- Hardcover: 327 pages
- Publisher: The Dial Press (August 26, 2008)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 0385337450
- ISBN-13: 978-0385337458
- Product Dimensions: 5.8 x 1.1 x 8.5 inches
- Shipping Weight: 14.4 ounces
- Average Customer Review: 235 customer reviews
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #629,180 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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The Good Thief Hardcover – August 26, 2008
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From The New Yorker
This striking debut novel is an homage to old-fashioned boys-own adventure stories, and unfolds like a Robert Louis Stevenson tale retold amid the hardscrabble squalor of Colonial New England. The sheer strangeness of the story is beguiling: a one-handed boy, tainted by his upbringing in a Catholic orphanage and with little to offer but a head full of lice, is adopted by a con artist, and enters an underworld of ruthless mousetrap-manufacturing barons, feisty chimney-dwelling dwarves, and, perhaps most terrifying of all, black-market dentists. In keeping with the gothic tradition, Tinti writes with an arch, almost camp sensibility. While on a nocturnal grave-digging excursion to procure bodies for a crazy scientist, for instance, the pair encounter an assassin, who tells the twelve-year-old hero that he was made for killing. Will the boy ever discover the truth of his past? Its good fun watching him find out.
From Bookmarks Magazine
Boasting a macabre setting, a fantastic adventure into the underworld of 19th-century New England, and a cast of characters Charles Dickens himself would be proud to claim, The Good Thief is an engaging tale from start to finish. With Ren essentially an “Oliver Twist at heart,” readers will find themselves sympathetic even as he finds himself entangled with an odd assortment of villains. Known previously for her collection of short stories, Hannah Tinti has created a magical debut novel that is simultaneously humorous, uplifting, and “darkly transporting” (New York Times). And with this compelling work, concludes Entertainment Weekly, she “secures her place as one of the sharpest, slyest young American novelists.”
Copyright 2008 Bookmarks Publishing LLC END ASIN: 1933372605ATTRIBUTE_NAME: 5675 REVIEW: Will American readers embrace a novel that philosophizes so heavily about daily life—or will they find it too, well, French for their tastes? Many critics spent considerable time pondering this question, but they happily concluded that The Elegance of the Hedgehog deserves wide readership in the United States. Written as a dual narrative—Renée addresses her story to the reader, while Paloma writes “profound thoughts” in a notebook—the novel reflects art, life, Japanese culture, and the passing of time. If Barbery weren’t French, critics might have considered such philosophizing pretentious, but the author’s light touch and witty humor deflected much of this concern. In the end, notes the Observer, the novel “is essentially a crash course in philosophy interwoven with a platonic love story.” And for Americans, that’s probably a good thing.
Copyright 2008 Bookmarks Publishing LLC
Top customer reviews
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I only wish I had had this book assigned to me instead of having to read Silas Marner 60 years ago.
Yes, you have to have half a brain to understand The Good Thief, and some life experience to appreciate its humor and twisty art.
The story is a bit spooky, a stretch of the imagination from time to time, and also terribly gruesome at many points. However, it is not too stomach-turning violent nor is it too sickeningly sweet. It is not a bed-time story to read to your 10-year old son, either, though I could see how an early teenage boy might be attracted to it. At its core, "The Good Thief" is a book for adults. The reader feels deeply the desperation and driving desire of an orphaned 12-year old needing and wanting his family, his mother, his father and a home. He exudes love and responds perfectly to the affection he receives. He is, at the same time, perfectly able to commit dastardly deeds.
Ren is wise beyond his years, clever and a true survivor in every sense of the word. He inspires adults, loves his unkempt and somewhat evil contemporaries, and is an irrepressible loyal friend to those who deserve it. He's also an intellectual and down-deep a very good boy.
There were a few places in the story where one's acceptance of the story line is challenged, such as the "escape" from the graveyard with the bodies in the back of the cart and the "chase" across rooftops, as Ren avoids being murdered one more time. But, all-in-all, one accepts the tale as it is presented. The characters are all sturdy enough to survive and overcome panic, danger and substantial injuries, to say nothing of their willingness to engage in crimes and murder.
Tinti's portrayal of the Church in New England in the 19th Century is an interesting side-line to the main story. Unlike Arturo Perez-Reverte ("The Seville Communion" and all his other exceptional works), Tinti seems to balance the well-documented cruelty and despicable conduct of the Church of the era on one hand with its occasional actual good works on the other - mainly through female characters members. But, in no way does Christianity or the Church play any significant role in the development of any of the characters in "The Good Thief." I found that comforting.
Finally, I liked the "sort-of" happy ending, even though the last pages read a bit like an epilogue, as if the author pulled herself way, way back from the story and quickly penned an ending that might make everyone (her editor, her family, her friends, her potential readers and herself) at least somewhat happy with how things turned out.
Fabulous. Delicious. Just... wonderful. A book that dripped worthy plot and characterization from beginning to end.
Because of his handicap, Ren has little chance of being adopted until a man shows up one day claiming that Ren is his little brother. Benjamin Nab, Ren's new "father," is a conman, accompanied by an alcoholic former teacher named Tom.
Ren may have gone from the frying pan into the fire as these two embrace horse stealing and grave robbing as their livelihood.
Set in New England, THE GOOD THIEF will remind you of Dickens. The characters are all just a little bit bent. Ultimately the boys end up in a small mining town called North Umbrage, where the landlady, Mrs. Sands, takes a shine to Ren. The principal industy of the town is, believe it or not, a mousetrap factory, and its owner is a vile lowlife named McGinty. McGinty and his "security force," the hat boys, are rather cartoonish and the novel fades toward the end as a result.
I liked the orphanage scenes and Ren's two buddies, twins Brom and Ichy, but once Ren and Benjamin leave the orphanage, the story devolves into melodrama.