The Goldfinch: A Novel (Pulitzer Prize for Fiction)

The Goldfinch: A Novel (Pulitzer Prize for Fiction)

WINNER OF THE PULITZER PRIZE

The Goldfinch is a rarity that comes along perhaps half a dozen times per decade, a smartly written literary novel that connects with the heart as well as the mind….Donna Tartt has delivered an extraordinary work of fiction.”–Stephen King, The New York Times Book Review

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.

Details

  • Hardcover: 775 pages
  • Publisher: Little, Brown and Company; 1st edition (October 22, 2013)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0316055433
  • ISBN-13: 978-0316055437
  • Product Dimensions: 6.2 x 1.8 x 9.8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 2.4 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.8 out of 5 stars See all reviews (24,620 customer reviews)
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3 comments

  1. I won’t go into the plot since everyone will know it. My concern whenever I’m given or purchase a very long book is, “Will it keep me engaged?” and is it worth the weeks it will take me to finish it?”

    The answer with THE GOLDFINCH is “Yes!” and “Sorta!”

    To me, the book is divided into sections or novellas–the explosion, living with the wealthy family, moving to Vegas, etc.

    The brilliant opening section immediately kept me engaged–I think the explosion and Theo’s experience and recovery is some of the best writing I’ve read in years.

    The family he moves in with may remind you of THE ROYAL TENENBAUMS or Salinger’s Glass family. They are funny, a bit tragic and sort of odd. The father especially–something about his behavior seemed a bit “off” as did his wild dialogue; it didn’t seem at all “real” in a novel that’s very grounded in reality. (It’s revealed later why he behaves this way.)

    The next–and for me, strongest novella–takes place in Las Vegas where we “live” with Theo’s father and girlfriend. The writing is vivid, the characters and plot really move along and it’s all terrific.

    And then, for me, THE GOLDFINCH seems to stall a bit and slightly loses its way. This painting that Theo carries with him seems to be forgotten about and then every 100 pages or so is mentioned again (not that we care.)

    There’s a novella about dealing in art (collection and deception) and our hero takes a downward turn, but I found myself losing interest and by page 600 was growing impatient for it to end…or for the plot to kick in again as it did in the first few sections.Read more ›

  2. It’s been a long time since I found a book so alternately beautiful and maddening. There are excellent scenes and lines in this novel, and I’m glad I read it, but it doesn’t hold together well. In the end it reminded me of the antique shop the character Hobie runs in the book: many amazing, high-quality things half-hidden beneath mounds of less interesting stuff.

    Tartt deserves credit for daring greatly in this book. It’s hard to center a long novel on a fairly unlikeable character, and even harder when that character is also the narrator. In Theo Decker I felt she was trying to get at the ways a severe psychic injury plays out over a lifetime, and for the first half of the book I was fascinated by Theo even when I didn’t like him. And Tartt does lay the groundwork carefully for his later misdeeds, particularly in Theo’s unwanted resemblance to his father. But once Theo becomes an adult (in years if not in maturity), he makes so many stupid decisions, and is so apathetic about his life generally, that it got increasingly difficult for me to care what happened to him. It’s also hard to reconcile how Theo can act as he does while having the insights he articulates. I understand that this is part of what Tartt is trying to explore (why people don’t do what they know, at some level, they should do), but I don’t think it quite comes off here. Theo’s character felt too inconsistent to sustain the whole novel.

    The high points of the novel for me were Theo’s life immediately after the explosion that kills his mother, when he is taken in by the wealthy family of a school friend, and his relationship with Hobie, the furniture dealer who takes him on as a kind of apprentice.Read more ›

  3. I passed the Metropolitan Museum of Art the other day and was struck with a powerful and initially inexplicable melancholy. I had been affected by the experience of reading The Goldfinch, in the opening chapters of which a great tragedy happens there. The book is compelling and moving. Tartt is a master of foreshadowing, letting us know just enough of what is to come that we feel helpless to put down the book. I found myself staying up late for several nights, turning page after page to connect the dots. This book is every bit the equal of The Secret History in this regard. And it exceeds that earlier book in its great emotional depth. The opening section, in New York City, is terribly sad and in the hands of a lesser author this material would be difficult to get past. However, Tartt has signaled us well enough about the future of our protagonist, Theodore Dekker, that we stick with him. And from the second section of the book, while we have no shortage of continuing misery, it is tempered by hope or humor.

    This is not to say that the book is necessarily realistic; it is structurally a Bildungsroman, and it constantly evokes earlier books rather than real life. In the opening section, when Theo is still living in New York City, I particularly detected The Catcher in the Rye. When he moves in with the family of a wealthy school friend, his hope of being adopted by them evokes elements of …Read more ›

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