265 of 301 people found the following review helpful
Over-written, under-plotted, sophomoric themes,
This review is from: The Goldfinch: A Novel (Pulitzer Prize for Fiction) (National Book Critics Circle Award: Fiction Finalists) (Hardcover)
Were you one of the few who actually read all of Great Expectations in that ninth grade English class? Then you know what Dickens is all about—and you’ll know right away that Donna Tartt is no Dickens, despite the chorus of frog-like critics croaking praises in the swamp of modern American fiction. I loved Tartt’s Secret History. But this novel is self-indulgent in the extreme, substituting endless, tedious, repetitious descriptions for character development, plot, and meaning. Do we really care about descriptions of drug induced ecstasy—over and over? Or about a total loser like Boris dragging our hero off the rails of sanity, honesty, and decency to no novelistic or moral end? The trope of the Goldfinch and the meaning of life, beaten into us in the last few pages, is really, really jejune—all about Fate and how to deal with it in life. Wow! Deep! This book desperately needed an editor who could stand up to a novelist out of control, to insist on control. And to close the circle, please, please—no more comparisons to Dickens. Ms. Tartt, you are no Charles Dickens.
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Showing 1-10 of 16 posts in this discussion
Initial post: May 8, 2014 8:39:50 PM PDT
John W. says:
You were way too kind!
Posted on May 18, 2014 3:32:53 PM PDT
Robert Blake says:
I agree completely. Hemingway is far from my favorite stylist, but Tartt could learn a thing or 2 from him about the parsimonious deployment of words. Why use one word or simile or metaphor when 5 or 6 can completely muddle the meaning!
Posted on May 26, 2014 11:09:57 AM PDT
JoAnne Walsh says:
I agree that this story started out strong but really fizzled to the point that it became tedious and repetitious. Hardly a read I would recommend to others. I am encouraged that you loved Tartt's Secret History because I have it here ready to read but am hesitant to pick it up after trudging through The Goldfinch.
Posted on May 28, 2014 10:41:45 AM PDT
Nancy Cook says:
I agree 100 percent with your comments. I trudged along through this book to the end, but I cannot recommend it.
Posted on May 29, 2014 8:49:40 AM PDT
Ruth T. Shapiro says:
I just finished making my way through The Goldfinch, based on a recommendation from a friend who told me to keep going and it would improve. Well, I kept going and it never did improve. So much filler, it made my head hurt. It might have made a reasonable couple of hundred page novel - maybe - but the endless goings on of his friend, Boris, had me bored out of my mind. "Oh, God, not Boris AGAIN!" Next time I want to read a long (and fascinating) book, I will pick up War and Peace again.
Posted on Jun 20, 2014 7:59:51 PM PDT
Queenie 12 says:
I totally agree. After more that 175 pages, I closed the book and won't return...ever.
Posted on Jul 22, 2014 7:59:43 PM PDT
Fate Smate. It's a good story. It beats all hell out of Anna Karinena, which is longer, drags slower and in general represents a three way cross between the St Petersburg telephone directory, a Frenshman all night gab session on the meaning of life and the Moscow social register. And it's got a really nice picture as a plot lynchpin.
Posted on Aug 13, 2014 8:21:09 AM PDT
Mary R. Schomer says:
I read this whole book and I liked the story. However, I agree that a strong editor was needed. The part describing the explosion, for example, went on and on and on and on. I felt sorry for the main character, but he was so unlikable and weak that I kind of lost interest in him after a while. Pulitzer Prize winner? WOW! What were the other choices?
Posted on Aug 20, 2014 1:07:02 PM PDT
"this novel is self-indulgent in the extreme, substituting endless, tedious, repetitious descriptions for character development, plot, and meaning." YES, YES, YES AND YES! Was trudging through endless, overly descriptive pages SURE (early on) that it would somehow be relevant to the plot later or tie back into the story. Not only did these repetitive tirades not tie back, they didn't advance the story at all and half of the characters (like Xandra) were irrelevant to the entire plot.
Posted on Aug 21, 2014 5:37:46 PM PDT
Yes, I did read (and LOVE) Great Expectations, and practically everything else Dickens wrote, and I hadn't heard a thing about this book when I started it. Like a Dickens novel, it immediately pulled me in, and I didn't want to put it down. I wouldn't compare the author to Dickens, but one of the many satisfactions of the book was recognizing that it was an homage to him. I was flabbergasted a few years ago to learn that not everyone who is a reader loves Charles Dickens! I would venture to say that if you don't like Dickens, you won't like The Goldfinch, for many of the same reasons (too long, too many words, too many characters, too much of a world of its own, too jejune!). Dickens fans, those who remember that he never shied away from the underworld or the dark side of humanity, that he wrote complex characters as well as some that were all good, that he took the reader into some of his characters' lives purely for the entertainment, just might find it a rollicking good read.