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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 21, 2014
Raise your hand if you skimmed through the last 200-300 pages. I agree with most reviews here, terrific story with great potential that turned into a self interest philosophical meandering. I loved the beginning (although again, I thought the Theo would never get out of that museum with all the rambling) and I loved the part in Las Vegas where Theo transformed from the sweet kid with a loving mom into a lost boy of the desert. The character of Boris was a captivating diversion and so central to Theo's dark development. Hobie was so central to his good side. Once the whole fracas of the drug and art dealing ran on and on at the end I was disenchanted and disappointed that an exciting intricate story turned into a sleeping pill. Some good editing would have made this book a 5 star book easily. I loved the Secret History and it was the only book I've read twice. I was hoping this would be as well written. Hopefully Ms Tartt wll learn from her readers comments and make the next book her best yet.
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on November 24, 2013
The Goldfinch has so many beautiful moments spread throughout the book. The first 1/3 is amazing and so perfectly done. After that, you get the feeling that the writer decided to go with a stream of consciousness writing technique that rambles and meanders and all the while you have to wait for the story to begin again. The reader gets exhausted, the story tedious. And, this writing illness gets worse as the book progresses. Many long rambling passages of sheer boredom. Editing would have helped immensely because a beautiful story is buried within. I kept with it till the end and it was beautiful but I had to work hard for it...really hard.
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on May 23, 2014
Look, she's obviously a talented writer. She captures depression, loss, escapism, and self-loathing with extreme precision and empathy. Having also lost my mother at age 14 in a very sudden and unexpected manner, I found that aspect of the book to be very cathartic and extremely accurate making me feel like I experienced something universal. However, this book is sad, sad, sad, and as much as I wanted to like Theo, he is extremely unsympathetic and self-destructive. Maybe it's because I also suffered a tragedy similar to his and escaped the cycle of self-destruction that I judge him more harshly. Also, I found the portions of the book regarding art and furniture making to be too drawn out, pretentious, and inaccessible. Anyway, I finished the book, which is not something I do if I am not into the story, so it is good. The last 300 pages or so were pretty suspenseful. However, I am not sure I would recommend this book to too many of my friends unless they were really in the mood to feel suicidal for the month or so it takes to read it.
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on May 24, 2014
Had I seen a physical copy of The Goldfinch in a bookstore I would have weighed it in my hand and walked away. I don't read 750-page novels--life's too short, book's too long. But I downloaded the Kindle edition, gave it a try, and I was hooked. Here's some of the best writing I have read in a long while, along with compelling characters, emotional depth and some passages that are laugh-out-loud funny. The young protagonist came alive as the most authentic teen voice I can recall since Holden Caulfield in Catcher in the Rye. His Ukranian-born friend Boris is a marvelous if disastrous character, and Tartt's handling of Boris' dialect and humor is one of the most fun aspects of the book. I thought the story bogged down late in the book, before finishing strongly, which is why I did not award 5 stars. But it's worth all the time I put in on it, and I know I will remember this book long after having forgotten most of the novels I have read lately. Don't miss it if you value writing that soars.
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on August 18, 2015
How can your heart not go out to Theo who obtains a glorious painting (and mysterious ring) after his mother dies from a bomb explosion? As the plot progresses, you feel a wide range of feelings towards this young man.

No matter how mercurial my feelings towards Theo ranged, I could not help but love him. He is bounced from place to place with the stolen painting being his dearest touch to his mother.

Theo moves in with his friend Andy's family on Park Avenue. Andy is sickly and Theo has a complex fascination with Andy's mom. Yes Andy's "mom has got it going on." Andy spends his free time at an antique shop run by a Boris Karloff-like antique restoration artist named Hobie.

As a teenager, Theo is living outside of Vegas in a pretentious Kardashian-like home with a grown-up Honey Boo Boo for a step-mom. His father is out of touch and could possible be an angry zombie from the "Living Dead".

