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Book Review: The Goldfinch by Donna Tartt

For the first 700 pages this book was the very definition of a page turner. I lugged the 864 page tome around Australia in my hand luggage because I couldn’t bear to be parted with it. From the first tragic chapters – a bomb in a museum, a young child losing their Mother – to that child’s downwards spiral across New York, Las Vegas and Europe. I was truly gripped.

But somewhere in the last few chapters I lost that grip. Much like Theo (now a disturbed adult) I just wanted to end it. I was feeling twitchy and on-edge, like Theo’s drug abuse had affected my nerves too. His ‘best friend’ Boris repulsed me, even the detailed descriptions of furniture and artwork began to (dare I say it) bore me. (I am a Luddite when it comes to these things though – art historians can rightly chastise me for this comment.)

I cannot deny the book is a masterpiece though. All the way through (and I certainly felt compelled to read to the end) I kept thinking what a massive amount of work it must have been to put this together. The craftsmanship of the words, the research, the sheer level of character and plot detail. For that reason alone this is a book worth reading.

This is not just a book you read, but one you feel. The complex characters of the adults who take Theo in – Hobie, The Barbours, his Father – means you never know who to trust. You’re constantly watching Theo’s back, even when he may no longer deserve it. There is a huge cast of characters who have all suffered some kind of loss, it’s hard to decide where your sympathy lies most.

And poor Theo, the story’s tragic hero, I’m afraid my sympathy ran out for him in the end. But maybe, come to think of it, that was Tartt’s plan all along.

Buy The Goldfinch on Amazon from £4.49.

About Author

Travel blogger and freelancer writer who loves boutique hotels and brunching. I've been blogging for 10 years, visited 60+ countries and called London, Sydney, Melbourne and (oh so briefly) New York home at various points during the last decade. Now travelling with a baby and trying to make it as stylish and stress-free as can be!

4 Comments

  • Julia
    August 7, 2014 at 10:41 am

    Interesting, because I actually just gave up on this book after reading the first couple of chapters as a preview on my Kindle. I found the descriptions too lengthy and over-flowery at times and wished the author would get to the point. Maybe I’ll give it another go in the future, but from what I read at the beginning, I feel that it wouldn’t be able to hold my attention for long enough to pursue to the end.

    Reply
    • Jayne Gorman
      August 7, 2014 at 11:01 am

      Very interesting! I felt so harsh even saying my attention swayed at the end as it is such a beautifully written and clever book but I really was ready for it it finish by the end. Maybe give it a few more chapters and see if you can get into it?

      Reply
  • Lynn Titshaw
    October 9, 2014 at 1:34 pm

    Interesting that the book struck the same notes with me as well. I felt as I was reading that this was surely a literary masterpiece, yet I began to dislike the characters and then to lose interest in them. I too just wanted it to end so I could move on. I

    Reply
    • Jayne Gorman
      October 9, 2014 at 10:47 pm

      That’s exactly the way I felt!!! Glad it wasn’t just me being lazy 🙂

      Reply

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