Charlie Campbell

A Gesture of Defiance

The Little Friend

By

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Joseph Heller was once told that he had never written anything as good as Catch-22; he replied tersely, ‘Who has?’ Donna Tartt, too, has experienced the curse of an immensely successful first novel, which set an unwanted benchmark for future work. Her stylish debut, The Secret History, an icy portrayal of an elite group of university students in Vermont, became a publishing sensation when it appeared in 1992. Its narrator stated in the prologue: ‘This is the only story I will ever be able to tell’ – a remark that proved ironic, in view of the ten-year wait for Tartt’s second novel.

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