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Showing 1-10 of 21,129 reviews(Verified Purchases). See all 25,423 reviews
on January 23, 2014
Exhausted and unsatisfied when I finished. Disappointed in life view of protagonist and his inability to escape the impact of his early trauma and DNA. Yet, this book kept you moving forward with the hope of resolution on many levels and several of the characters are enduring.
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on March 15, 2017
It is too hard to describe this novel in one or even a few words. While the overall mood is dark, even disturbingly dark at times, when it all comes round Tartt has made me think, sink, see, and above all, feel. It is a real gift to be so descriptive the reader is there...seeing, smelling, screaming. I've never read a book this long, but I am grateful I hung in there to the end. Had I not, I would not have read, "For only by stepping into the middle zone, the polychrome edge between truth and untruth, is it tolerable to be here."
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on January 21, 2015
First: I am awed by how many times I underlined a phrase that was so pithy that I could not read on for a time. I want to think that Tartt spent every minute of that 10 yrs improving this and eliminating that( Although, she didnt eliminate much!). What an accomplishment! I was enthralled with the romantic leads: Pippa, Hobie, Mom, Mrs. Barber and all their story lines peccadillos and obsessions. I can say: This is a quality read.
But more than half the book was murder and mayhem, drugs and despair, loneliness and not belonging. The long passages of self hate and the attempts right to the unbitter end to show us the meaning of our existence. I have to call Bulls*** on all that drama and melodrama. Too much Too much Too much
I am a slow reader. I never skip though passages. I did with this book. Too much Boris, too many drunken drug addled rambling scenes. Perhaps they replicate the EXACT feeling one gets under the influence. Those addicted will have to attest to that. I'm not a prude but I didnt enjoy the sheer quantity of depression I was asked sit through.
I think I agree with those that say this belongs in YA. I think I disagree with those that say Pulitzer.
All the same, there are many phrases I wont soon forget and considering passages skipped-well worth my time.
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on May 6, 2014
The Goldfinch caught my attention immediately during the first few pages and drew me in with the best writing I've read in a long time. This, however, is probably why the last 2/3 of the book couldn't live up to the first. I don't want to spoil the ending for anyone who hasn't yet read it, but I will say that it was far too philosophical and none of it essential. The story had so many twists and turns and different facets that it seems unnecessary to weigh it down with paragraph after paragraph of elementary philosophy. Once I got to that part I couldn't wait for it to end. I kept reading, regardless, hoping for something special to emerge. My favorite part about the end of the book was when I finally read the last word, relieved of what felt like my duty to finish the book. It is long, and I didn't want to give up.

I wish this had been a series. Tartt could have explored each phase of the life of this interesting character in separate volumes without having to cram in a "come to Jesus" moment at the end, wrapped in unbelievable psychobabble. It's as if even she didn't know what to say at the end so she said everything. Perhaps a little more thought could have gone into a dignified way to end the story.
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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 June 5, 2014
This could have been a GREAT book -- if only ... the author didn't try to out-do herself with her over-extended, over-detailed knowledge of the re-imaging of old furniture; if she made the main character, Theo, a bit more likeable (I wanted to smack this kid so many times throughout the book); if she did a bit more research on drug use, on the city of Las Vegas, etc., like she did on antiques. Some of the pages were total wastes of space, and there were sentences that went on and on and on .... like a letter from St. Paul (with a whole lot less meaning and message). It was hard to figure out the time periods, based on what the author had to say, and I found a whole lot less detail when you really needed more. No one in my book club "loved" the book. We didn't understand why it was such a best-seller and how it won the Pulitzer makes me weep for the future of fiction writing, if this is considered worthy of such a prize! I could say so much more but the book was long enough -- TOO long so ...
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on May 29, 2014
The Goldfinch
by Donna Tartt

I remember reading The Secret History and enjoying it, back in 2004. And even though it took 10 years for her to push out another novel, at least it was a really good one, worthy of the Pulitzer it took home in 2013.

One of my favorite qualities in a book is nice prose, and Tartt knows how to manipulate words and bend them to her will. Excellent descriptive writing, too. Of course, just as I enjoyed this, other people might want things left a little leaner. Meh. To each their own, but I really liked it.

The plot was original, if quirky, and some of the content would be a bit dicey for those that lean toward conservative subject matter. But I enjoyed it's uniqueness and I really liked the core event in the book... I thought it was fantastic.

The writing and content was intelligent, modern, urban, hip...in touch. Really cool.

An easy 5 of 5 stars from this guy (pointing at myself).

A couple of fun quotes...

"...like tracer rounds going off in the jungle, lurid flares of highly detailed and emotionally complex material."

"I think this goes more to the idea of 'relentless irony' than 'divine providence.'"
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on May 16, 2015
I would normally not read a book like this. I am much more a sci-fi, fantasy, apocalyptic, mystery type reader. Thinking that these choices might restrict me in some way, I looked around for a book that was not in those genres. I did enjoy this book although the length of this book put me off so bit at first. I just want to say that this is the most beautifully written book I have ever read. I had said that about "Life After Life" but Donna Tarrt's prose is so beautiful that in many places, it brought tears to my eyes. The challenges Theo faced over the years echoed in my mind in ways I have not expert before.

