Tartt serves up third offering to hungry fans
Success, according to Donna Tartt, "seduces people into over-production"; a failing of which she could never be accused. Indeed, she told an interviewer in 2002 that she couldn't think of "anything worse than having to turn out a book every year – it would be hell".
She said this on the publication of her second novel, The Little Friend, which appeared a decade after her bestselling and much-acclaimed 1992 debut, The Secret History, and she has remained true to her word – waiting another 10 years to publish her third novel, The Goldfinch, which is being released next month.
The Mississippi-born author became an overnight sensation with The Secret History, a lengthy and dark tale of obsession and murder on an East Coast campus that sold out its initial print run of 75,000 within a matter of days. However, the long-anticipated The Little Friend, set in the Deep South and also of blockbuster size, fared less well both critically and commercially.
And, therefore, much is riding on the new novel, which will either confirm Tartt's literary status or reveal her as a one-book wonder – the contemporary female equivalent of JD Salinger, and similarly distrustful of publicity.
She shares with him, too, a fondness for young loners, the hero of her new book being a 13-year-old boy who loses his mother in an accident and wanders New York trying to reclaim her memory.
Tartt's publishers are calling it "a haunted odyssey through present-day America" and it will be interesting to see if critics and readers agree.
The most discarded books in Travelodge rooms over the last year have been EL James's Fifty Shades erotic novels – no doubt having fulfilled their function in such seductive surroundings.
The hotel chain also reveals that among the other books most abandoned in its rooms have been Gillian Flynn's Gone Girl, JK Rowling's The Casual Vacancy and autobiographies by Bradley Wiggins and Cheryl Cole. Those last two I can certainly understand.