Book Review: The Goldfinch by Donna Tartt

26 Mar

goldfinch

 “Caring too much for objects can destroy you. Only—if you care for a thing enough, it takes on a life of its own, doesn’t it? And isn’t the whole point of things—beautiful things—that they connect you to some larger beauty?”

Alright, Donna Tartt. You wrote your first amazing novel while still an undergrad. You dated Bret Easton Ellis. Your latest book has already been optioned for a movie. This is all so annoying.

And yet, I can’t help but love everything you write.

The Goldfinch starts with a tragedy, as thirteen year old Theo Decker’s world falls apart when his mother and he are involved in a bombing at a NYC art museum. In the mayhem, his mother is killed, and he ends up with a famous painting in his possession. This event and the painting looms over the rest of this 800 page book, as Theo scrambles from one tenuous living situation to another, meeting both scoundrels and lifesavers in Las Vegas, NYC and Europe.

The Goldfinch is one of those epic, crazy long novels that spans more than a decade and has idiosyncratic, yet fully-fleshed out characters. Every reviewer wants to compare it to Dickens, which seems totally fair. It is squarely in the world of orphan children, horrible step-parents, and ne’er do well friends who basically live on the streets. The language is gorgeous, the pacing is generally quick for a book of this type, and there are enough larger themes of beauty, art and love to make the book more than just a snazzy tale.

As I read through the reviews on Goodreads, it seems that people are in two camps when it comes to this book. You either love it and think it’s one of the best books of 2013, or you feel that it is vastly overrated, too long and generally not worth reading. As an English major, wannabe Art History minor, high-falutin’ but still likes a good story type, I’m firmly in the first camp. This is a book that I’ll be thinking about for a while, just as I did with Tartt’s other two books.

And now I just get to sit back and impatiently wait another decade or so to read Tartt’s next novel. I’m sure the wait will be worth it.

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2 Responses to “Book Review: The Goldfinch by Donna Tartt”

  1. Jill March 26, 2014 at 7:00 am #

    Am I allowed to be in both camps? I really enjoyed this book and it has stayed with me for the few months it’s been since reading it. I’m glad I read it. But I think it WAS too long and a little overwrought. But in the end, a worthwhile and beautifully written epic.

  2. Laura Rowsell (@LauraRowsell) March 26, 2014 at 3:17 pm #

    I loooooved this book so so much, although I’m not sure it had enough characters to be compared to Dickens! But I literally couldn’t stop reading it, was really sad when it was over and yeah, just generally loved it. It’s pretty great.

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