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Showing 1-10 of 20,974 reviews(Verified Purchases). See all 25,216 reviews
on February 20, 2014
This site certainly doesn't need another review to add to the over 7,000 already here. I won't add much to the discourse, but I'm doing this for my own satisfaction and to write down my thoughts about this book that can be both awesome and awful.

Donna Tartt is at times a brilliant writer and a masterful wordsmith. But she reminds me of a Grammy-winning jazz trombonist that I saw at a club once. He was an amazing technician and could coax more notes and different sounds out of the trombone than anyone I had ever heard. And while I could certainly appreciate his technical abilities and marvel at the otherwordly sounds he could create with the instrument, in the end the performance was not satisfying. I was looking for some semblance of a melody and artistry at least somewhat pleasant to the ear, but what I got was a cacophanous display of technical ability.

Yes, you can have too much of a good thing. And Donna Tartt proves it with The Goldfinch. No matter how skillfully she writes about Theo's drug-fueled escapades in Las Vegas, we are so tired of hearing about them after a while. And regardless of how well she conveys all of the things going through his mind while holed up in a hotel in Amsterdam, we just don't care at some point.

I understand the tendency of a good writer to do more of what she does well. What I don't understand is the writer's conceit in not recognizing and overcoming that tendency. While I see this as a serious fault in a writer, I find it unforgivable in an editor. Both of them are guilty of taking a 500 page great book and turning it into an 800 page good book.
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on February 28, 2016
This is a five star book all the way. It is long, and often challenging, with foreign languages quoted, and a depressed main character, who is not always easy to care about. Unlike some reviewers, I liked the inclusion of the foreign phrases. We North Americans have too long been ignorant of, and often intolerant of the richness other languages have contributed to American English. It is arrogant to be so insular in a world filled with fascinating and varied cultures and languages. Besides, it isn't as if Tartt threw the foreign words in as an affectation. They are relevant to the characters who speak them. As to the length of the book, I will happily read this book again someday, if only to re-experience Tartt's fine prose, and gift for description of place and characters, not to mention the main character of the book (in my opinion), the painting of the Goldfinch. Her development of Theo's psychology is insightful. He is severely damaged as a child, so that it takes years, and extreme experiences to jolt him into a semblance of true self awareness. His experiences are unusual--unbelievable some reviewers claim. Well, isn't that one of the main qualities that keeps one reading any book of fiction. Even Chekhov, who often wrote about characters suffering from a sort of common ennui, painted them in a heightened manner--emotionally dramatic in the extreme. I am as happy about reading this book, as I was years ago, reading Les Miserables, David Copperfield, Bleak House, and Great Expectations, not to forget the many imposing works of Tolstoy, and Dostoevsky, all books which filled my youthful heart with excitement about how words strung together just so, can convey so much beauty and pathos, enriching ones life. I realize many disagree with me, but, bottom line, I simply loved the premise, and the prose of The Goldfinch, and am thrilled to have read it. That said, if you like your novels simple, and straight forward, don't bother with this book. It is dense, and takes, at times, much effort to dig into. I kept digging, and found gold.
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on May 16, 2017
Wow! It's hard to start on this one. I finished the novel a few days ago, and my mind is still tossing around ideas on the content and writing. At the forefront of my reflection, I'm amazed by how Tartt is able to draw me into such an improbable story with her vividness of characters and imagery. The dialogue between characters and inside the main character's own mind are more lucid than any other literature I've read. The author reaches this level of realness with modern language and social trends that touch on the current generation of readers. At the same time, there's a very accessible bridge to history and what those connections to the past can mean to us now. It's difficult for me to describe those strange connections in words, just as one small painting of a bird can lead to such dramatic changes in so many lives.
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on January 28, 2014
What could have been an interesting story was turned into this mammoth book where the writer is voluble to the extreme. I did stick with it until the last page where all of a sudden the end came like a train hitting a brick wall. In fact the ending was so abrupt it had me looking to see if I truly were missing pages. About the only story line that came to a conclusion was that the painting was back where it belonged.

I found that I couldn't engage with the main character until a third of the way into the book and even then I couldn't care about him. About the only character that garnered any sympathy was Hobie, the partner of the man who also died in the bombing and , who took Theo in when he had no place to go. Hobie is the only stalwart character in Theo's life it seems and it's Hobie you care for when Theo betrays Hobie's trust in him.

The main character is a young boy called Theo. Theo is traumatized when his mother is killed in a bombing at a museum. Finding his way out of the rubble, Theo steals the painting of the Goldfinch that his mother had loved and aids a dying man who gives him a ring to give to his partner. From there Theo's life plays out in a series of misfortunes, drugs and drugs and more drugs, art theft, antique forgery and bad choices in general. If there is any redemption in Theo's story it is unbelievable as the prior 800 pages have told the reader that Theo reverts to drugs and lies whenever life gets to tough for him.
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on March 26, 2017
I really don’t know where to begin with this novel. It’s long - nearly 800 pages - and densely written. It’s been said many times about this novel that it’s ‘Dickensian’: well, superficially, I suppose. There’s an ‘Old Curiosity Shop’ of sorts, run by a kindly old man, Hobie, and any number of other modern counterparts to characters found in Great Expectations or Oliver Twist. But where Dickens’ characters like Oliver Twist, Nell, and others are true victims of circumstances beyond their control, worthy of our pity, Theo and Boris in THE GOLDFINCH bring most of their misery onto themselves. They stumble through much of the book in an alcohol or drug-induced haze. They lie, steal, hang with the wrong people. As interesting and colorful as they may be, pity is not something I’d feel for them. They are not particularly likable characters.

