting portrait of troubled female adolescence Her home life in a forsaken claustrophobic deep southern town was often brilliantly evoked There s a compelling portrait of a black housekeeper not the usual sentimentalised fairy godmother figure of Hollywood who adores her little white wards but a mother so pinched by poverty and exploited by the family that she has little real affection to spare Tartt is also a master at creating suspense When she introduces into the narrative a born again preacher with crates of poisonous snakes the impulse is to get those pages turning quicker to reach the scene when the snakes are let loose, as we know they will be But in this novel the denouements of the created suspense often fell a bit flat for me, sometimes straying into cartoonish melodrama In fact the best parts of this novel were those depicting the inescapable claustrophobia and loneliness of life in an environment that has been forsaken The high octane cinematic set pieces by comparison felt forced, superimposed Ultimately there was a sense for me that the frame of this novel was too large for its canvas The only thing keeping this novel together is the binding. Currently reading this one and all I can think of is a passage from a writing fiction manual that I read The guy who wrote the article said that he once wrote a whole book and his publisher told him that it was good back story, it was good for the AUTHOR to get to know his characters so when he wrote about them they d be 3D and real but it wasn t necessary for the readers to know most of the stuff that was written You can remove a lot of the bulk from that first draft and keep it to yourself Currently reading this one and all I can think of is a passage from a writing fiction manual that I read The guy who wrote the article said that he once wrote a whole book and his publisher told him that it was good back story, it was good for the AUTHOR to get to know his characters so when he wrote about them they d be 3D and real but it wasn t necessary for the readers to know most of the stuff that was written You can remove a lot of the bulk from that first draft and keep it to yourself in your notes Things such as the character s births, clothing preferences, favourite foods and colours, hates, loves and so on.Tartt s work reminds me of that so many of the pages that are unnecessary, there s so much that could have been cut out but the thing is, I enjoy it I really do I wouldn t like it if every book that I read was as verbose and wandering as Tartt s, but I do so enjoy reading something like this on occasion It reminds me of how much I enjoy language and the craft of beautiful sentence structure, description how much I ve always enjoyed story telling about people and their surroundings I finished this book last night and when I read the final sentence, my mouth dropped open slightly, the book dropped from my hand onto the floor and I rolled over, squeezing my eyes shut in hopes that I would go immediately to sleep and not come on Goodreads and spew forth wtf s.This woman knows how to write She s great at it But she goes frickin NOWHERE with ANY of it It s unbelievable So unbelievable that I spent the entire book literally saying out loud, Oh.My.God, in reference to her superb ability to spew forth wonderfully crafted sentences and paragraphs about nothing NOTHING Anyone that can write an entire book about nothing is some type of wonderbeast Don t get me wrong, I m not attacking her for this I m really just astounded at her mad skills at weaving elaborate, wandering tales.I even thought, dude, this has to building up to some climatic ending and holy shit, if you ever get that far you will probably have the same astounded expression on your face as I did There were so many times in this book while I was reading that I said to myself in my head This.Lady.Is.Unfuckingbelievable Four, five, TEN pages could pass without anything happening YOU COULD SCRAP THESE PAGES and not know any better Get someone to do that, get someone to rip every other ten pages out and you will never know what you have missed, plot wise at least.There were sooo many moments where I d be like, dude, how is this even relevant or necessary WHY CAN T I STOP READING The entire book waffle Amazingly crafted prose that goes nowhere I felt like I was having to force myself through some of it, even though I was interested I just wanted things to regularly happen and when they didn t, I got restless I d measure how much I had left to go and groan Sometimes I d pick my book up and realise that I was holding it upside down yet I d been staring at the page for a minute or two Sometimes I realised I d written a to do list in my head, planned dinner, said the alphabet backwards and counted to 100 in French whilst having turned four or five pages I slept, ate and drank whilst holding this book open and staring at the page through my eyelids But at the same time, I felt this inner battle, this conflict because I was bored BUT I WAS JUST SO GOD DAMN INTERESTED It is a massive pile of words Tasty, heavy, Southern saturated wordy goodness.This entire review waffle Poorly constructed sentences that are trying to make a point Something to do with too much sleep, not enough caffeine on rising I won t be forgiven, but Tartt will Besides from ranting about Tartt s waffle which another reviewer describes as this book being a reading experience a nifty way of describing it, this book really is good You really do experience this novel it s really nothing like any other book that I have read The characters are the most dimensional, REAL people that I have encountered in a long time I felt like I was there, I felt the heat, I heard the snakes, I almost felt like I could touch every part of Harriet s house I loved the relationships between the people and the descriptions of everything Basically, I loved everything about this book except for the fact that nothing happened, and there s basically no resolution to any of the issues raised in the book but because of how well crafted it all is, I forgive her This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers To view it, click here This book, quite honestly, infuriated me The opening chapter is stellar and haunting so much so that I slogged through 500 pages on its promise alone Anyone beginning this novel will rightly so expect a Southern Gothic murder mystery The premise at least the one outlined on the dust jacket has so much potential set in a sleepy backwater Mississippi town, it follows the adventures of an overly precocious girl from a fallen plantation family think Scout Finch meets Nancy Drew who This book, quite honestly, infuriated me The opening chapter is stellar and haunting so much so that I slogged through 500 pages on its promise alone Anyone beginning this novel will rightly so expect a Southern Gothic murder mystery The premise at least the one outlined on the dust jacket has so much potential set in a sleepy backwater Mississippi town, it follows the adventures of an overly precocious girl from a fallen plantation family think Scout Finch meets Nancy Drew who has vowed to find and punish her brother s killer However, the novel s momentum is quickly stalled by chapters and chapters of Abject Naturalism scene after scene of lush, dramatic, heady descriptions, microscopically attentive odes to Southern hallmarks like kudzu, honeysuckle, bickering maiden aunts, decrepit railroad tracks, sassy black maids, biscuits with maple syrup, poor white boys who look like they could have stepped out of a Confederate tintype, etc At first, I patiently waded through these indulgent and often silly window dressings, encouraged ever so slightly by Tartt s prose style However, Tartt takes unforgivable advantage of her linguistic flair, so much so that the suspense totally evaporates, and the true engine of the novel the mystery and romance of the murdered brother essentially gets lost among innumerable, inconsequential, floridly written digressions, all of which do nothing to advance the narrative I carried 500 pages of information around in my head, determined to sniff out clues and sleuth alongside our protagonist only to find, in the end, that it was a futile venture