[E-book. First published 2013]
It seems like everywhere I go and everything I read leads to ‘The Goldfinch.’ I have read countless reviews and seen some rather mixed opinions on the book hailed as one of the best books of the year for 2013. Many people didn’t like the ending, others found the story a little contrived, but the more I read about the book, the more I wanted to read it. And, once I started, there was no turning back.
Theo survives a terrorist attack on an art museum. His mother dies, but a chance encounter with one injured patron sees him taking his mother’s favourite painting from the museum’s walls. Essentially orphaned, Theo moves from a friend’s apartment to his father in Las Vegas and back to New York with the painting as a comforting reminder of his mother and a source of anxiety at the same time. It is a work that holds all of the allure of an art heist drama. Yet the protagonist is, mostly, endearing and there is an emotional undertone that makes for gripping reading.
Donna Tartt doesn’t bring a character into her carefully detailed story without establishing a sense of continuity for each individual. This gives the book a holistic effect and makes for enjoyable reading. Although quite lengthy, I thoroughly enjoyed the focus on the details (for the most part. Admittedly, there were a few patches where I got slightly bored) and I am astounded at this carefully-woven story.
As Theo descends into the depths of the art underworld, I worried that the narrative would be too strongly focused on the hallucinogenic world of drugs and crime, but the end of the book was worth the perseverance; revealing the true art lover within the plot and giving the reader a taste of the relationship between art and life. I loved the end of ‘The Goldfinch’ – it made me want to tackle the book a second time with the end in mind. There were some elements of it that reminded me of ‘White Oleander’ and the two make for an interesting pair.
No matter the popularity of ‘The Goldfinch’ as a subject of review, none of the blogs or articles gave too much of the story away. I intend to do the same – leaving its passages open for discovery; giving it the air of mystery it deserves, yet celebrating it as a magnificent work of fiction that has captured the attention of readers around the world.