Book Review: „The Goldfinch“ by Donna Tartt

Book Information

  • Title: The Goldfinch
  • Author: Donna Tartt
  • Genre: Contemporary, Fiction
  • Type: Paperback
  • Pages: 861
  • Publisher: Abacus
  • Published in: June 5th, 2014

Put The Goldfinch by Donna Tartt on your Goodreads shelf!

"The Goldfinch" paperback book by Donna Tartt is shown. It lies on a white sheep carpet, which is lying on an oak wood floor. Next to the book lies a beige cardigan.
picture © Blattzirkus

Plot

At age thirteen, Theo Decker is involved in a life-changing catastrophe that draws him and The Goldfinch, an oil on canvas painting by Carel Fabritius, together. Through the years of Theo growing up, he finds solace in this picture, even so much, that he goes through lengths to ensure the safety of the painting, for whatever cost.

My Opinion

This is a long read. The book doesn‘t only have many pages (my paperback had 861 pages) but the story itself feels like it‘s never ending. Once there was a point where I was like „okay, but not that feels like an ending“ when there still were about 250 pages left.

Donna Tartt describes everything in so much detail, it‘s amazing and frustrating at the same time, depending at which point of the story the reader currently is. Just so you are warned, this is not a light book and you definitely need patience to make it through. In the end, it was rewarding though that I made it through in a, what I think, considerably fast pace of two weeks. I barely read during the weekdays since this book needs time to read and so I basically binge-read it during the weekends.

Also, I didn‘t force myself to read it, but rather wanted to continue reading it, since the story was interesting enough. It‘s a page turner – suddenly an hour has passed and I wanted to read more, more, more. I didn‘t really know where the story was going – hence I haven‘t even read the blurb and also I have no idea anymore why I‘ve bought this book in the first place – but I knew that I wanted to know where Theodore Decker‘s journey was going.

Speaking of the protagonist Theo Decker: he has a depressing story to tell. We first meet him when he‘s all grown-up and in Amsterdam, but the story really starts when he‘s thirteen and going with his mom to the MOMA before having a conference at school about Theo being suspended. And there‘s a lot to tell about Theo between the age of 13 and 26. Time spans and it feels like I‘ve read a total of three books instead of just one. And everything connects and comes together with the painting by Carel Fabritius, The Goldfinch (1654, oil on canvas). I try not to spoil anything here, just so people know what the red line of this novel is.

What worked for me

What impressed me early on, about 30 pages in, was the fact that I went into this book blindley and suddenly plot hits you unexpectedly. Not only that but how it was written and how it continued to be written was simply astonishing. I kept off reading this book for a year (I‘m not kidding) because I was intimidated by the length of it and me not finding or having time reading it, but 30 pages in and I knew that having started it was so worth it.

The detail of how Theo was constantly feeling and the fact that I just felt so deeply with him, seriously depressing, because his situation is constantly awful , is just a testament of Donna Tartt‘s brilliantly writing. Because it takes talent to write about a tragic life and make people feel with a seriously flawed character. And not only that but building a character to a point where he or she feels fleshed out is grand work as well. I feel sorry for every book that I‘m going to read after reading The Goldfinch.

What didn‘t work for me

On one hand I‘m seriously impressed with Donna Tartt‘s writing, on the other hand sometimes I just read too much in detail about something that didn‘t interest me at all. Let‘s just say it: at some point there was too much talk about furniture restauration, at another point Theo‘s thoughts were simply going miles per hour and it got exhausting to read about them. The details make sense, it‘s just a lot to take it.

Conclusion

I give The Goldfinch by Donna Tartt 5 out of 5 stars because I so impressed reading this so early on and I couldn‘t put this book down. This is a serious book, fiction, but very depressing. It‘s well written and you dive into the story about 30 pages in and after that, the story won‘t let you leave, even after you‘ve finished the book. The Goldfinch is definitely worth reading.

end banner of my blog post

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