Book Review: The Goldfinch by Donna Tartt

September 3, 2014 Blog, Blog Tour, Book Reviews, Giveaway 5

Book Review: The Goldfinch by Donna TarttThe Goldfinch by Donna Tartt
Published by Little on October 22nd 2013
Genres: Contemporary, Mystery
Pages: 771
Source: Purchase

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 is a novel of shocking narrative energy and power. It combines unforgettably vivid characters, mesmerizing language, and breathtaking suspense, while plumbing with a philosopher's calm the deepest mysteries of love, identity, and art. It is a beautiful, stay-up-all-night and tell-all-your-friends triumph, an old-fashioned story of loss and obsession, survival and self-invention, and the ruthless machinations of fate.

My Thoughts

Although quite interesting and very well written at times, there were other times when I wanted to just bury my head, stop reading, or go take a nap. It is hard to do a review on a book that I loved at some points and hated at others. There were many times when I wanted to quit reading but I persevered and I only realized at the very end (and the next day) that it wasn’t actually the length of the book but the lack of feeling for the main character among numerous other things that led to my dislike of this book.

Theo is a pain in the ass. There is no other way of saying it. He looses his mother early and this tragedy begins a horrific situation in which he finds himself more often than not, alone and depressed. Many times throughout the reading I asked myself if I remember reading his age and suddenly it would pop up that only a year or two had passed. So I knew he was quite young and with so much going on I don’t expect him to make good choices exactly, but he makes SO, so, so, so, SOOOOOO many bad choices.

And if the bad choices were not the only issue, I think the main reason to dislike this book is that NOT ONE adult told Theo that he was being a pain in the ass. Everyone walks around him like he’s something to worry about and fret over but not too much because the poor kid might break! Things just get worse and he starts stealing, taking drugs, all manner of which should have been taught to him by his non existent guardians. Ugh!!! At this point I obviously wanted to throw my hands in the air and give up entirely… but I soldiered on.

When he finally gets a guardian that seems to care for him even that guardian doesn’t pay attention to his drug addiction or the fact that he is gambling with not only reputation but also money. I just didn’t get it.

Ok, enough with the guardians… let’s talk friends. I mean Boris is ok. I liked him sometimes. But Boris is even worse at times than Theo. These two are not good together. AT ALL. Boris helps Theo to get into trouble multiple times. These two… sigh! Andy is at least half way decent and seems to have a good head on his shoulders. I think I liked him the most. He’s pretty much a geek and I like my friends that way!

And then there is the painting. I loved the idea surrounding the painting and why Theo took it. That part totally makes sense to me. What bugs me a bit about the painting is that we learn (which is awesome) quite a bit but Donna Tartt tends to be quite repetitive with this subject. I found myself losing interest instead of being excited by the artwork.

While speaking of being repetitive… we also learn a lot about drugs, a LOT. Theo is constantly fighting this battle and over and over and over again Donna talks about this battle. I know that this molds who Theo is but it’s the repetitiveness that got to me. Not only that but later in the book someone else brings up his problem with drugs, I mean finally at least someone does but it’s a bit too little too late.

In reality, looking back the book made me a bit miserable. I was worried and anxious for Theo all the time. Is this a good thing that at least the book made me feel something for the main character? I’m really not sure. I do know that I absolutely do not want to read this again even though I did love Donna Tartt’s style of writing. It’s very poetic, even if long winded.

In short! If there is such a thing for this review… The book did surprise me but I came close so many times to putting it down. The ending was the only part, other than the VERY beginning, that I truly enjoyed.

Rating Report
2.5 / 5
Character Development
2.5 / 5
Writing Style
3 / 5
Personal enjoyment
3.5 / 5
5 / 5
Overall: 3.3 / 5


The Author

Donna Tartt (born 23 December 1963) is an American writer who received critical acclaim for her two novels, The Secret History (1992) and The Little Friend (2002). Tartt was the 2003 winner of the WH Smith Literary Award for The Little Friend.

The daughter of Don and Taylor Tartt, she was born in Greenwood, Mississippi but raised 32 miles away in Grenada, Mississippi. At age five, she wrote her first poem, and she first saw publication in a Mississippi literary review when she was 13 years old.

Enrolling in the University of Mississippi in 1981, she pledged to the sorority Kappa Kappa Gamma. Her writing caught the attention of Willie Morris while she was a freshman. Following a recommendation from Morris, Barry Hannah, then an Ole Miss Writer-in-Residence, admitted Tartt into his graduate short story course where, stated Hannah, she ranked higher than the graduate students. Following the suggestion of Morris and others, she transferred to Bennington College in 1982. There she met Bennington students Bret Easton Ellis and Jill Eisenstadt.

5 Responses to “Book Review: The Goldfinch by Donna Tartt”

  1. Rita @ My Home of Books

    I didn’t read this, I don’t want to read this either, but I can understand what you went through. Sometimes it isn’t the length of the book but how the middle third progresses that can make us give up or fall asleep or throw the book against the wall. I am one of those readers that need to have someone in the story to root for, or empathize with, to make me attached to the story. Sounds like you disliked the believability of the MC, so that affected how you felt during the reading. I have had reads like this one several times, so I will pass. Thanks for your honest opinion.
    Rita @ My Home of Books recently posted…Jot It Down! random pics/thoughts 9/2/14My Profile

    • Christina

      If it wasn’t for the damn book club! And to top it off I chose this one so I felt like I had to give it my all. Sadly not one person in the other four has finished and now I’m almost wishing I wouldn’t have wasted my time but I AM glad I pushed to the end. It was tough though!

    • Christina

      My god it was! I wanted to tear my hair out. But, I got through it. 😀

  1. Sunday Post: | Creating Serenity

    […] sadly, am in a funk! The last few books that I’ve read, Goldfinch and California (review coming soon), were both slow and hindered my reading process. Now it seems I […]