The Goldfinch by Donna Tartt
Reviewed by Consuelo
The feeling that I get when I read Donna Tartt is that books are personal. I read The Secret History at the urging of a good friend. I was reading The Little Friend when I got hired at BookPeople. Without even mentioning their literary merit, her stories remind me of special people and pivotal moments in my life, so I was eager to get my hands on her latest, The Goldfinch.
From its fantastic cover (that allowed me to drop it and spill things on it without much notice), its size (big), and mostly to its premise of a boy dealing with a painful loss, I was very excited. After Theo Decker’s mother is killed in an accident, his life ping pongs from Park Avenue to Las Vegas, back to New York City and across an ocean as he becomes involved in an art crime featuring a missing painting.
Along the way we are introduced to an outstanding cast of characters who truly come alive. Theo is a protagonist full of depth – layers of vulnerability, guilt, and love. Tartt has an extraordinary talent for finding the right voice for young characters, and the first half of the book is probably my favorite for this reason. Theo’s disheveled, Ukrainian, too-smart-for-his-own-good, best friend Boris is an indelible character who is missed on the pages he doesn’t grace. Theo bounces back and forth between people who become his family – the upper-crust Upper East Side Barbours; Boris; Hobie, the artistic antiques restorer who he’s fatefully linked to through the accident that took his mother’s life. They all shape him and propel him forward as he reels from (and runs away from) a decision he made when we was thirteen years old.
The Secret History is one of the most extraordinary books you’ll read, partly because even though the characters are despicable, you can’t help but stick it out and travel their dark journey with them. While Theo is a much more likeable character, I had a similar experience reading The Goldfinch. Even when he is making bad decision after bad decision, you can’t help but empathize.
The Goldfinch is sprawling and wonderful. Tartt can detail the process of antique furniture restoration, make you see in your mind a painting that you’ve never seen with your eyes, mine the depths of grief and unrequited love, and make you care about all of it. It is all inextricably bound, what one of my co-workers described as Dickensian. Despite its near 800-page length, I lugged the book on a trip to NYC with me because I couldn’t even think about leaving it behind. I wanted to stay with the characters without pause. Like Donna Tartt’s other novels, The Goldfinch will stick with me in the best possible way – when a story is close to your heart for the mere fact that it is a great story, one that spellbinds you and demands your attention.
The speaking portion of the event is free & open to the public. Tickets are required for the signing portion of the event and are only available with the purchase of a copy of The Goldfinch from BookPeople. Books & tickets are now available in-store and via bookpeople.com.