Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Book Review: The Goldfinch by Donna Tarrt

Theo Decker is a thirteen year old boy who somehow survives an accident that has killed his mother. When he is displaced and begins living with a friend's family on Park Avenue in New York City, he clings to every cherished memory of his mother, especially one particular painting whose mystery drives him to the underworld art scene of NY. After he is feeling settled with this family on the Upper East Side, his estranged father shows up and takes him to Vegas to live there... and his life begins to spiral out of control from there.
“When I looked at the painting I felt the same convergence on a single point: a glancing sun-struck instance that existed now and forever. Only occasionally did I notice the chain on the finch's ankle, or think what a cruel life for a little living creature--fluttering briefly, forced always to land in the same hopeless place.” 

Tartt writes with great detail about this underworld, all of its mysteries and the obsessive, passionate characters it encapsulates. This is the kind of book you cannot put down... the writing is enchanting, the characters are vividly well-rounded, complicated, mesmerizing and personable. I had never read anything by this author, and was pleasantly surprised by her writing. As you all know, I am an avid reader... I read every chance I get, devour new books and savor old ones, I read a book per week, and am happiest when I'm in the middle of a great book. So I've read my share of beautiful fiction. BUT this is one of those amazing books that affirms my faith in writing, that shocked me with its power and poise, and has really taken my breath away with its magnetism.

“ we rise from the organic and sink back ignominiously into the organic, it is a glory and a privilege to love what Death doesn't touch.” 

Theo is essentially running away from something throughout all the 700+ pages of this novel. His character is so well done, one of the best protagonists of all time. Boris, the Russian, is my favorite character... mostly because he is Theo's salvation and his downfall, but also because his voice is so strong and unique. Parts of this book definitely drag, but others are so suspenseful and captivating it will blow you away! 

"A great sorrow, and one that I am only beginning to understand: we don't get to choose our own hearts. We can't make ourselves want what's good for us or what's good for other people. We don't get to choose the people we are."

This book is about everything. There is misery and loss, but there is also love. There is philosophy, drug abuse, childhood, pain and survival. There is family, friendship, grief and beauty. There is humanity, addiction and sorrow. I've never come across a book that covers so much ground, so well. This book is a work of art... definitely a masterpiece!  

“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.” 


  1. A very compelling review... makes me want to buy the book and start reading tonight. I think I will!

  2. Just finished this book and went back to read your review because I remembered you reviewed i. Great review of a great, beautifully written book.