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Showing 1-10 of 21,050 reviews(Verified Purchases). See all 25,316 reviews
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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VINE VOICEon June 15, 2017
What a treat to have a long novel to engage me while stuck on the beach in Spain during an unusual heat wave! It's taken me 3 years to find the time to read this book, as I mostly read non-fiction books for Becca's Inspirational Book Blog. But once picked up, I couldn't put it down.

While The Goldfinch does bog down a bit in the second half, I was entranced by the characters and plot from the very beginning and just skimmed my way over a few clunky sections. Thirteen-year-old Theo is at the Metropolitan Museum of Art with his single mother (a true art lover/historian), because they need to kill time before a meeting at his school about his possible suspension. There's a terrorist bombing, and Theo survives while his mother does not. In his last few minutes alive, Welty, grandfather to a beautiful young redhead that Theo had been following around the museum, gives him an antique ring with an address to bring it to, and tells him to take the painting, The Goldfinch, that they had all been looking at prior to the terrorist attack.

Theo survives, but with guilt for being alive, and PTSD that he suppresses with numerous legal and illegal drugs to the point of near obliteration. Despite his often despicable acts, it's hard not to root for Theo, even when it seems futile. We hope he will find balance in a world gone haywire for him, that he will find love with the redhead who has also survived. We hope and hope, with little reason to.

In the end, I found this book as inspirational as the "spiritual" books I regularly read. It seeks to answer the large question about why some people are destined to suffer. And it offers mysterious, ambiguous and inexplicable answers.

Theo has a dream visitation from his mother at his darkest moment, after murder and mayhem in Amsterdam, and that is the turning point in his life and his search for a reason to live. He surmises, " cruelly as the game is stacked, that it's possible to play it with a kind of joy?" This fits into my view of the meaning of life -- to enjoy living, life, beauty, love, whatever obstacles are in our way. The Goldfinch painting symbolizes all of these things for Theo, even though like the bird, he is tethered to a chain of sorrow from which he will never be able to free himself.

Becca Chopra, author of Chakra Secrets
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on May 10, 2015
The things I learned from this book:

Donna Tartt knows a s*** ton about
- obscure yet important
- works of art
- vintage and priceless furniture
- restoration of said vintage and priceless furniture
- veneers, all grains and how to fake them
- wood fillers
- aging wood to deceive
- the myriad policies on liberated minors in Nevada and New York
- explosions
- excessive (like insane-excessive, like these-kids-should-be-dead-by-now excessive) alcohol and drug consumption
- prescription drug abuse and abusers
- opiates
- withdrawal symptoms from opiates
- depression from symptoms of withdrawal from opiates
- theft
- duplicity
- expat Russians of dubious intent
- vodka
- art storage facilities
- how to write about people talking about sailing
- NYC's upper east side and the vacuous culture therein, while also being "nice" about it
- airports
- buses
- cool music teens listen to
- vomit
- waking in vomit or with vomit caked on a person
- text messaging as a teenager
- the burning sensation of sunlight on the eyes of an addict or hungover teenager
- smoke, all vagaries: lingering, silvery, billowing, sylvan, streaming, breathy, wispy and wafting
- pool care
- big fancy words, such as "sang-froid"
- how to waste 250 pages without adding one iota to a story's value or progress
- making you wish you'd read something else.
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on July 10, 2016
I plodded through this book, ever hoping the pace would pick up, the characters would grow up, the plot would devel-up, all to no avail. From the moment Theo, the main character shows up at wealthy Andy's 5th Avenue apartment (would the family really take him in instead of relinquishing him to grandparents or social services, esp. given that Theo has undisguised contempt for both his "friend" and the family) to the drink-a-thon that is his life in Las Vegas with good ol' dad and the girlfriend (he's 15, has no money, yet he's perpetually in possession of as much vodka as he can consume and as much weed as he can tote), there was a credibility gap. Throw in the glacial pace and the verbosity and you've got an antidote to insomnia. The shame of it all is that Donna Tartt can craft a sentence and evoke an image worthy of a Pulitzer Prize winner (did this book really win one?!?), so it's too bad that she didn't have a good editor to clean up the plot holes (e.g., there wasn't text messaging in the era she writes about). I rarely stop reading a book after investing time to read the first 400 pages, but I'm doing so with this one.
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on June 25, 2015
This could have been a splendid novel at, say, 250 pages. It has a good plot and a number of clever twists. But it truly gives wordy a bad name. The author reports irrelevant conversations in laborious detail, provides unnecessarily precise (and wordy) descriptions, and generally goes on and on. And on. Without advancing the plot. I think she thinks it is suspensful, but it sometimes seems as though she is using the novel to show her erudition, particularly about art, antiques, furniture restoration, and drugs, both licit and illicit.

