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Showing 1-10 of 21,009 reviews(Verified Purchases). See all 25,265 reviews
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 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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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 November 6, 2015
First, before I launch into my tirade about The Goldfinch, I must proffer full disclosure: I did not READ The Goldfinch but rather listened to it as an audio version. Having stated that, I ask, why did Ms. Tartt win a Pulitzer for this??? The Pulitzer should have instead been awarded to the three reference books she evidently used to write this novel, i.e., The Great Big Book of Similes; The Great Big Book of Metaphors; and, The Thesaurus. This audio version was 26 CDs which turns out to have been about 20 CDs too long!!! At around CD #16 I wanted to quit as the thought of another 10 was akin to punishment for some past act of negative karma

It takes, at the minimum, two things for an audio CD to be good: a good reader and a good story. This had the former but not the latter.
The narrator, one David Pittu, is an excellent reader. He brought many characters to life with his ability to adopt accents, tone and inflection as they might have had they really existed. But, by about disk 15 or so, I grew very weary of his voice. It wasn't his fault, it was the novel. I mentioned the three reference volumes above, even if two do not exist, because it seemed to me that for every verb or adjective Ms.Tartt wanted to use, she referred to the Thesaurus and used every synonym she could find and applied them rather than just the word itself. In the same manner, every event was described with every available simile and or metaphor she could possible pad the sentance/paragraph/novel with. Towards the end I found myself groaning aloud things such as "Come on already, what is it you want to say!" or, "Get on with it!". Fortunately, these statement were made on my early morning walks with few people to startle.

I found the main character to be whinny and basically ineffectual but instead, warming up to Boris's carpe diem nature. I mostly enjoyed the passages in which he was featured but that in itself was not sufficient for me to give this review any more than one star. If it had not been for the raves my family and friends gave to The Goldfinch and, in particular my ex wife, who persuaded me to continue on when I was ready to can it at disk 16, claiming that it "got really good", I would have quit - and it takes a lot for me to quit a book! Unfortunately, I persevered and in retrospect, I am sorry I did for the promised "really good" ending was just rambling sophomoric life philosophy.
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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 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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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 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 January 9, 2017
I was very disappointed with this novel, especially because so many friends had recommended it. I found the first third of the story very engaging, and I sympathized with this 13-year-old boy who was left alone to find answers to difficult questions about his place in the world. But then the story became cluttered with many characters, some of whom were unbelievable and unnecessary. Additionally, the story was bogged down in repetition. I found myself thinking, "OK. I get it. Now can we get on with it." Las Vegas ad nauseoum; drug stupors ad nauseum; Boris and his cronies ad nauseum. After a year of picking the book up and then putting it aside for a while (at least 6 times), I finally managed to finish it. Even in ending the novel, the author couldn't leave well enough alone but felt compelled to tie up all the loose ends in a very cliche manner. On a positive note, the author is a master of detail and description, and uses language artfully. I enjoyed her writing style, but wish she had cut 200 pages from the book.
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on June 3, 2014
The popularity of this bloated, ill-constructed story is a mystery to me. (Was the Pulizter committee on drugs?) Like Tartt's Secret History, it has a thoroughly sad and unlikable male protagonist who blunders through his life avoiding decisions (at best), doing all the wrong things (which he knows are wrong but can't stop himself from doing), and letting himself be used, fascinated and manipulated by glamorous yet usually evil characters. Interminable forays into esoteric subjects like international money laundering and antique dealing mirror the same formula the author used in Secret History for stuff like Ancient Greek. At best, a piece of high-class trash without one beautiful sentence in almost 800 pages.
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