Book review: The Goldfinch

Posted: March 9, 2015 in Uncategorized
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Last weekend, I finally finished reading “The Goldfinch” by Donna Tartt.

“The Goldfinch” by Donna Tartt (via Goodreads)

I’ve been trying to get into it since September when I was given it, but only in the last month did I finally get going with it! I was determined to finish it and see what the fuss was all about. The blurb reads:

“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.”

Life as Theo knows it changes dramatically when his mother dies and he ends up in different places, trying to make his way through life without his beloved mother while clinging to her memory and to a painting which he cherishes. He learns more about the different worlds around him, from the wealthy family of his friend Andy, to the empty desert and glittering casinos of his father’s home in Las Vegas, to the dusty antiques shop in New York where he later works.

His relationships with different people are interesting to witness as they develop through the novel. He clearly idolises his mother and is slightly obsessive about her life and death, going over things he should have done differently the day she died. He doesn’t really like his father very much, with his alcoholism and how he deserted Theo and his mother, and resents having to go and live with him in Las Vegas, far from the memories and familiar sights of New York.

One of the most prominent relationships is his friendship with Boris who he meets while living with his father. They explore life together, from simple teenage antics like going to school together, to exploring drugs, drinking alcohol and shoplifting, to learning more about themselves as part of the world. This friendship only fades when Theo goes back to New York, but is re-instated when Boris appears again in New York and things start to get messy in Theo’s home and work life.

Most of the novel is about Theo going through those difficult teenage years, grieving for his mother and hating his father, but we realise just how traumatised he is by the accident that changed his life through his serious drug use. He is obviously suffering from PTSD and he stays in contact with another survivor who he falls in love with from a distance, a girl who understands the trauma Theo went through.

The latter parts of the novel jump into the future when Theo is grown-up and in a relationship with the sister of Andy, but is leading a secret criminal life which causes more problems for himself. The ending gets really weird and confusing but eventually things start to make sense.

I don’t want to go into any more detail without ruining the book for those who haven’t read it so that’s all I’m saying! If you struggle with it, just push on with it because it does get better and it’s totally worth it to see what all the fuss is about!

I’m giving it 7/10 because it keeps you guessing until the end, and is just so fascinating (once you get into it) that you have to finish it! It turned out better than I thought it would be because at first it was a bit boring. Give it a try!

  1. mikeytbull says:

    Yeah, I’m going to have to get it! – funnily enough my favourite British bird is the Goldfinch!

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