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on March 12, 2017
skimming through the pages i had noticed a few pages folded in. when began unfold the pages i noticed that they were not cut to the same length as the other pages and were still in factory length.
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on October 22, 2013
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.

The great thing about this book is that you can set it aside for a few days and pick it up again and not be "lost"--the writing and characters are that strong. The "plot" on the other hand seems to grow thinner and less important as you head down the last 200 plus pages as "big issues" are thoughtfully woven in.

I'm sure this will receive many 4 and 5 star ratings, but I'm giving it a very good solid 3 since, unfortunately, it seemed to run out of gas toward the end. But those first 600 pages -- great, great stuff!
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on June 13, 2014
A book club selection, this book was one of my first kindle purchases, a good decision since the book is so long. Reviews that reveal too much of a story's plot frustrate me, so I'm glad I read the book before I read reviews.

The first pages of The Goldfinch drew me in so completely that I read for hours. Donna Tartt is a masterful writer. Her knowledge of languages, art and artists, cultures of varous countries and cities is impressive, as is her descriptive passages of her characters' drug use.

The bombing of the art museum stunned me. Although Dekker told us in the first pages that his mother had died in the horrendous explosion, I kept hoping with him that she might have survived. But therein lies the story. His journey from that moment, through all the changes, relocations, drug usage that should have killed him, all the while trying to protect that tiny piece of art, kept me up nights, reading just a bit more, then a bit more.

As satisfying as the story is, I sometimes grew weary of pages-long paragraphs. I kept thinking that I needed to breathe, to catch my breath somewhere. For me, it would have been easier to read if they had been broken down to half a page or so. Nit-picking, perhaps, for I was compelled to keep reading.

Two-thirds of the way through, I began to skip over the long drug-use descriptions and Dekker's pining for the red-haired girl. I wanted to "get on with it," to discover what was going to happen to the "Goldfinch," who would get it and how.

The revelation was both maddening and hilarious, one of those classic "duh" moments, as well as one of the most satisfying. I kept thinking, "Why didn't they just do that in the first place!" Ah, but youth is not that smart or clever. Ms. Tarrt is. The ending, itself, deserves a five star; but the passageway there gets a four star from me.

I will read more of Donna Tarrt's works. She is a skilled, memorable writer.
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on February 1, 2016
I had very high expectations for this book based on the majority of good reviews. Unfortunately it didn't live up to them at all. To be honest, if you can get through the first 200 pages it does get a little better. I forced myself to read just in the hopes that it would eventually get better and at times it briefly did. I wanted to read the whole book just to see how it would end although that felt like a chore. It was way way too long and described everything to death. It could have been a great book if only it moved along faster and didn't include so much unnecessary detail. The topic was good but it could've been told in a more interesting and captivating way. If you're looking to lose yourself in a good book, this isn't it. But if you have a lot of free time on your hands with nothing better to do......give this a try.
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on April 27, 2015
This is a beautifully written book with keen insights into humanity's search for meaning. The main character, Theo, has PTSD due to a traumatic event he endures at age 13. This trauma predisposes him to major depression and as a result he self-medicates with drugs and alcohol. I loved the Boris character, and I thought he was totally believable and fun. The author apparently did a ton of research to write this book as there is very detailed information about the furniture-making industry and antiques. The book drags in some places and it is long (775 pages) so sometimes I put it down and read other books and came back to it when I was ready. There are some beautifully written passages and I found myself highlighting a lot.
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on April 3, 2014
A very long book that at times hooks you in, however could not be happier to be done with it as opposed to the book that makes you sad when done. The characters are very flawed developed, unique, varied and complex. The characters are the draw and what keeps you reading versus the many existential philosophically oriented ramblings. Explored in this book are many heady topics including issues of PTSD, depression, drug abuse, relationships, blurred lines of love/hate , good/bad and of course life and death. This is all centered around a small but deeply valued famous painting of a gold finch. For such a long book the ending was very unsatisfying for me as I would have liked an outcome of the characters instead of meandering generalizations of life.
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on February 8, 2014
Very mixed feelings about this book. For one, did it have to be so LONG? And secondly, it seemed like several books within one, with huge chunks that could have stood alone on their own merit. It felt jarring.

