The Goldfinch by Donna Tartt

5 Sep

I cannot explain how thankful I am that this ARC was passed along to me. Though it took me a month and some change to read this 700+ page masterpiece, I am happy to report that I thoroughly ADORED this book.

“The Goldfinch” was a tough read in the beginning for me. We open with Theo Decker, in a hotel room in Europe, looking back on the day it all began; the day that would eventually take us back to this mysterious hotel room; Theo a depressed and suicidal man. Theo talks about the year his mother died, the day in fact. Theo and his mother went to an art museum, there was an explosion, and the facts of that day lead Theo to stealing a very famous and very much intact painting after the explosion. We see everything through Theo’s eyes which is absolutely frustrating and intriguing at the same time–we both know and don’t know what Theo knows and doesn’t know about the explosion and about the painting.

We are then whisked away to Las Vegas, with Theo, where he will presumably live out his life with his father, an alcoholic now hooked on drugs, and his father’s girlfriend, a woman who has a dog she barely takes care of, a fuzzy resume, and, of course, barely tolerates the fact her boyfriend has a teenaged son.

The fact that this novel is not LONGER than 700 pages is amazing. The toughest part for me was the beginning when Theo’s mother dies and his wild grief that follows. Having just lost my mother earlier this year I found myself extremely emotional while reading these pages: so be warned, this could be emotional for you, too!

Otherwise, Tartt has become my new favorite author. The way that she writes and so easily allows the characters to be who it is that they are and will be is a a particular magic act I sadly see so rarely in novels anymore. Theo’s heart is broken, fractured, and high MOST of the book, but there it is, always in the right place. For that we follow Theo from one bad decision to the next because we have to find out:  what will happen to the painting he stole? What will happen to Theo? How can Theo survive to page 300? 500? 700? Will he get over the loss of his mother? Will he recover from all of the losses in his life? What will happen to Theo?

This novel is, for me, the best book of 2013. The writing is spectacular, the story is irresistible, and Tartt makes the characters so real and so alive that I fully expect to meet Theo, Kitsey, and Boris right around the corner should I ever travel to New York.

I have not read any of Donna Tartt’s novels but I will now. “The Goldfinch” is a wild and heartfelt meditation on fate, consequences, and art. Theo becomes himself the Goldfinch and by the end of the novel you will find yourself musing alongside Theo about all the things that have occurred during the short life of Theo Decker.


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