Sunday, 20 April 2014

Review: 'The Goldfinch' by Donna Tartt

Here’s the blurb

‘Aged thirteen, Theo Decker, son of a devoted mother and a reckless, largely absent father, survives an accident that otherwise tears his life apart. Alone and rudderless in New York, he is taken in by the family of a wealthy friend. He is tormented by an unbearable longing for his mother, and down the years clings to the thing that most reminds him of her: a small, strangely captivating painting that ultimately draws him into the criminal underworld. As he grows up, Theo learns to glide between the drawing rooms of the rich and the dusty antiques store where he works. He is alienated and in love - and his talisman, the painting, places him at the centre of a narrowing, ever more dangerous circle.

The Goldfinch is a haunted odyssey through present-day America and a drama of enthralling power. Combining unforgettably vivid characters and thrilling suspense, it is a beautiful, addictive triumph - a sweeping story of loss and obsession, of survival and self-invention, of the deepest mysteries of love, identity and fate.’

Pure entertainment

This is a door-stopper of a book at 700+ pages. A greatly entertaining story, I was bereft when I finished and couldn’t choose another book to read for days. Well-deserving of all the accolades.

Well-drawn characters

Theo, his mother, Boris, Hobie, Xandra and Andy are all memorable characters and kept me turning the pages - from Andy's drawling voice telling us about his dislike of boats, to Hobie's stilted and formal manner of speaking. The only character I never got to like or care for was Pippa, but she was off-the-page almost all the time.

Theo’s mother has a strong voice although she is dead from the beginning. When she relates the history of the painting in the museum we are drawn to love it. We see the bird and its chain, and the history of the painting, and want to protect it.

Great settings

I have to say I’m a sucker for great settings. I loved the New York in this book - the restaurants, cafés, parks and museums. Las Vegas was first introduced by the bling, the strip, the cliché, but we were brought with Theo to the suburbs and saw a side of Las Vegas rarely written about.

Hobie’s antique shop is vividly depicted. I can smell the antiques, the wood, the oils. The Barbour’s luxurious apartment on 5th avenue contrasted well with Theo's own New York home.

The devil is in the detail

Although there are sections of this novel that are arguably too detailed and unnecessarily long (the first time Theo gets really drunk in Vegas and does a lot of  stupid things, or the long bus journey with the Popper, the dog), this is a novel that draws you in and you accept the detail because that was what was important to Theo.

There is, however, a long epilogue that felt too preachy and I felt the book would have been better without it, but overall I was entertained and drawn into Theo’s world. I despaired at the hand life had dealt him.

 A wonderful novel to get your teeth into. Winner of the Pulitzer Prize for Fiction 2014. Bravo Donna Tartt.

No comments:

Post a Comment