Boris was, to me, the most fascinating character. And I loved Hobie. Thought Kitsy and that particular relationship were ridiculous and I was never sure why that entire bit had to be written.

And the end....so philosophical that I found myself nodding off (even though it is 1am).

Lots of people loved it, and even though it continually frustrated me (END, dammit!) I had a compulsion to finish it. Usually when everyone loves a book and I'm left wondering "why so much?", it's because I read it at the wrong time. This time, though, I think the book would have been much better if it had been trimmed by a top-notch editor. Shortening this book would be doable, but tricky.
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on July 16, 2017
Exquisite writing. Much effort has gone into it. A very interesting story line. Well researched. New Yorkers will find the location and people very familiar. At times it drags on needlessly though. Especially at critical points author just goes on for pages before letting us in on the key facts. Not a good way when events are rapid. Two main heroes, one boy and a painting. Ending seems half finished.
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on December 1, 2013
A bit long winded, a few too many descriptions of the after effects of drug and alcohol abuse, but interesting well fleshed characters. .Hobie, a wonderful old Curiosity Shop kind of gentleman, who is Theo's substitute father and benefactor. Boris,Theo's best friend and accomplice in crime, another orphan, a crazy out of control mixed up kid, a contemporary Artful Dodger. Many fascinating details about antique restoration, New York Upper East side society, the seamy side of Las Vegas, how family and art affects our lives and so much more.
Theo Decker, whose adolescence and rise to maturity is the main subject of the novel, is an interesting combination of Holden Caulfield in Catcher in the Rye and of course Pip in Great Expectations. His mother is killed in a bomb explosion at the Metropolitan Museum, and he suffers from an unrequited love for Pippa, a red haired girl who was also involved in the same incident. The book is well written and holds your attention, the final chapters set in Amsterdam just go on a bit too long. Ms. Tartt could have done with a stricter editor. Overall I really enjoyed this book and am looking forward to actually seeing The Goldfinch, the eponymous Dutch Old Master painting which is the touchstone of Theo's life and currently and apparently quite coincidentally on loan to the Frick Museum in New York.
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on May 6, 2016
Tartt describes the subject of the book, the painting of the goldfinch, as a mix of highly detailed and fussy brushstrokes with more open and freer methods. She says there's a joke at the center of great art such as The Goldfinch (the painting). Her writing is massively fussy. Each sentence is a well-constructed sentence, but she permitted herself (or her editor did), far too many uninteresting ones. There are many scenes you simply cannot believe are still going on. And there is no apparent joke in the book, unless its that you didn't skim. (I listened to the book on tape and would set the speed to 1.5x or 2x to get through some of it.)

Then there's Theo, the main character. She transforms him from someone we share concerns with, someone we find interesting and intelligent, into a simpering vessel of self-loathing. The entire scenario of the book, the possession of a stolen painting and his efforts to maintain this as a secret, feels so flimsy for even the flaccid narrator. His journey into illicit sales of fine furnishings is also rife with logical holes. His mentor makes the stuff and then condemns him for selling it? He must repurchase it all? Hands are wrung and lives are in the balance?

But I do love the Boris. I did not like, however, her manipulation of the story (reader) with Boris' theft of the painting. She signals it at the time of the theft and then, within a story in which every other detail, down to dust motes and scratches on furniture is raised to abject fussiness, weirdly makes this something Theo (and the reader) does not discover until much, much later. Handled very clumsily.

That said I read the whole thing. It does contain a world. The world tumbles along as world's do - and this Tartt did well. But the story started dying, perhaps at the theft of the painting by Boris, and continued to wilt and die progressively. The end felt like a slow death, a grinding to a halt.
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