Where do I start in reviewing such a masterpiece? It’s left me feeling accomplished (since it was a hefty book) though not necessarily happier or sadder. Although it has left an impression, I can’t exactly pinpoint where or how 🤷♀️ That’s not to say it’s a bad book because I loved it! From start to finish, the description enticed me and the plot was so detailed.
Initially I picked this book up in aim to defeat my fear of large books. I’ve always avoided books with 600+ pages, especially if their font is small. In a way, it has helped defeat my fear. But the book was so fascinating that I forgot about the word and page count, and became immersed in the plot and characters.
Synopsis (from Goodreads)
It begins with a boy. Theo Decker, a thirteen-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 unbearable longing for his mother, he clings to 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 combines vivid characters, mesmerizing language, and suspense, while plumbing with a philosopher’s calm the deepest mysteries of love, identity, and art. It is an old-fashioned story of loss and obsession, survival and self-invention, and the ruthless machinations of fate.
Theo Decker is our main protagonist. I don’t know whether to love or hate him, but I do dislike him at the very least. In the last few pages he gave a beautiful, poetic passage that seemed to come from a place of wisdom. However, that alone does not counteract the mistakes he made throughout the novel that in my opinion where stupid. Perhaps this is a spoiler, although it doesn’t affect your enjoyment of the novel if you decide to read it: Boris and Theo become really close friends. They have no support from outsiders so are left primarily to their own devices. They turn to drugs and crime in this period of abandonment. It follows them around like a shadow far into their adult life, and hinders their social abilities. The way Tartt describes and develops their characters appears to be incredibly realistic, although I have never known a drug addict/criminal 😅
I took this book slow, despite it being a page-turner. Every sentence was a work of art, and I wanted to savour that as much as possible. However this morning I woke up late, around 8am, sat on the sofa all morning and trundled through 165 pages worth of this novel until I reached the end. Do I regret rushing the last few chapters? Not at all! It felt so right, and I couldn’t put it down even though I tried. I thought, ‘I’ll just go and practise my cello, and come back to this later’ but my eyes kept moving across the page and physically could not stop reading.
My favourite character has to Hobie. If any of you have read this novel, I’d love to know who your favourite was! He took on a father-like role for Theo, and became a solid rock for him to rely on. Unlike Boris, who often slipped away without warning. Ever since I was introduced to Boris I felt wary and did not trust him in the slightest. I don’t think Theo did either!
Theo’s character was believable, and this whole book almost felt like a retelling of a non-fiction story. It’s written in first person, from his perspective, but from other people’s dialogues you could guess that he wasn’t someone to admire. Even up to the last pages, Theo was incredibly pessimistic and brutally honest. However I did like this a lot! Many chapters just sounded like one great old moan, but it was entertaining simultaneously. It made the book more believable and almost made me feel guilty because I’m under blankets with a cup of tea while he’s committing drug abuse and being dragged into a criminal underworld…
The reason I give this book 5 stars is for reasons I’ve just explained, but also the timeline. We see Theo grow from 13 to his mid-twenties! And it’s not as if details have been skimmed over or anything has been missed out because it did make loads of sense.
Bought this copy from a charity shop for £2. Safe to say I’m a happy customer!