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The Goldfinch: A Novel (Pulitzer Prize for Fiction) (National Book Critics Circle Award: Fiction Finalists) Hardcover – October 22, 2013


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Product Details

  • Series: National Book Critics Circle Award: Fiction Finalists
  • Hardcover: 775 pages
  • Publisher: Little, Brown and Company; First Edition edition (October 22, 2013)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0316055433
  • ISBN-13: 978-0316055437
  • Product Dimensions: 9.4 x 6.4 x 1.8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 2.4 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (16,506 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #134 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

Amazon.com Review

An Amazon Best Book of the Month, October 2013: It's hard to articulate just how much--and why--The Goldfinch held such power for me as a reader.  Always a sucker for a good boy-and-his-mom story, I probably was taken in at first by the cruelly beautiful passages in which 13-year-old Theo Decker tells of the accident that killed his beloved mother and set his fate. But even when the scene shifts--first Theo goes to live with his schoolmate’s picture-perfect (except it isn’t) family on Park Avenue, then to Las Vegas with his father and his trashy wife, then back to a New York antiques shop--I remained mesmerized. Along with Boris, Theo’s Ukrainian high school sidekick, and Hobie, one of the most wonderfully eccentric characters in modern literature, Theo--strange, grieving, effete, alcoholic and often not close to honorable Theo--had taken root in my heart.  Still, The Goldfinch is more than a 700-plus page turner about a tragic loss: it’s also a globe-spanning mystery about a painting that has gone missing, an examination of friendship, and a rumination on the nature of art and appearances. Most of all, it is a sometimes operatic, often unnerving and always moving chronicle of a certain kind of life. “Things would have turned out better if she had lived,” Theo said of his mother, fourteen years after she died. An understatement if ever there was one, but one that makes the selfish reader cry out: Oh, but then we wouldn’t have had this brilliant book! --Sara Nelson

From Publishers Weekly

Donna Tartt's latest novel clocks in at an unwieldy 784 pages. The story begins with an explosion at the Metropolitan Museum that kills narrator Theo Decker's beloved mother and results in his unlikely possession of a Dutch masterwork called The Goldfinch. Shootouts, gangsters, pillowcases, storage lockers, and the black market for art all play parts in the ensuing life of the painting in Theo's care. With the same flair for suspense that made The Secret History (1992) such a masterpiece, The Goldfinch features the pulp of a typical bildungsroman—Theo's dissolution into teenage delinquency and climb back out, his passionate friendship with the very funny Boris, his obsession with Pippa (a girl he first encounters minutes before the explosion)—but the painting is the novel's secret heart. Theo's fate hinges on the painting, and both take on depth as it steers Theo's life. Some sentences are clunky (suddenly and meanwhile abound), metaphors are repetitive (Theo's mother is compared to birds three times in 10 pages), and plot points are overly coincidental (as if inspired by TV), but there's a bewitching urgency to the narration that's impossible to resist. Theo is magnetic, perhaps because of his well-meaning criminality. The Goldfinch is a pleasure to read; with more economy to the brushstrokes, it might have been great. Agent: Amanda Urban, ICM. (Oct. 22)

More About the Author

Donna Tartt was born in Greenwood, Mississippi and is a graduate of Bennington College. She is the author of the novels The Secret History and The Little Friend, which have been translated into thirty languages.

Customer Reviews

3.7 out of 5 stars
5 star
6,856
4 star
3,468
3 star
2,801
2 star
1,800
1 star
1,581
See all 16,506 customer reviews
The story and characters are very well written and well developed.
R Taylor
Wonderful characters; beautiful writing and loved all the descriptions of the art and stories behind them.
Maria S. Brady
By the end of the book, I didn't really enjoy it that much, I was just reading it to finish it.
Kelly Kenney

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

1,580 of 1,711 people found the following review helpful By Derek Jager on October 22, 2013
Format: Hardcover
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.
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1,214 of 1,351 people found the following review helpful By Neurasthenic TOP 500 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on October 7, 2013
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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
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65 of 70 people found the following review helpful By Roger Brunyate TOP 500 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on December 27, 2013
Format: Hardcover
Do writers think that length equals quality? Or is it simply their demand to be taken seriously? A lot of the books acclaimed this year have been very long ones. Some examples, just among those that I have read, have been THE LUMINARIES by Eleanor Catton (830 pages), THE WOMAN WHO LOST HER SOUL By Bob Shacochis (712 pages), NIGHT FILM by Marissa Pessl (592 pages), THE SON by Philipp Meyer (572 pages), and LIFE AFTER LIFE by Kate Atkinson (527 pages). All of these books had interesting qualities, but my enjoyment in each case (except possibly the Catton) was compromised by sheer length. Both Shacochis and Pessl piled incident on highly colored incident; the last generation in Meyer's multi-generational epic was less interesting than the other two; and the open-ended structure of Atkinson's extraordinary approach to story-telling could have been any length at all.

At 771 pages, this latest by Donna Tartt weighs in near the top of the class. But why wait ten years to write a book of this length, rather than publish two or three shorter novels in the same time? The entire story could easily have been a trilogy, and I could have enjoyed any one of the volumes separately, especially given its arresting opening. It first drew me into its orbit on page 22. Theo Decker, the 13-year-old protagonist, enters a New York exhibit of Dutch painting with his mother. Tartt's writing, which had been serviceable up to that time, bursts into bloom with a glorious paragraph that exactly captures the luminous wonder of the Dutch Golden Age. Soon after that, the main plot kicked in, and we were away. The museum is targeted by a terrorist bomb. Theo's mother is killed; he survives.
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