Theo Decker, a 13-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 longing for his mother, he clings to the 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 mesmerizing, 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.*
There are a number of books of similar length to this that don’t make you feel like you’re reading nearly 800 pages; you get to the end and you want more, more, more despite having already read so much. Unfortunately, this book does not rank among them in that sense. The writing is brilliant, I was blown away by the descriptions and the amount of detail, which all added up to make it feel like I was experiencing every little thing Theo was. I was in that museum with him, in Hobie’s shop, in the desert.
However, somewhere around the halfway mark it became too much. Unnecessary or repetitive descriptions of every last thing seen by Theo caused me to start skimming over a lot of things, which is a shame because even when I got to the last ten pages–where I think there are a few really beautiful, painfully true passages–I didn’t feel invested in Theo’s thoughts anymore. I just wanted to finally be done with the story.
That being said, it is extremely well written, the plot is unique and interesting, and the characters feel real (though is it just me, or were there a LOT of Russian characters who all sort of felt alike?). Had it not been so bogged down with description, making it painful to finish the last few hundred pages, I would have gladly given it a 5-star rating.
Overall, I give this book a 3/5 because I did really enjoy the story and the writing. It is still a story I would recommend to other avid readers who are looking for a great tale to dive into and get lost in. Donna Tartt clearly possesses an incredible talent and I look forward to reading her two other novels.
*The synopsis and cover photo were taken from Amazon and are not my own.