Book Review: The Goldfinch

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Reading through a downpour in Mexico City

The Goldfinch, Donna Tartt

Lizzie Rating: A-

The Goldfinch has been all the buzz in the book world. Stephen King, in his NYT review of the book, compared it to “the best of Dickens”. The staff reviews at my local bookstore were overflowing. Everyone is reading this book. And who am I to turn down being part of the In Crowd?

Theo Decker is a teenager living in New York City with a mother he adores. One morning, en route to a “conference” with the school administration, Theo and his mother are caught in the Metropolitian Museum of Art when it is struck by a terrorist attack. Theo survives. His mother does not. In a haze, Theo escapes with a painting. The novel follows Theo’s next ten years as moves between Fifth Avenue, the forgotten suburbs of Las Vegas, and a weather worn furniture shop in the West Village. He struggles with keeping his mistakes a secret while his mother is never far from his mind.

The scale of the novel is remarkable: ten years, multiple countries, dozens of characters. Tartt does an impressive job of making the characters robust and compelling. Their motivations are real, even the points where you just want to shake them. I found the plot slow in parts. A long novel like this will have ups and downs as the story lines weave, come together, and part again. I found Theo and Pippa’s relationship to suffer acutely from this problem. Other sections, especially the stretch in Las Vegas, were similarly slow. And yet, I would recommend this book. It is a story worth having an opinion about.

I know many of my gentle readers have finished The Goldfinch, tell me what you thought.

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3 thoughts on “Book Review: The Goldfinch

  1. I had to power through the slow chunks of the book, but the good bits made it worth it. I think it was primarily a pacing problem. But all of the characters are full of depth and worth spending some time with. I’m a big fan of Hobie.

  2. Pingback: 2014 Goals: July | Liz Takes the World

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