'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.