The Goldfinchby Published 22 Oct 2013
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 combines vivid characters, mesmerizing language, and suspense, while plumbing with a philosopher's calm the deepest mysteries of love, identity, and art. It is an old-fashioned story of loss and obsession, survival and self-invention, and the ruthless machinations of fate.
The Goldfinch Reviews
okay. so i read it. and i don't want to be all gloaty-gus for those of you who still have to wait three whole months to get your hands on a copy, but i will say, in brief, that it is worth waiting for. it is worth waiting three months for, as you knew it would be, but i don't know if i can wait another eleven years for another book.
because she's still got it. it is beautifully written. it is everything you hoped it would be: characters as complicated and nuanced as real people. situations alternately lovely and bleak. story that tightens up as you are nearing the finish line, ripping you into two parts "must find out what happens," and "must read slowly or it will be over too soon."
i read the synopsis of the book pretty much as soon as it was announced, and then carefully forgot what it said, because i didn't want to have anything in my head as i read it. i wanted a complete discovery.
and the synopsis copy was very careful in what it revealed.
so i am going to have to, for now, be as respectfully careful. and maybe i will come back closer to the release date and give more specifics, but i really just want to squee here and be enthusiastic and say: there is so much to like about this book!
for example, there is something that is announced at the beginning of the book: one of the Very Big Things that happens in life. and the scene that culminates in this Very Big Thing is excruciating. in a good way. you know what is going to happen, but you don't know when, or how, and there is such delicious tension and you wait for that other shoe to drop, marveling both at her prose, and her ability to tease you during the whole of that opening chapter. wonderful.
and then after that, there's another 700 pages of wonderful.
boris is perfect and i love him.
the "art underworld" mentioned is way cooler than what you probably usually think of when those words are mentioned. no bored sneers, asymmetrical haircuts and avant-garde attitude here!
everything else i try to write, i just keep deleting. i can't. not yet. i meant to write a "proper" review of this, but everything keeps coming out too specific, too fraught with danger.
just - continue to be excited about this one for now, because it is staggeringly good and i don't want to ruin it with any of my clumsy words just yet.
i have been promised an ARC of this.
who wants to be my friend now???
IT IS HEEEEEERE!!!!
well, hello there, lovely...
771 pages of MINE!
come to my blog!
I, Boris, character in this book will give you honest opinion. Very honest. If you are reading this, asking yourself, should I read this book which is 771 pages? Very heavy, not that The Idiot was not 656 pages, so not length I am afraid of. If you are wondering, should I read? I answer for you already and say no! I am one of best things in book, at least not all the time moody, gloomy and so stupid I do not not even look in package. Even though I am very important character I must tell you, not worth your time to read this. (Okay to read beginning, some middle, end) but if was me, better to be having a pop than all the time reading about depressed guy who wastes so many good drugs. Bad things happen. All the time bad things. Does not mean cannot enjoy life. Does not mean should make many people spend very much money on depressing book. Not to say is not masterpiece to some people but why spend money on this misery. Cannot all own masterpiece. Potter think he is only one lose mother. In book we none of us have mother. Does not take 771 pages to figure this out. I would maybe read this if just 400 pages, as long as there would not be such long stretches without me. Potter needs me all the time. Not good without me. His one girl, Pippa, is smart not to let him make her into mother. If I was my good friend Theodore Decker and could not enjoy life at all I would do better job at killing self.
Also honest opinion on how they say everyone is reading this book. If I tell you jump off cliff, you do it? Many times I drag Potter from middle of road where he claims to be waiting for car. Did I tell him lie in street? No. So I tell you. Only good thing can come from reading this book (maybe not even need to finish) is lots to talk about with people. Much discussion. Maybe if book from library or stolen worth it? But to buy own heavy copy? Could not even drop in canal without Dutch police all over you. Is better this way. "Trust me."
Audible. OH MY GAWD! Who ARE you people giving this 5 star raves? I'm not even half way yet and I'm wondering if I will be able to weather this ridiculously long book that keeps getting sidetracked by just about every teenage pothole you can think of.
And can we talk about motherless orphans? I've lost track of how many motherless main characters are in this book. How can I be this far out of touch with other reviewers?
Halfway thru now. Spending lots of energy trying to be less harsh and trying to enjoy the ride tartt is taking me on. But I am not succeeding. This book is utter ridiculousness. Not believable at ALL. and this morning my friend informed me it was named Book of the Year. I'm speechless.
