Official Synopsis from Goodreads: 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.
Genre: Contemporary Fiction, Literary Fiction
Setting: New York City, Las Vegas, & Amsterdam
My Copy Came From: I purchased a used hardcover from a local library sale.
*** this post contains affiliate links ***
Review: Well written, if a bit long, with vibrant, memorable characters. I loved it! The Goldfinch by Donna Tartt is quite the read! It’s very long (my copy was 771 pages), and very, very wordy. At times the wordiness was way too much, but most of the time I thought the slow build and attention to the characters was worth the time and effort.
Everything was lost, I had fallen off the map: the disorientation of being in the wrong apartment, with the wrong family, was wearing me down, so I felt groggy and punch-drunk, weepy almost, like an interrogated prisoner prevented from sleeping for days. Over and over, I kept thinking I’ve got to go home and then, for the millionth time, I can’t.
I don’t want to say too much about the plot, as I honestly didn’t know much about it going in, just that it was about a painting, and that really worked for me. It lent an air of mystery about the book that I’m not sure I would’ve had had I known more about the plot and the characters.
I will say one thing about the plot that needs to be said. There is a lot of drug use in this book! It is throughout the whole read, so there is definitely a Content Warning for drug use here.
And maybe I was coping awfully well, I don’t know. Certainly I wasn’t howling aloud or punching my fist through windows or doing any of the things I imagined people might do who felt as I did. But sometimes, unexpectedly, grief pounded over me in waves that left me gasping; and when the waves washed back, I found myself looking out over a brackish wreck which was illumined in a light so lucid, so heartsick and empty, that I could hardly remember that the world had ever been anything but dead.
There is a focus on grief, as Theo, our main character, grieves the loss of his mother. It was powerful and strong, and while The Goldfinch gets a bit preachy about life at the end (it IS a Pulitzer Prize winner after all!), it is a well-written story with vibrant, memorable characters. From the cold Mrs. Barbour, to the endearingly frustrating Boris, to the kindly Hobie, and the haunted Theo, The Goldfinch draws the reader in and demands attention. I loved it and can’t wait to see the movie!
Bottom Line: Beautiful and haunting, but a bit too wordy.