- Hardcover: 784 pages
- Publisher: Little, Brown and Company; 1st Edition edition (Oct. 22 2013)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 0316055433
- ISBN-13: 978-0316055437
- Product Dimensions: 15.9 x 4.4 x 24.8 cm
- Shipping Weight: 1.1 Kg
- Average Customer Review: 387 customer reviews
- Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #41,246 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
The Goldfinch: A Novel (Pulitzer Prize for Fiction) Hardcover – Oct 22 2013
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An Amazon Best Book of the Month, October 2013: It's hard to articulate just how much--and why--The Goldfinch held such power for me as a reader. Always a sucker for a good boy-and-his-mom story, I probably was taken in at first by the cruelly beautiful passages in which 13-year-old Theo Decker tells of the accident that killed his beloved mother and set his fate. But even when the scene shifts--first Theo goes to live with his schoolmate’s picture-perfect (except it isn’t) family on Park Avenue, then to Las Vegas with his father and his trashy wife, then back to a New York antiques shop--I remained mesmerized. Along with Boris, Theo’s Ukrainian high school sidekick, and Hobie, one of the most wonderfully eccentric characters in modern literature, Theo--strange, grieving, effete, alcoholic and often not close to honorable Theo--had taken root in my heart. Still, The Goldfinch is more than a 700-plus page turner about a tragic loss: it’s also a globe-spanning mystery about a painting that has gone missing, an examination of friendship, and a rumination on the nature of art and appearances. Most of all, it is a sometimes operatic, often unnerving and always moving chronicle of a certain kind of life. “Things would have turned out better if she had lived,” Theo said of his mother, fourteen years after she died. An understatement if ever there was one, but one that makes the selfish reader cry out: Oh, but then we wouldn’t have had this brilliant book! --Sara Nelson
"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 Reviews (starred review)^"It's a classic...If you haven't read it, read it. If you have, read it again."―Andy Cohen, Today Show^"Where to begin? Simply put, I'm indescribably jealous of any reader picking up this masterpiece for the first time. And once they do, they will long remember the heartrending character of Theo Decker and his unthinkable journey."―Sarah Jessica Parker for Goop^"A soaring masterpiece."―Ron Charles, Washington PostSee all Product description
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The narrator, Theodore Decker, is a 13-year-old boy whose life crumbles as he miraculously survives a terrorist attack in an art gallery only to discover that his mother is killed in it. His only link to his mother, and the object which, from then on, infuses his life some sense of purpose, becomes a tiny masterpiece by a Dutch artist which he had taken from the gallery on the day on the attack.
What follows is not, however, a “Book (art) Thief” type narrative, but rather a furious exploration on the meaning of loss, addiction, friendship, art, love, and life itself. In some sense, it is a coming of age novel, but not the Dickens or Salinger style we are used to. Theo may have the making of Pip, Oliver Twist, or Holden, but the 21st century world which he is hurled into makes him a completely different protagonist. The question which Donna Tartt seems to be asking in The Goldfinch not so much, “how to live?”, but whether to live at all. Just take a look at this voluptuous passage in the middle of the book:
"...depression wasn’t the word. This was a plunge encompassing sorrow and revulsion far beyond the personal: a sick, drenching nausea at all humanity and human endeavor from the dawn of time. The writhing loathsomeness of the biological order. Old age, sickness, death. No escape for anyone. Even the beautiful ones were like soft fruit about to spoil…People gambled and golfed and planted gardens and traded stocks and had sex and bought new cars and practiced yoga and worked and prayed and redecorated their homes and got worked up over the news and fussed over their children and gossiped about their neighbors and pored over restaurant reviews and founded charitable organizations and supported political candidates and attended the U.S. Open and dined and travelled and distracted themselves with all kinds of gadgets and devices, flooding themselves incessantly with information and texts and communication and entertainment from every direction to try to make themselves forget it: where we were, what we were. But in a strong light there was no good spin you could put on it. It was rotten top to bottom. Putting your time in at the office; dutifully spawning your two point five; smiling politely at your retirement party; then chewing on your bedsheet and choking on your canned peaches at the nursing home. It was better never to have been born—never to have wanted anything, never to have hoped for anything."
Tartt may be more prolix than Shakespeare, but whose life has not had moments when it feels like “a tale told by an idiot, full of sound and fury, signifying nothing”. You may think that only PTSD and severe addiction which can engender such moods, but I would argue that all of us are addicted to something and loss of a loved one is not matter of option but of time.
I know, all of this may sound depressing, but The Goldfinch is, in the upshot, a novel of hope. Like its non-fictional counterpart in Camus’ Myth of Sisyphus, Theo lives on rolling on his boulder of memory and at times “one can imagine…[him almost] happy”.
The book has been described as "Dickensian" and it certainly qualifies for length. Thirteen year old Theodore Decker, while visiting a New York Art Museum with his mother, somehow survives a terrorist bomb attack which kills his mother and pretty much everyone else around him. He escapes, carrying with him a small painting.
For the next several years we follow Theo`s adventures, first in New York, then Las Vegas, then back to New York, with a short stay in Amsterdam. Along the way he meets up with various characters, the Barbour family who initially take him in. their daughter Kitsey to whom he later becomes engaged, his estranged father and girlfriend Xandra who haul him off to Vegas, Hobie, an antique furniture dealer with whom he becomes business partners, Pippa, the red haired girl who was also present during the bomb attack, and Boris, a Russian sidekick who shares his exploits. Through it all Theo remains obsessed with memories of his dead mother and with the painting which he keeps concealed.
And here is where I have a problem. "The Goldfinch" is, of course , real, painted by Carel Fabritius, a pupil of Rembrandts`, in 1654, and as far as we know has never disappeared from the Mauritshuis Gallery in The Hague for 120 years. I`m not sure why Tartt chose tis picture, other than the fact Fabritius died in an explosion, and to give a title to her book. (I guess she couldn`t call it "The Mona Lisa"). Mixing fact with fiction is a tricky business, and I would have preferred a fictitious object, given that it does not really play a major part in the novel, except for a convoluted, over-the-top sequence near the end. It tends to make the whole work implausible.
It is , therefore, a difficult book to assess, in spite of the glowing reviews. Tartt is an excellent writer, who obviously knows a lot about furniture restoration and the drug culture, both of which play a prominent role in the story. Personally I enjoyed it, in spite of it`s flaws, but not enough to give it five stars. (I liked it, I didn`t love it.)
It will be interesting to see what Ms. Tartt comes up with in 2023.
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