Three quarters done. Bottom line: Theo has become a very unlikeable guy. The pages and pages of minutia detail -- often building intrigue and suspense -- are pointless and often left unresolved. Reading this book reminds me of watching the tv show Lost. You think "MAN. I wonder how they are going to explain that polar bear!" Only to wait four more years and find out that they never do.
Oh. My. Gosh. I just finished. The ending does not disappoint. What a diaphanous extravaganza of words. Of lists. Of never-ending stream of consciousness pompoonery. Yes. I made that word up. It's the merging of pompous and tom-foolery. Is Tartt serious? Can she really be seriously presenting up this book with a straight face? The ending is... Utterly astonishingly perfectly awful. If you are reading this and wondering if you should finish the book. Yes. Do it. Then report back here. I need the company.
**Update on 4/1/14
After 400+ comments to this review that was never meant for any purpose other than my own entertainment so that I might remember the book, I feel the need to add the following:
To anyone wondering if they should still read this book, since reviewers are so divided (eg you either LOVE it or HATE it) : by all means, YES. Read it! But: if you find you are hating it within 100 pages, just put it down and walk away. Because it won't ever get better for you (Really. do as I say and not as I do: Put. It. Down.). For those who LOVE this book: Good for you! I am truly happy for you. There is nothing better than a book you love! ---Now move along, because the 9+ pages of comments here are for those who don't and will just make you mad. :)
Adult contemporary fiction. The Goldfinch was the book to read last year, so I didn't read it. Happily I corrected that over the last few weeks! It's the story of young Theo whose mother dies in a terrorist explosion at the Metropolitan Museum in New York. In the ensuing chaos, Theo escapes with his mother's favorite painting, The Goldfinch, a priceless Dutch masterpiece that becomes Theo's secret treasure and also the albatross around his neck. The story follows Theo into adulthood, through a series of tragedies and misadventures, until at last, he must face the music in regards to the missing painting. The novel is part coming-of-age story, part mystery, part rumination on the value of a human life versus the value of art. The writing is evocative yet accessible. The characters are wonderfully evoked. Tartt knows how to keep readers engaged with a compelling plot, yet the story is about much more than what happens to Theo and the painting. It's about loss and grief and loyalty. It's a remarkable read. I almost had to stop reading the book when Theo's ne'er-do-well father came on the scene because he was such an ass I wanted to strangle him, but later in the book, Tartt made even that character seem understandable, if not sympathetic. And Boris . . . what a creation! If nothing else, read this book to meet Boris.
The Goldfinch is a brilliant story with memorable characters and most of the book is incredibly well done and fun to read.
"Most" being the operative word.
Tartt needed an editor to cut out a lot of the repetitive detail (Like several other reviewers, I too found myself page skimming -- sometimes the detail is fascinating, oftentimes it's unnecessary and just slows down the story.)
There are a few other nits a good editor could have fixed, e.g. the internet makes cameo appearances but it's inconsistent - characters will make use of it in the way people do in 2013 but then later in the same scene they seem to forget it exists (and there's much more of the latter than the former-- Tartt recently did an interview with the New York Times where she admits to only using the web "to look up phone numbers" and her unfamiliarity is pretty evident, which is a problem in a novel whose main protagonists are 20somethings), a number of key plot points are telegraphed way in advance in a manner that feels more heavy-handed than than skillful, there are minor-but-critical unexplained plot points (e.g. why Theo's mother never considered leaving his father) whose omission seems curious in a novel that goes into such minute detail about everything else. And then of course there are the adult Theo's relationships with women, all of which seem overly chaste and prim and bloodless (especially compared to his relationship with Boris)-- even when he professes otherwise.
There's a lot of Great Expectations in this novel-- I can't imagine it's coincidence that one of the main characters is called Pippa-- and Tartt frequently uses Dickens beloved device of the happy coincidence to move the plot forward. Usually Tartt makes the device work, but there are other times where the plot twists seem plucked from a forgettable TV movie of the week.
The final chapter could also have used some heavier editing--" philosophizing" is a great way to end Theo's story, but the chapter just drags on forever, like a well meaning guest who won't stop saying goodbye.
I gave it 4 stars because it's a really masterful story and the fairy tale quality makes it markedly different from so much of modern fiction. I just wish the editors would have had a heavier hand.