Goldfinch, The

Donna Tartt
The author of the classic bestsellers The Secret History and The Little Friend returns with a brilliant, highly anticipated new novel.Composed with the skills of a master, The Goldfinch is a haunted odyssey through present day America and a drama of enthralling force and acuity.It begins with a boy. Theo Decker, a thirteen-year-old New Yorker, miraculously survives an accident that kills his mother. Abandoned by his father, Theo is taken in by the family of a wealthy friend. Bewildered by his strange new home on Park Avenue, disturbed by schoolmates who don't know how to talk to him, and tormented above all by his unbearable longing for his mother, he clings to one thing that reminds him of her: a small, mysteriously captivating painting that ultimately draws Theo into the underworld of art. As an adult, Theo moves silkily between the drawing rooms of the rich and the dusty labyrinth of an antiques store where he works. He is alienated and in love-and at the center of a narrowing, ever more dangerous circle. The Goldfinch is a novel of shocking narrative energy and power. It combines unforgettably vivid characters, mesmerizing language, and breathtaking suspense, while plumbing with a philosopher's calm the deepest mysteries of love, identity, and art. It is a beautiful, stay-up-all-night and tell-all-your-friends triumph, an old-fashioned story of loss and obsession, survival and self-invention, and the ruthless machinations of fate.

Reviews

Reviewed: 2018-11-16

I normally paint myself as someone who will trade a decent plot for beautiful prose, but perhaps I have found my limit for that as being somewhere around 300 pages.

I don’t think I’m treading new ground to say I thought The Goldfinch would never end. There is such a thing as too much perfection. Tartt has a magic about her writing - without any obvious brush strokes, you are in a scene - you can see and smell and feel everything. She is a master at “show, not tell,” without being a diva about it and insisting on hitting high notes just for the sake of showing she can. But when the plot can be summarized in just over 1600 words on Wikipedia, and the book is nearly 750 pages long, you have to wonder if there couldn’t have been an in-between?

I liked the first part of the book, my introduction to Tartt’s writing - but there were unbelievable moments even then. After a terrorist bomb takes out a museum, the narrator - a 13 year old boy, is not only the only survivor from his area of the museum, but he gets out without running into any responders and is shooed away from the site without anyone noticing he was obviously a victim. I’m not sure if we’re to think Theo is an unreliable narrator from the very beginning, or if it only requires the suspension of disbelief to proceed. While I realize social services is rarely perfect, dealing as they do, with the most imperfect of situations - there are enough adults and enough money involved that being sent off with an obviously unstable parent is implausible at best.

From there the story declines into just about every drama you can think of: child abuse, gambling, alcoholism, drug use and distribution, adultery, racism, art theft, international intrigue, unrequited love, wealth, terrorism, and gangs, to name a dozen. Almost no characters are likable by the end of the story, save Hobie.

All the same, I’m still interested in trying out Tartt’s other works, including The Secret History. But I might just double speed the audiobook through any lengthy narration.
Reviewed: 2017-07-26
It's a miracle, I finally finished it!
Definitely worth the read, but it takes a while.
I have conflicting thoughts about this book.
Pros: Character description and depth -- off the charts! Even the secondary and minor characters were so alive. Themes explored about life and fate were awesome. Would love to know how much research she did and in some many different aspects.
Cons: Pacing -- Seriously. This came to a grinding halt several times in the story for me. This shouldn't happen in a novel of this caliber. Just getting to the first plot point was grueling. I'm just glad I didn't stop reading because I was tempted several times.
Reviewed: 2017-03-10

People seem to love or hate this book. I really enjoyed it. It is, without a doubt, very dark. 
-mm

Reviewed: 2016-11-01
read
Reviewed: 2016-01-14
Every bone in my body aches after finishing this, in the best possible way.
Reviewed: 2015-05-14
I went back and forth on whether or not to give The Goldfinch 4 or 5 star review. I'm sticking with 5 because, although it has its flaws and at times frustrated me, it's one of those books that sticks with you and it is beautifully written. The book is long, no doubt about that, but it's a good long. You see what Theo does after his mom dies as a teenager and his feelings toward the painting then when the time jumps happens and he's 10 years older you understand why adult Theo is the way he is, I loved that. The book also makes you think about what would you do in his situation with the painting, especially after hearing other people being caught and sentenced to jail (I think most people would just destroy the painting) and then the end is just a mind fuck of everything coming together, is it a coincidence, luck, god? To me that make's this a 5 star book (plus I had no clue that Boris jacked the painting, finding that out was just an OH SHIT moment that doesn't happen enough when reading) when a book can make you think about it when you aren't reading it and develop a new appreciation for something. I really want to see this Goldfinch painting now.
Boris has to be one of the best characters I've ever read. But, man, can he talk ...
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