The Goldfinch by Donna Tartt

goldfinchAh, The Goldfinch, perhaps the most anticipated book of 2013. What can i say about it? It topped just about everyone’s Best Of lists, and yet I’m not sure it would have made mine if I had actually read it in 2013. That is not to say that i didn’t love parts of it. In fact, I read into the wee hours of the night on more than one occasion. But as a whole, I found it a little to long, and I felt that at times (you know when I’m talking about) Donna Tartt was writing both out of her comfort zone and genre.

To a certain extent I feel a little sorry for Tartt. Having a debut novel like The Secret History is a hard act to follow. For me it was the perfect book read at the perfect time, and it seems that almost everybody feels this way. I’ll be perfectly honest and say that i was disappointed in her second book, The Little Friend. From what i can remember of it, it was a little spooky for my liking.

The Goldfinch is a sprawling novel. I had problems getting into it at first, but once I did I was hooked. Tartt’s writing was precise and detailed. The psychological effects of what happened to our young protagonists were superbly wrought. The path his life took was inevitable, and yet I kept hoping he’d escape from his family legacy.

Once I got into the book (which took about 150 pages) I was hooked, right up until the end, in Amsterdam, where the novel once again fell a little flat for me. And this is the part when I say that Tartt was writing outside of her comfort zone, and perhaps outside of my reading zone. It was too long, too detailed. I just wanted things resolved.

Who would like this book? It doesn’t really matter what I say here, because The Goldfinch may well be the book of the year. If you are a person who reads and likes to be in the know, you are going to read it. It is a chunkster of a book, so if you like a long read, you won’t be disappointed. Although not all of the novel was set in New York, it did put me in a very New York frame of mind. Love that Manhattan lifestyle. Overall, I’d rate it a 4 out of 5, but alas, it was not the perfect novel that The Secret History was, so i can’t give it a 5.

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18 Comments

    • Don’t get me wrong, The Goldfinch is good. But for me it does not quite live up to all the hype. There is no question that Tartt is a masterful writer, but the story ran astray for me at times. I loved The Secret History, but that being said I likely read it in the mid 1990s, so how good is my memory?

  1. I have The Goldfinch waiting on my kindle and while I’m looking forward to reading it the size has kept me at bay.

    It is too bad The Goldfinch didn’t meet your expectations, I’ll go in a little more cautious now, thanks for a fair review.

  2. I like how honest this review is. I tried to read The Little Friend a few times but just couldn’t get into it, which has put me off trying anything else by Tartt. I think if I do try anything else, it’ll be Secret History rather than this one.

  3. I’m afraid I wasn’t a fan of ‘The Goldfinch’ but I also couldn’t make it through ‘The Secret History’. I’d agree that they are similar in style – I just wish I wasn’t one of those rare people who doesn’t appreciate these books. 😦

  4. I thought the end was right out of an action movie and had trouble buying into it. Also her philosophical musings at the end felt a little put-on. And Theo doesn’t really sound like a 13-year-old in the beginning, does he? I had some issues with it but I thought the pacing was really good for the most part. And it was really well-written. And Boris is the most likeable character ever 🙂

  5. A book I could not put down and when I got to the end, I started it again. I wanted to help this boy with what he was going through after his mother died. But of he went on his own, then more interesting characters join the story. Each one is so interesting and believable. But I will not write more, as the reader must travel this journey.

  6. Pingback: The Rise and Fall of Great Powers by Tom Rachman | 52 books or bust

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