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The Goldfinch: A Novel (Pulitzer Prize for Fiction) [Hardcover]

Donna Tartt
3.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (149 customer reviews)
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Book Description

Oct. 22 2013 National Book Critics Circle Award: Fiction Finalists

"The Goldfinch is a rarity that comes along perhaps half a dozen times per decade, a smartly written literary novel that connects with the heart as well as the mind....Donna Tartt has delivered an extraordinary work of fiction."--Stephen King, The New York Times Book Review

Theo Decker, a 13-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 longing for his mother, he clings to the 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 is a mesmerizing, stay-up-all-night and tell-all-your-friends triumph, an old-fashioned story of loss and obsession, survival and self-invention, and the ruthless machinations of fate.

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"Dazzling....[A] glorious, Dickensian novel, a novel that pulls together all Ms. Tartt's remarkable storytelling talents into a rapturous, symphonic whole and reminds the reader of the immersive, stay-up-all-night pleasures of reading."--Michiko Kakutani, New York Times

"The Goldfinch is a rarity that comes along perhaps half a dozen times per decade, a smartly written literary novel that connects with the heart as well as the mind....Donna Tartt has delivered an extraordinary work of fiction."--Stephen King, The New York Times Book Review

"The Goldfinch is a book about art in all its forms, and right from the start we remember why we enjoy Donna Tartt so much: the humming plot and elegant prose; the living, breathing characters; the perfectly captured settings....Joy and sorrow exist in the same breath, and by the end The Goldfinch hangs in our stolen heart."--Vanity Fair

"A long-awaited, elegant meditation on love, memory, and the haunting power of art....Eloquent and assured, with memorable characters....A standout-and well-worth the wait."--Kirkus (Starred Review)

About the Author

Donna Tartt was born in Greenwood, Mississippi and is a graduate of Bennington College. She is the author of the novels The Secret History and The Little Friend, which have been translated into thirty languages.

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Customer Reviews

Most helpful customer reviews
17 of 17 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars "Playing a Poor Hand Well" Feb. 3 2014
By Jeffrey Swystun TOP 50 REVIEWER
It is not very often that one wants a book of over seven hundred pages to continue. Many reviews, both professional and amateur, have railed at the length of The Goldfinch. Some suggest that a greater economy of words would have served better. I disagree. Tartt writes with a rich elegance that illuminates even the darkest subject matter. As we follow young Theo from tragedy to tragedy, commencing with a highly indiscriminate terrorist attack, the words build upon each other creating an increasingly layered world.

Understandably Theo is overwhelmed with what that world delivers, “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.” It seems that all poor Theo accumulates is loss. Yet, when we look closer he is actually acquiring assets of experience and benefits of relationships whose value is priceless.

Theo begins to discover this and rather than expecting or running from his plight, he contextualizes, accepts and begins to accept it as making sense. Life may well be "about about playing a poor hand well.” As he plays his hand, Theo interacts with some amazing characters. Tartt has assembled a modern Dickens-like cast that are colourful, engaging and endearing. Boris, his Ukrainian high school chum, is a bluntly wise and risk-taking Artful Dodger. The seemingly dreadful Barbours are worthy of their own novel and the reader's empathy. I brightened every time Hobie, the kindly artisan, appeared on the page. Resolutely calm, patient and measured, Hobie is the epitome of old world charm and trust.
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48 of 51 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars "A TRENCHANT, DEFIANT, ENGROSSING NOVEL" Oct. 24 2013
By Gail Cooke TOP 50 REVIEWER
If you read but one book this year let it be The Goldfinch, seven years in the writing and well worth every day of waiting for the incomparable pleasure it brings. Donna Tartt’s prose sings, dances, makes you smile and breaks your heart. Each word is carefully chosen, so perfect in placement that it is as if a master craftsman had set it there. And why not? Tartt is a master craftsman creating fully drawn characters and revealed to us in all of their complexities. We not only see them but share their ruminations as they reveal their thoughts on life, love and the power of art.

