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Monday, 16 March 2015

Book Review: The Goldfinch

The Goldfinch by Donna Tartt Review

I picked up Donna Tartt's The Goldfinch a while ago without knowing anything about it apart from that it won the 2014 Pulitzer Prize and it weighs about the same as a small brick. I've only just gotten around to finishing it and my feelings are mixed. With 864 pages it's less of a goldfinch and more of an ostrich (only without the speed) and I'm going to try to keep spoilers to a minimum here, but the sheer size of the thing means I can't say anything without giving away 100 odd pages or so. Bear with me.

The Goldfinch is narrated by Theo Decker, who begins the book as a young teen living in Manhattan with his mother. A horrific tragedy strikes and he's suddenly motherless, stranded and left to fend for himself in the world, moving from house to house, New York to Las Vegas, and with only the company of a small painting he took on the day of the disaster to comfort him. As Theo grows older, however, the stolen painting and his upbringing eventually lead him to a life of dangerous criminality.

There's no denying that Tartt is a beautiful writer. In some of the early pages I struggled to hold back tears and I couldn't understand why this novel had received such negative reviews when it could be so powerfully moving. ...But then Theo grew up and it all went tits up from there. I found all the parts that were completely unrelated to the painting the most compelling to read. It pretty much doesn't feature at all in the first half of the novel and this is where Tartt creates two very vivid and very different images of growing up in Manhattan and Las Vegas, which I thought were fascinating to compare. Then it turned into some sort of crime thriller/metaphysics mish-mash that at times felt very self indulgent and unbelievable. Even with three years of History of Art behind me, I thought there were a little too many painting and furniture descriptions to plod through. 

Would I recommend it? I'm not sure. I didn't love it and I didn't hate it. Actually, some parts I did love and some parts I did hate. The first half was beautiful, riveting and I never wanted her words to end. And then somewhere around the 500 page mark she lost me, reading became a chore and I felt her editor needed to be a bit more ruthless with the red pen. Have you read The Goldfinch? Have you read anything good (or not so good) lately?




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Monday, 16 March 2015

Book Review: The Goldfinch

The Goldfinch by Donna Tartt Review

I picked up Donna Tartt's The Goldfinch a while ago without knowing anything about it apart from that it won the 2014 Pulitzer Prize and it weighs about the same as a small brick. I've only just gotten around to finishing it and my feelings are mixed. With 864 pages it's less of a goldfinch and more of an ostrich (only without the speed) and I'm going to try to keep spoilers to a minimum here, but the sheer size of the thing means I can't say anything without giving away 100 odd pages or so. Bear with me.

The Goldfinch is narrated by Theo Decker, who begins the book as a young teen living in Manhattan with his mother. A horrific tragedy strikes and he's suddenly motherless, stranded and left to fend for himself in the world, moving from house to house, New York to Las Vegas, and with only the company of a small painting he took on the day of the disaster to comfort him. As Theo grows older, however, the stolen painting and his upbringing eventually lead him to a life of dangerous criminality.

There's no denying that Tartt is a beautiful writer. In some of the early pages I struggled to hold back tears and I couldn't understand why this novel had received such negative reviews when it could be so powerfully moving. ...But then Theo grew up and it all went tits up from there. I found all the parts that were completely unrelated to the painting the most compelling to read. It pretty much doesn't feature at all in the first half of the novel and this is where Tartt creates two very vivid and very different images of growing up in Manhattan and Las Vegas, which I thought were fascinating to compare. Then it turned into some sort of crime thriller/metaphysics mish-mash that at times felt very self indulgent and unbelievable. Even with three years of History of Art behind me, I thought there were a little too many painting and furniture descriptions to plod through. 

Would I recommend it? I'm not sure. I didn't love it and I didn't hate it. Actually, some parts I did love and some parts I did hate. The first half was beautiful, riveting and I never wanted her words to end. And then somewhere around the 500 page mark she lost me, reading became a chore and I felt her editor needed to be a bit more ruthless with the red pen. Have you read The Goldfinch? Have you read anything good (or not so good) lately?




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