That’s not to say their story doesn’t make for a fascinating and entertaining read.

The GOLDFINCH is the story of Theodore (Theo) Decker, 13 years old when the novel opens, and his strange and harrowing journey to adulthood, a Bildungsroman in literary terms.

After he loses his mother in a terrorist bombing at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, purloining the eponymous painting in the process (his mother’s favorite), he’s taken in by Hobie, antique furniture collector and restorer. We follow him through his own words as he struggles with the loss of his mother, and his many adventures as he grows up, always the presence of that painting, the Goldfinch, there to both chain him irrevocably to his mother and her death at the Met, and also to haunt him as he fears the consequences of his theft should it ever be discovered.

With all its faults -- implausible plot twists, overlong and tedious descriptions at times, unlikable protagonist, pretentious philosophizing tacked on the end to ensure ‘literary’ status -- with all the faults Tartt’s prose is wonderful. An enjoyable read. And while it may not rate as one of my all time favorite novels, it's okay. I’m glad I spent the time with it.
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on May 18, 2015
The problem with reading a Pulitzer Prize winner is it often comes with disappointment.
This was not a problem here. I can see why people give it from one to five stars.
There were times for me in which this was a definite five (still…), yet there were times I thought it devolving into an emotional massacre. OK, maybe not devolving as it is emotionally intense, and it is supposed to be. However, there was a point where I got the sick feeling that Tartt was going to kill the damn dog too! Don’t worry the dog and Bambi are quite safe (about the only ones).

While it dragged at times the detail was not gratuitous. The characters are flawed to say the least, but human and sometimes even loveable. I thank Amazon that the Kindle has a dictionary, translator and Wikipedia. I used all of these often to make sure I understood what I was reading. There were several languages used and I suppose I could have done quite well without knowing what was said. I’m glad I did though. The amount of research and time put into this was amazing. The writing is superb, which doesn’t always mean I like a book (I gave e.e. cummings “The Enormous Room” two stars and the prose were incredible).

This is not an easy read. It is hard on your brain and sometimes on your heart. It is a monstrosity of information and emotions and some things you will have to just puzzle out. If this intrigues you than plunge right it (and don’t forget to come up for air, you’ll need it).
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on March 29, 2017
Around 20 years ago I came across Donna Tartt's first novel, The Secret History, in a hostel in Tokyo, on a bookshelf where guests leave behind books for others to read. I fell in love with that book, have read it twice more since then (very unusual for someone like me who rarely rereads books), and recommend it first to anyone who asks me for a good book to read. While I really enjoyed Tartt's second novel, The Little Friend, for me it's The Goldfinch that comes close to evoking the level of passion I felt for her first work. Like the objects that Tartt writes about in the novel, this book is one that I will treasure. The book has characters that I feel have become friends, and relates a journey through life that puts my own in perspective. But I also appreciate how the novel reminds us how our individual encounters with art (and literature) can connect us with a sublime beauty underneath and beyond surface features, historical significance, or communal interpretation. It reminds us how a personal connection with things invests meaning in life. I think often about whether I'm making the best use of the time I have remaining. Tartt's book reassured me of the importance of art and literature in my life, and I'm glad I found a new treasure in The Goldfinch. I'm looking forward next to returning to The Secret History one more time.
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on January 9, 2017
I was very disappointed with this novel, especially because so many friends had recommended it. I found the first third of the story very engaging, and I sympathized with this 13-year-old boy who was left alone to find answers to difficult questions about his place in the world. But then the story became cluttered with many characters, some of whom were unbelievable and unnecessary. Additionally, the story was bogged down in repetition. I found myself thinking, "OK. I get it. Now can we get on with it." Las Vegas ad nauseoum; drug stupors ad nauseum; Boris and his cronies ad nauseum. After a year of picking the book up and then putting it aside for a while (at least 6 times), I finally managed to finish it. Even in ending the novel, the author couldn't leave well enough alone but felt compelled to tie up all the loose ends in a very cliche manner. On a positive note, the author is a master of detail and description, and uses language artfully. I enjoyed her writing style, but wish she had cut 200 pages from the book.
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on March 24, 2017
I love the art and beauty of the way this author paints the written page. She is amazing! The story is like train wreck,scary and bloody and awesome but you cannot look away. I read this huge book in 48 hours.
I am sure I will think of it for a long to time. Right now it is a train wreck that I am reeling fro but after some time I am sure in my mind it will be a work of art. It would make a great movie if Hollywood would do it justice and not butcher it. I am going tone thinking about this one a lot and trying to understand the message in this story. This one will absolutely stay with me for awhile. This girl can really write.
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on June 7, 2014
This Pulitzer Prize winner did not disappoint. It is one of my all time favorites. I was immediately taken with the author's ability to "paint" volumes. Quite literally, I've never quite experienced the sensation of volume in the spaces depicted in this book in any other book I've read, whether it be city street, imposing museum or desert. I will be re-reading it to study just how Tartt did that. It's also a love story - that of a son for his mother - more touchingly told in word and story than I can ever recall. True, the son often sees and describes things as a woman would see and describe them, but give the author poetic license on that for the richness it brings to the novel. The main character will frustrate you with his poor judgment and choices in life. I believe Tartt exaggerates this to illustrate the ill effects on a child who is growing up without a close parent, until he connects with the nearly perfect surrogate (and one of the most likable characters in the book). Still, he falls prey to nearly every temptation available to contemporary youth. And even in this relationship, he is nearly beyond redemption due to various twists of fate, and tosses roughly about in his unique, stormy world like a ship in a hurricane. Or, like someone who experiences a bomb in a museum filled with precious but unsavable treasure.
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