At heart this is the story of New Yorker Theodore Decker and The Goldfinch, a painting by Dutch master Carel Fabritius. We meet Theodore or Theo at the age of 13 when he and his beloved mother take shelter from a rainstorm in a museum. His mother means everything to Theo and when she is killed in a horrific explosion at the museum he realizes “...the daily, commonplace happiness that was lost when I lost her.” For him that is so true. Somehow he manages to escape the carnage physically sound but psychologically damaged. He takes with him the Fabritius painting, an object that becomes as necessary to him as breath. But how can he keep it when eventually the world will be looking for the masterpieces lost in tragedy?

Initially Theo returns to the apartment that he shared with his mother sure that she will return. But once convinced that she is dead he ricochets from place to place, steps ahead of the social service workers. His father deserted the family years ago, and he is alone. Theo finds a temporary home with a wealthy family on the Upper East Side, the Barbours, whose son Andy had been a playmate of Theo’s years before.
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10 of 10 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Devastating Dec 16 2013
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
I wish it could have gone on for ever. The characters quickly enter your heart and it was with reluctance that I finished reading this novel. Events are less well documented but character development is masterful. Tartt's book is well deserving of its accolades.
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18 of 19 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Perfection. Nov. 29 2013
By shelley
This is a big, dazzling novel, over 700 pages and expertly crafted. Both an insanely compulsive tale of the twisted path a young man's life takes after it is forever changed by a violent event, and a meditation on family, love, and the enduring power of timeless works of art. With Boris, the protagonist's best friend and partner in crime, Tartt has created easily one of the most memorable and original characters in literature that I've met in years. Absolutely fabulous - this is the kind of book you wish you could read for the first time again and again.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars For the love of the language Feb. 6 2014
By Vlad Thelad TOP 500 REVIEWER
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
Considering how eclectic my reading list is, I often think I do not read enough fiction. Truth be told, personal taste is much more of the equation when reading fiction, and preceding great reviews or awards are no guarantee of a book fulfilling your expectations. All this to say, that it was with some hesitation that I plunged into the almost eight hundred pages of The Goldfinch, and how incredibly happy and rewarded I am for it. This is an extraordinarily well written book. It is not easy, at times it is hard, disturbing even, which attests to the power of words in creating and describing characters, feelings, sceneries and scenarios. It is a book you cannot rush, but can hardly put down. Allow to me to round up this mini-review with a bombastic statement: this is a contemporary masterpiece!
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Most recent customer reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars Did not see this one coming
This book (without exxageration) changed my life. I can't say enough good things about it, it brings perspective that so many people lack... Read more
Published 4 hours ago by Megan E. Hof
4.0 out of 5 stars Very good. waiting for your next
Very good .waiting for your next.
Published 8 hours ago by Larry Rushford
3.0 out of 5 stars the Goldfinch
Definitely not my favorite book very long and many boring patches
Really needed some editing after reading 900 odd pages I expected a punch line BUT
There really wasn't... Read more
Published 3 days ago by rusty
4.0 out of 5 stars deep
Good book. Highly recommended book. I really enjoyed reading this book. I have 9 words remaining on this review. Enjoy!
Published 5 days ago by joe
4.0 out of 5 stars Wonderful - in parts
Wonderful - in parts. The opening is heart-stopping. After that the book is Dickensian, with closely observed people and places from all over the world. Read more
Published 5 days ago by Christina Agrell
3.0 out of 5 stars Not yet finished but sort of drags a bit. ...
Not yet finished but sort of drags a bit. The main character draws you in and you feel desperately sorry for him.
Published 9 days ago by Mary Cosentino
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
Excellent read. Thoroughly enjoyed it.
Published 10 days ago by Richard Young
5.0 out of 5 stars Time well spent.
Mesmerising, thoughtful, and entertaining! I found the characters believable, the story current and the history enlightening. Take time to enjoy this novel.
Published 11 days ago by Carla McColl
1.0 out of 5 stars a waste
seeig all these positive reviews, I bought this book. how I regret it, I cannot even begin to describe. There is not much story going on there. Read more
Published 11 days ago by The reader
4.0 out of 5 stars Lived up to the hype
I had read lots of reviews and had been eager to finally read this book. A couple of friends hadn't liked it and so I approached it with some trepidation. Read more
Published 12 days ago by Philippa
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