I’ve heard so much praise for The Goldfinch – Donna Tartt’s latest novel – in the last year, that I just had to read it to find out what all the fuss was about. And, I didn’t think the praise was unfounded! The Goldfinch starts in New York City, where a bomb explodes in the Metropolitan Museum of Art that kills 11 year old Theo Decker’s mother. The story follows Theo to Las Vegas and Amsterdam as he struggles to come to terms with his mum’s death and form the shattered pieces of his life back together.
Initially I was a bit daunted by the length. The Goldfinch is a mammoth book, over 700 pages long. I packed it for an interrailing trip across Europe last month, reasoning that at least it would keep me occupied on the long train journeys. Yet, every time I devoured another few bite sized chunks of The Goldfinch I felt I was reading mini episodes of a radio or TV show, carefully constructed short stories within a wider narrative.
The pace and energy of The Goldfinch suited me perfectly. Some criticism has fallen on The Goldfinch for not being ‘realistic’ or ‘serious’, but I suspended my disbelief enough to enjoy the story, even when coincidental events were a bit too good to be true plotwise! Every character was beautifully detailed and complicated, from alcoholic, Russian teenage dropout Boris to Hobie, the slow steady craftsman who are the guiding friends of Theo for many years. For me, The Goldfinch was everything I wanted it to be – meaty, character driven and a thoroughly engrossing read for dipping in and out of across Europe!
Ps: I find it really hard to recommend a book/film without giving away the whole plot (it’s a real problem) so I steered well clear of plot almost entirely!