The Goldfinch

June 10, 2014

Ooooooooh YOU GUYS. I don't even know where to start with this book. Not sure if you've noticed, but 'The Goldfinch' by Donna Tartt, is everywhere these days. It just won the Pulitzer Prize for fiction. People who've read it, it's all they can talk about. And I have to pile on with the heaps of adoration, in a BIG BIG WAY.

First first first. Those of you who have so kindly hung out with me here for a long while, have maybe heard me say that Tartt's first book, 'The Secret History' is one of my all time favorite books. I talked about it in last year's summer book list post. I am, and have always been, obsessed with that book, from the moment I began reading it.

So you would have thought, oh yeah, I'd be super keen to read Tartt's newest offering, right? Nopey. I was a bit bummed actually, when I first began hearing about it. It's almost 800 pages long. I felt tired just at the prospect. And the fact that it won the Pulitzer actually turned me OFF. (surely that meant: one way ticket to Boring Town.) I thought, I don't know what game Tartt is playing here with my emotions, but clearly, I do not have the mental fortitude to tackle A Book of This Enormity.

My mom bought a copy and kindly allowed me first crack at it, and I figured, well everyone's freaking out over the damn thing so I'll just jump in.

And here's the deal. It's AMAZING. It's in the top 5 books I've ever read. You wouldn't think one would exactly be able to tear through a 771-page book, but I tore through a 771-page book. Once I began, all I wanted to do was read this book. It's a hook-into-your-soul kind of story.

No spoilers, but I gotta tell you - put on your big kid pants while reading. Theo, the main character....his life is unbelievably rough and heartbreaking, but the person who ultimately damages him the most is himself. And his relationship with the painting described in the book title....it grabs your heart out of your chest, throws it on the ground and then does a little happy dance all over it. It's not giving anything away that isn't already on the front flap to say that basically, it's the journey of someone who has lost everything. And as unrelentingly bleak as that sounds.....it's not. It's like ~ what if Harry Potter has taken the wrong turn completely into a drug-fueled world filled with priceless works of art and wound up learning a lot about furniture restoration and Russian criminals in the process? How's that for the most bizarre plot review ever?

I found myself thinking a lot about what I would have done in Theo's circumstances. Honestly? I'm pretty sure I would not have been quite so self-destructive, but I think it might have been a coin toss as to what would've become of me in a similar scenario. I'm not even sure I would have survived past year one after The Event which shapes the rest of his life.

The main reason I didn't put 'The Goldfinch' in the number 1 slot of this year's summer reading list is because I knew it deserved its own post. If you are looking for something knock your socks off fantastic to read right now, go find yourself a copy of it asap. Oh one more thing about Tartt's writing ~ I'm a skimmer. Always have been. If I see a dialogue-free stretch of descriptive text.....yeah, I'm going to start skimming. But the way she writes is so fantastically detailed and intricately written, you are never tempted to miss a single word. Everything is interesting, and there's never a boring moment or false note in the entire story. Flipping incredible, is what it is. I'm not book clubby, but I really want to start one just for this book. (Fav character: BORIS. yes he's the worst influence in the world. and yes I still loved him!)

My only only quibble is that I feel like it didn't really have to be quite so long. But this is a quibble, really. The book flies, story-wise. And I am here to tell you, this lady has a way of writing that just is unlike anything you've read before. If 'The Goldfinch' is too much for you this summer, start with 'The Secret History' and save 'The Goldfinch' for the fall. BUT READ BOTH BOOKS. I can't throw enough superlatives at either one of them.

These books read like dark, urban fairy tales, written with the skill of a modern Dickens. In interviews, she's said that it takes her roughly ten years to create one of her books. When you read a Donna Tartt story, you'll understand why.




8 comments:

  1. okay, so i've been iffy about whether or not to read this for awhile and you just totally convinced me. Thank you!

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    1. well there you go! i'm always happy when people help me make up my own mind, b/c I'm the most indecisive creature on the planet. Let's chat about it when you're done! :)

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  2. "...what if Harry Potter has taken the wrong turn completely into a drug-fueled world filled with priceless works of art and wound up learning a lot about furniture restoration and Russian criminals in the process?"

    Okay, I just put it on hold. I'm number 26 in line, and there are 11 copes currently checked out. It may be a little while...

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    1. ha ha ha! well, maybe come fall time or winter, you'll have it?? or after I give my copy back to my mom and she reads it, I can mail it to you! ;)

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  3. Not even going to lie--I had no intention at all of reading this book. For someone who spent three years on a French literature degree, I have very little love for the literary fiction genre and stick mostly to fun reading with some British classics thrown in. Now, after your rave review, I'm on the fence. Will let you know if I decide to read it!

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    1. go. go over the fence!!! i'm with you, i get it. I read mostly YA fiction about whatever nonsensical mythological creature I can get my hands on. or children's book. Law school ruined my ability to read Real Literature forever! Or you know, something that I don't have to strain my brain in any way. But Donna Tartt is on her own plane of awesome and is worthy of your time, I swear!

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  4. OK then. I had heard that this was fantastic, but I'm sold with your recommendation. I was afraid of any even inadvertent spoilers (sometimes it's best to go into a book blind without even reading the back cover I think), so I skimmed this and promised that yes, I'll buy it. Even though it's still in hard cover and I make it a rule to wait for paper backs. But I'm desperate for a good book. Thank you!

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    1. I really enjoyed this so much, Miss Amelie ~ the last time a book stuck with me of any note was when I read 'The Night Circus' ~ this is an entirely different experience, but it's really been ages since I read anything quite so engrossing!

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