Wouldn't that drive any teenager to booze, drugs, and PIZZA? Thank heavens, Theo finds a best friend in Boris. That adds a whole new dimension of life, excitement and danger for Theo.

Dad dies, Theo returns to New York to the one consistency he has had in his life beyond the magic of the "Goldfinch" painting--antiques. Theo loves to work with antiques, sell antiques and hang with Hobie. Wax-on, wax-off...is the key to taking care of fine antique wood.

However nothing is always as it seems...danger is afoot.

Till the end of the book, I found myself cheering for Theo and then missed him immediately upon reading the last page.
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on July 18, 2015
Four gold stars for masterful writing, story development, character development and creating an Objective Correlative that ebbs and flows from a painted masterpiece of a goldfinch. This is a novel that requires stamina from its reader--it is quite long, and the main character, Theo,--damaged and suffering from post traumatic stress disorder--reels through his story with maddening self-destruction at every turn. The passage through his teen-age years is too long. The endless chain of bad choices and substance abuse becomes hard to take. Yet this device succeeds in raising and sustaining tension as the reader can't help but become concerned for Theo's future. This tension is mirrored and concentrated in the climax during Theo's hotel stay in Amsterdam.
"Only occasionally did I notice the chain on the finch’s ankle, or think what a cruel life for a little living creature— fluttering briefly, forced always to land in the same hopeless place."

I felt the resolution was too long and needed editing. Because the writing IS so descriptive, the reader doesn't need the prolonged and unwieldy "closing arguments" to wrap up the story's meanings. Better to let the reader savor and reflect than to serve up the gist of deeper meaning through stale, rehashed leftovers.

The Goldfinch examines the interface between idealism and the harsh reality of human existence. What is the meaning of suffering, if any? Do bad/ good things happen for a reason or is Life a matter of chance and Fate? Are there "old souls," angels, and ways to gain insight into hidden, predictive patterns? Or are we pawns in a bigger picture? Are we responsible for unintended consequences or is a Life story dealt at the mercy of events, existing as flotsam and jetsam upon an ocean surface? The Goldfinch is an ambitious and worthwhile read, even if the questions posed cannot be fully known.
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on January 16, 2014
After reading the Secret History, her first novel, I was hooked on Tartt. Then followed The Little Friend and then the long wait for novel 3 The Goldfinch. It's a very long read and my only complaint was that I feel at least 50 pages could have been left out or maybe I was just tired of reading it and that is why I did not give it the 5 stars that I think it deserves. Donna Tartt digs deeply into her characters and inserts her razor sharp observations about people who get in trouble and can't find their way out. Somehow, they do. It is important to me when reading a novel to know the characters intimately, Donna Tartt provides this intimacy and you feel as though if you saw these characters in real life you would be able to pick them out of a crowd. It was worth the 8 yr. wait.
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on June 5, 2016
Do not be deterred from this book because of Amazon's low (in my opinion) rating. This is a gorgeous novel, a rare cosmic intersection of beautifully crafted words and terrific story. Its characters are timeless. The author does not skim the surface of settings and themes, but carves down into the marrow, creating a completely engrossing experience for the reader. Do yourself a favor and start this novel today.
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on June 3, 2015
A very intense read full of descriptive passages, heart-wrenching moments and multi-dimensional characters. The tone of the book is sombre but thoughtful, with main character Theo Decker the unreliable narrator who progresses from 13 year old to 26 year old, all the while grieving for his mother and the people who left him behind. The novel's themes of fate vs chaos, and whether events are bad, good, or only made so in the eye of the beholder, emerge throughout the story and are elaborated on at length in the last chapter. The book could've been a couple of hundred pages shorter (almost every scene and character is described in incredible detail, even if they don't move the story forward) but overall The Goldfinch is a book difficult to put down. Tartt considers the aspects of life that we often don't want to think about, and does it through beautiful language and compelling characters.
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