I read this book voraciously up until about 100 pages from the end when Theo made his trip to Europe. I fully understand why he had to make the trip but the book bogged down, at least for me, at this point. I loved Theo and Boris but all that self examination just did not click with me although many other readers may find it fascinating. In general, I agree that we have to pursue life with a the energy and passion we can. We only get one shot at this.

I highly recommend this book. It is worth getting through the almost 800 pages if just to experience Donna Tarrt's beautiful prose.
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on September 18, 2014
Although quite interesting and very well written at times, there were other times when I wanted to just bury my head, stop reading, or go take a nap. It is hard to do a review on a book that I loved at some points and hated at others. There were many times when I wanted to quit reading but I persevered and I only realized at the very end (and the next day) that it wasn’t actually the length of the book but the lack of feeling for the main character among numerous other things that led to my dislike of this book.

Theo is a pain in the ass. There is no other way of saying it. He looses his mother early and this tragedy begins a horrific situation in which he finds himself more often than not, alone and depressed. Many times throughout the reading I asked myself if I remember reading his age and suddenly it would pop up that only a year or two had passed. So I knew he was quite young and with so much going on I don’t expect him to make good choices exactly, but he makes SO, so, so, so, SOOOOOO many bad choices.

And if the bad choices were not the only issue, I think the main reason to dislike this book is that NOT ONE adult told Theo that he was being a pain in the ass. Everyone walks around him like he’s something to worry about and fret over but not too much because the poor kid might break! Things just get worse and he starts stealing, taking drugs, all manner of which should have been taught to him by his non existent guardians. Ugh!!! At this point I obviously wanted to throw my hands in the air and give up entirely… but I soldiered on.

When he finally gets a guardian that seems to care for him even that guardian doesn’t pay attention to his drug addiction or the fact that he is gambling with not only reputation but also money. I just didn’t get it.

Ok, enough with the guardians… let’s talk friends. I mean Boris is ok. I liked him sometimes. But Boris is even worse at times than Theo. These two are not good together. AT ALL. Boris helps Theo to get into trouble multiple times. These two… sigh! Andy is at least half way decent and seems to have a good head on his shoulders. I think I liked him the most. He’s pretty much a geek and I like my friends that way!

And then there is the painting. I loved the idea surrounding the painting and why Theo took it. That part totally makes sense to me. What bugs me a bit about the painting is that we learn (which is awesome) quite a bit but Donna Tartt tends to be quite repetitive with this subject. I found myself losing interest instead of being excited by the artwork.

While speaking of being repetitive… we also learn a lot about drugs, a LOT. Theo is constantly fighting this battle and over and over and over again Donna talks about this battle. I know that this molds who Theo is but it’s the repetitiveness that got to me. Not only that but later in the book someone else brings up his problem with drugs, I mean finally at least someone does but it’s a bit too little too late.

In reality, looking back the book made me a bit miserable. I was worried and anxious for Theo all the time. Is this a good thing that at least the book made me feel something for the main character? I’m really not sure. I do know that I absolutely do not want to read this again even though I did love Donna Tartt’s style of writing. It’s very poetic, even if long winded.

In short! If there is such a thing for this review… The book did surprise me but I came close so many times to putting it down. The ending was the only part, other than the VERY beginning, that I truly enjoyed.

3.6/5 Stars
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on December 1, 2014
Ms. Tartt’s new novel has much going for it. First of all, it has some heft to it. There’s something said for a novelist willing to dig into a story and suss out its depths. Ms. Tartt’s descriptions, particularly of antique art and furniture as well as locales around NYC, provide a texture too often missing in shorter works, not to mention the time she spends delving into the personality of her main character, Theo. In general, she has created an experience well worth having.

In longer novels, too, it is easier to be forgiving of weaknesses in plot and character. Unfortunately, Ms. Tartt is in need of quite a bit of forgiveness. Plot holes fall within the scope of suspending disbelief until near the end, when we end up in a parking garage in Amsterdam. Of course, near the end is probably the worst spot to place your most unbelievable scene, as it sticks in the memory.

The biggest problem, however, is the personality of our main character. Clearly, Theo undergoes a severe trauma at the beginning of the novel which follows him throughout his life. Still, it can be difficult to sustain interest in a character that develops very little over the course of his life. One can understand his descent into drugs and crime as a teenagers cast out on his own, but as he grows older and nothing really changes for him, it becomes more difficult to sympathize with him. After 500 pages of drug-addled poor decision-making, things get a bit boring, relying on secondary characters and surprises—a couple real poppers—to keep the interest going.

Granted, there are some great supporting players here. Boris, Theo’s friend in exile, is the unforgettable, charming id of the book. Hobie is a great, gentle, imperfect father figure. Pippa is the girl on a pedestal. Even the wealthy Barbours, who help Theo in a distracted way near the beginning of the book, becoming quite interesting, especially when Theo encounters them again later in the novel. But they cannot quite counter the weakness in Theo as our guide.

Still, there are pleasures to be had throughout the book. The first half is spectacular, really capturing the despair of a teenage boy in crisis. The second half is tougher going, but is by no means a disaster. Ms. Tartt deserves credit for producing another quality novel.
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