I thought that the novel went badly off the rails in Las Vegas, about a third of the way through, and I almost gave up at that point. I continued, to some extent against my better judgment, and I thought that the dénouement was entirely unsatisfactory – at the risk of giving something away, it reminded me of The Threepenny Opera, where the Queen pardons Mack the Knife and instead of hanging him gives him an estate. But that was satire. I could also have lived without the pseudo-philosophizing near the end of the book: Do we really need to be told that good can come of evil or that life is essentially pointless?

I have never read a Reader's Digest condensed novel, but this disastrously bloated, self-indulgent novel made me long for one. Where were her editors?

I award the novel 3 stars in the same way I might give a student a C for trying hard: good ideas, poor execution.
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on August 17, 2014
I have no idea why this book won a Pulitzer, but I will be sure to steer clear of any future winner, if this is an indication of the quality they are looking for. This book was terrible and worse than that -- 800 pages of terrible! The only reason I finished is because I am reading it for book club, otherwise I would have stopped long before the halfway point. The author was in desperate need of a good editor, I don't know who is more to blame for this 800 page disappointment, this book could have easily been 400 pages max and I am being generous. I am not sure why we had to read page after page of his drug addiction, his altered mind, etc. Perhaps Ms. Tartt was on drugs when she was writing the book and wasn't able to comprehend that writing about something over and over and over and over is BORING!!! Do not waste your time!
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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 February 23, 2014
I wanted to love this book so badly.

**beware of spoilers ahead**

I loved The Goldfinch up until Theo went to Vegas. From that point on I steadily began losing sympathy. The premise is fascinating, the description of the destruction, his emotional devastation, the aftermath of a horrible tragedy - all this was riveting. However, the further Theo sunk into a drug/alcohol induced haze, the more I began wishing that someone would just find the friggin' painting and put us all out of our misery. It's not that I don't understand why he took a downturn, he had ample reason to escape into addiction - it's more that Tartt makes him so unlikable. He spends the Vegas years waking up in a puddle of vomit. At times I could smell him through the pages, while that means that the writing is amazing, it also turns my stomach.

Theo becomes even more unsympathetic as he returns to New York, floating through school, wallowing in a bag of pills, wasting opportunity after opportunity. Again, not that I don't understand the whys of the situation, but at this point, I just didn't care. The thing that makes literary protagonists interesting (in my humble opinion anyhow) is that they have a special something, a spark, a quirk, a something that sets them apart from reality. Theo has none of this, he is exceedingly average, unlikable and unsympathetic. The imagined smell of vomit was replaced with cigarettes, and he remained a broken, self-destructive slug.

It's during the early chapters of Theo's return to New York that I wanted to transport myself into the book, call the cops, tell them about the painting and end the whole thing. However, I kept on reading, I believed that there was going to be some kind of amazing twist that was going to make the whole journey worth it.

Boris. Where do I start with Boris? Boris' overly complicated lineage, his entirely absurd network of connections and impeccably impossible timing make him into a caricature rather than an actual living, breathing character. The fact that he stole the painting made no sense to me, and maybe this is because I don't understand the whole black market underground art trade, however, what did Boris think he was going to do with it?

The entire story is riddled with false moments of suspense. While I loved Popper the dog, the poor creature was used as a tool to create more false moments of anxiety than the actual Goldfinch painting itself. I spend the entire book thinking there was going to be some reason for Popper's inclusion in this story, and while I love a dog as much as the next person, I never found that reason.

Overall, I have to give two stars because I loved the first part of this story. As Theo dissolved into a pit of vomit and vodka, I waited for something to happen that would redeem him and this story. Never happened. I will say this, the writing is impeccable, it's just the story construction that left me empty.
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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 December 9, 2014
Best Sellers
Just gave up a losing battle with a Goldfinch, a sophomoric, overblown tour de force that never gets entirely off the ground, or really makes a point. It rambles, through endless corridors, arriving nowhere. Originality is difficult, no doubt about it, but quality is also a factor, and good writing, like good art, unless your knowledge, experience and instincts guide you, is virtually unattainable. Author Donna Tartt has been tagged as "Dickensian" but I think someone influential made the pitch and others jumped on the bandwagon, for a free ride. We might also detect shades of Ian Fleming, or Dan Brown or even Tolstoy, but their novels move and flow and in the end hold up. In all truth, regardless, this book is boring. More than Dickens and his garbage-strewn Victorianism, it would like to be "Shantaram" but never even grazes the surface, despite a showy writing style, which dazzles, then hits a clunker, or like its characters, who aspire to something memorable and end as very Americanized clichés. Even the art is treated in worn-out terms, not as the product of pain and inspiration, but as property, to be valued. So does the cost confirm the worth? Not even remotely.
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