The Goldfinch – Donna Tartt

Let’s start with the obvious – it is a very long book. Because of that I dreaded it a bit, as I rarely abandon books, so if this was a flop I knew it would cost me a lot of time. Luckily it wasn’t. I finally found courage to start on it towards the end of my trip to Spain, because of its length it was the thing that allowed me the smooth transition from vacation back into the everyday, it was the ‘vacation’ thing I continued to do after returning home.

For summary of the plot I’ll send you to Goodreads. It is a difficult review to write, because I liked the book a lot and yet it is not perfect or a classic, but let’s try.

It was a book that pulled me in, I lived in Theo’s world for almost two weeks, moving through it slowly. I’m sure if I was in my day-to-day rushing mode as some points I would become impatient with the pace. Tartt spends a lot of time on details that not always move the story forward, they could probably be called dispensable, but having a lot of time I enjoyed the changing pace. Very slow at the beginning when Theo tells us about his childhood and speeding up towards the end as we catch up with ‘now’. Is the story realistic or believable? Of course not, but I was so immersed in it that I only realised it after finishing the book. Is it well written and engaging? Yes, I instantly connected with Theo and rooted for him. Even if sometimes I wanted to shout at him for doing stupid things and making bad decisions. Theo can sometimes be annoying in his self-pity and drive for self destruction, but never to the point of me wanting to abandon him, more wishing for his mother to step in and sort him out.

Tartt also uses Theo’s story to share more general observations about grief, art, the meaning of fake and original. She manages to keep the story interesting, full of detail and take it to the next level, to talk about the big things, without being pretentious (but sometimes barely).

I think what holds this book together is beautiful writing. It is a pure joy to read Tartt’s prose. She also builds mood very well, from Theo’s early days with his mother, through sun scorched part in Las Vegas where he meets his friend Boris, all the way back to New York, to the insane final section in winter Amsterdam. I felt like I’ve been in all those places together with Theo.

The book was fun and pleasant read even if it was long it didn’t feel like it and I felt a bit lost when I finished and had to look for another book to read. For me it was a good combination of coming of age story, adventure, crime all of it written in wonderful prose. A treat, even if not always overly profound.

I obviously liked the book a lot and there has been a lot of hype about it, but not all readers liked it, so for more diverse perspective here are links to other reviews: My Bookshelf Dialogues, Coral Reef, What I’ve Read Lately, Ally Writes Things, Robert McGrath’s Blog, 10thandnoble, Victoria Elizabeth, cmajorchords, crazybookladyreviews, cupandpaper, The Novel Eater, First Edition Book Babies

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7 thoughts on “The Goldfinch – Donna Tartt

  1. I tend to see more negative reviews than positive with this book but it is still on my list to tackle, maybe when we creep into the dead of winter where I live in upstate NY…two bleak months between Christmas and spring. Your review makes me think that I will like it in the same way I liked The Secret History, which is still haunting me even though I read it quite awhile ago.

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    1. It’s definitely one for long winter evenings when one doesn’t need to rush anywhere. I think a lot of the bad reviews are down to too high expectations, there was so much hype about this book it completely got out of proportion. I think it stads a better chance if approached without expecting an instant ‘classic’. I look forward to your thoughts on it!

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  2. I loved so much about this book – it’s scale, Tartt’s language, how STRESSED it made me feel 90% of the time! But I think what was really well down was that there were so many small details that could have been read as metaphors…or not at all. Because it doesn’t feel like a 700+ page book – it felt more like a page-turner! Like you, I was a little lost when I finished it!

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  3. Pingback: October round-up – bookskeptic.com

  4. Pingback: September round-up – bookskeptic.com

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