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on November 5, 2017
This book held me spellbound from beginning to end. I didn't want to finish it but I couldn't wait to finish it to know the ending! The light for me in this dark story was Boris...his character was broken and a little scary yet he was such a strong character and had a loyalty and love for Theo the best he could given his circumstances. Even though Theo was truly the main character, Boris and Hobie were my favorites and the most dimensional for me. This is the only Donna Tartt book I have read but it was exceptional, the feelings it could evoke through the things that happened, how Theo waited for his Mom to come back to the apartment, the happiness when Boris was on the floor with Popper and he was so happy Popper remembered who he was...I felt like I was there with the characters and that's quite an accomplishment. Loved this book.
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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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2,283 helpful votes
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on November 11, 2017
Now I understand why they call this novel "Dickensian" - it is very much like a modern day Dickens tale. Very wordy and too long, a lot of overly descriptive passages that are often unnecessary, yet it is a masterpiece. It's a completely engrossing tale with incredible characters that are intelligent, vulnerable, flawed and foolish, outright aggravating at times, but feel so deeply that you can't help but be pulled along. I don't think I could read this more than once, but it was very satisfying along the way.
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on June 22, 2017
The idea of working a novel around an actual master work of paining is not a new idea, but a very good one. It interested me enough to look up the painting on the Internet, and copy off said copy on watercolor paper and it is now displayed on our piano.
Well written, but a bit long. Concerning the story, I kept hoping the major personage would get his act together long before he did.
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on July 10, 2017
The metaphors in this book are in a class by themselves. I am not surprised at all that it won the Pulitzer Prize . Fantastic story, characters, scenery, and the language is smart without being pretentious. An extremely enjoyable and surprisingly fast read especially considering how long it is. I have been reading excerpts aloud to my son (17) and he is loving it. I think he wants to start it when I get finished. Highly recommend!
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on October 12, 2017
The Goldfinch is very well written. It is a narrative of one possible path which can be trodden by a survivor of severe trauma. It is deeply disturbing but that is not the reason I give it only 3 stars. Many great novels are deeply disturbing. However, I found the character development to be fundamentally shallow and on the surface. This novel will please those who read for plot, but it leaves me disappointed. It provides plenty of voyuristic thrills, but little lasting intellectual sustenance.
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on August 22, 2014
The Goldfinch is the story of a boy, a painting, and how their lives are intertwined. It follows the life of Theo, whose life seems destined to be a series of unfortunate events. It's a story of love, kindness, and trying to find happiness, a rumination on goodness, badness, and whether one can stem from the other.

While I loved the book, and recommend it overall -- Tartt's writing, as always, is masterful -- I do present several caveats. The first: this is, quite possibly, the only protagonist in literature (except perhaps Holden Caufield) on whom I wished death at regular intervals. He makes mistake after mistake, and seems to get by only from the kindness of others or -- more often -- luck and the skin of his teeth. If you are averse to this type of experience, then this is probably not the book for you. The second caveat: the last hundred or so pages are an unnecessary philosophical rumination, an "If you missed these themes and the questions they raise, let me bash you over the head with them" experience that weakened the entire book for me.

On the other hand: Theo's love of his mother, and that angle of his story, was heartwarming and heartbreaking; I felt immensely homesick when I read almost all of them. The story of his relationship, too, with the painting is wonderful, and very much highlights the importance of art to life. It also induced a fleeting desire to leave grad school and become an antiques dealer.

While I found The Secret History by the same author to be a much better book, I did enjoy this one, and recommend it on the whole -- it's got an excellent plot that makes you keep reading; a twist that made me sit up in bed and shout at the book (scaring my boyfriend), and writing that will knock your socks off.

Started: July 5, 2014
Finished: August 21, 2014

Rating: 8/10
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on September 22, 2014
This book was very overrated! I had such high expectations for it based on it winning the Booker prize and the glowing reviews of some of the other reviewers.

From a positive perspective, it was an interesting story and overall, engaging written. The characterisation of some characters, like Boris and even the dog, Popchik was well done and the dialogue brought some characters alive on the page.

From a negative perspective, the writing is often unnecessarily longwinded and good have done with some solid editing. It seems like the author was trying to be profound or philosophical but often it just ended up being boring or pretentious.

The main character was hard to like and I found that I did not empathise with him or care what happened to him at all.

I have read this book being compared to Great Expectations and I can definitely see the similarities.
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on September 1, 2016
Pulitzer Prize or not, this novel would profit from a brisk editing, if only to impose some structure on what is currently an utterly shapeless narrative. That said, even the meandering here is fun to read. Ms. Tartt's twin gifts for characterization and dialogue kept me riveted when the temptation to walk away from this tsunami of words was strong. The narrator, his father, his friend Boris, the family he lives with and even the dog-- all are unforgettable characters whose originality and unpredictability make them come alive on the page. All wonderful stuff. If only there weren't so MUCH of it.

My only disappointment came about at the end when the author succumbed to the temptation to tell us What It All Means. Flat footed and ham handed, an explanation of the previous 700 or so pages spoiled the book for me in the most amateurish way possible. Given that the central metaphor of the book explains the human condition just fine -- a bird created to fly is tethered to earth by a frustrating chain-- we really don't need any protracted explanations of the book. Authors should trust their readers to Get It.

Read this, though, for her mesmerizing voice and for characters you'll never forget. Those two things are worth the time you'll invest here.
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on September 11, 2016
I'm not really worthy of writing a review about a Pulitzer Prize winner, but I can't help but share a few observations. What an incredible insight into the world of neglected children! If you grew up in a somewhat normal home, you have no idea how many kids are responsible for their own emotional and physical survival. I also love a book that brings knowledge and insight into areas you might never explore otherwise. (I'm going to read The Idiot next.) I've never seen anyone put such beautiful words and sentences together. I lost hours and hours of sleep because I couldn't put it down.
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