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Sep 2014
The Goldfinch - Donna Tartt - Little, Brown, 2013 (Kindle edition)
* * * *
Donna Tartt really needs to publish more often. Each of her books has been good but each has had flaws that stop them being classics. This one is no exception. The writing is mostly brilliant; there are some lovely and original turns of phrase and the characterisation is as strong as in her previous works. But there are problems with the book's structure and a few inconsistencies in the telling that grate.
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Nov 2007
The Little Friend - Donna Tartt - Bloomsbury, 2002
* * * *
This is another American family drama featuring basically unsympathetic characters, but unlike The Corrections I thought that this one was pretty good. Quite why it appealed when the other didn’t I’m not sure - Tartt has an exceptionally vivid style which perhaps makes the characters easier to envision and therefore easier to engage with, if not care about. This is just as well, because plot-wise and stylistically the book is another attempt at genre-melding that doesn’t quite come off.
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03 Nov 2004
The Secret History - Donna Tartt - Penguin 1993
* * * *
Donna Tartt's story is set in a New England college and her protagonists are a snobby clique studying ancient Greek under an eccentric professor. This setting is bound to appeal to anyone who has had an Oxbridge/Ivy League education, which would include, I would guess, the majority of literary critics writing for the national newspapers and magazines in the US and Britain. So it is not surprising that this book received rave reviews when it first came out (clever woman...). This may explain why the blurb on the back describes it as "truly deserving of the accolade Modern Classic". Yes, well, very good it certainly is, but a classic it is not.
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