Thursday, 22 May 2014

The Goldfinch, by Donna Tartt

4 stars

Since finishing this book last Saturday, I've been struggling to find what I'd like to say about it. 

This is at least partly due to the vivid characterisation and intimate detail that was also on display in The Secret History, meaning I feel less like I've just read a book and more like I've stumbled across a set of secret journals kept by someone during some of the more stressful times in their life.

Following the life of Theo Decker from early bereavement in New York to virtual abandonment in Vegas, and then back to New York as he navigates early adulthood, the characters were given such life that I wouldn't have been surprised had I heard a knock at the door only to find Boris (in particular) on my doorstep.

Filled with anxiety and tension, this worked both for and against the book at times with me being either so enthralled I didn't want to put it down or so worried about what cruel blow circumstance would deliver next (or anticipating the disappointment that would be felt by other characters at discovering what was going on) that I didn't want to pick it back up to find out.

If anything, my only real complaints about The Goldfinch and the things keeping me from awarding that fifth star were the ending, which kind of petered out for me after all that anxious nail-chewing, and the fact that while excellent this wasn't quite as excellent as The Secret History. But if you've got some time on your hands and fancy getting lost in a world that seems almost as real as your own, you could do a lot worse than picking up The Goldfinch. Just make sure you've remembered to take your anxiety medicine when reading (oops!)


  1. I agree about the ending. Wasn't as thought out maybe as some of the other plot twists and there were some beauties. There was quite in depth characterisation in places and at times depressing. I don't want to compare it closely to Catcher as i loathe that and didn't hate Goldfinch but parts were similar, where Theo was reflecting on stuff and it seemed a bit get a grip! It was a page turner and good despite the dark bits.

    1. I hadn't thought of it in connection to Catcher, but now you mention it I can see why it would occur to you (I read Catcher twice - once as a teen and once as an adult - loved it first time around but loathed it the second, and mostly just wanted to slap Holden).

    2. I thought this book was too wordy.

    3. That's a fair comment - happily I quite like wordy ;-)