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Review: The Goldfinch

November 1, 2013

The Goldfinch

Because he was suspended, thirteen year old Theo and his mother were heading to a conference at his school.  The cab ride made his mother sick so they got out to walk and it began to pour.  They decided to duck into a museum until the rain eased up a bit and the unthinkable happened.  A bomb exploded, killing Theo’s mother and knocking him out temporarily.  When he came to, he walked out of the museum unnoticed with a painting, The Goldfinch, under his arm.  Theo lived with the family of a friend for a while until his father showed up and took him back to Las Vegas with him and then things seem to go from bad to worse.  Several years later, as he reflects back on his life, Theo realizes,

Things would have turned out better if she had lived.  As it was, she died when I was a kid; and though everything that’s happened to me since then is thoroughly my own fault, still when I lost her I lost sight of any landmark that might have led me someplace happier, to some more populated or congenial life.

The Goldfinch, by Donna Tartt is Theo’s story.  He was a kid pretty much left to his own devices and, boy, does he make some poor decisions along the way.  My heart ached for him and, even as I hoped he would do the right thing, I understood the reasoning behind the decisions he did make.

The book is told from Theo’s perspective in the first person and it’s long and rambling at times but the writing is so gorgeous and the story is so engrossing, I was captivated the whole time. Tartt brings her characters and settings alive and writes with heart and emotion.  In the end, all the little details and detours in the story are necessary.  I loved the story and savored it as I read it.

My book club was lucky enough to read and discuss this book.  Since the book is so long, we decided to take two months to read it and discovered that everyone finished it in less than a month.  All but one person loved it and that one person liked it and said she was still mulling it over in her mind.  We had a great discussion about the way events affect our lives and delved into the symbolism of the painting.  One of our members studied art history and she brought in a copy of the painting and gave a presentation on it.  Our discussion lasted longer than normal and one member commented that she thinks it’s the best book we’ve read.  With themes of love, loss, and freedom (to name a few) The Goldfinch is an excellent book club selection.

Review copy provided by Hachette Books.  I am an Indiebound Affiliate.
33 Comments leave one →
  1. sandynawrot permalink
    November 1, 2013 6:38 am

    That is a pretty glowing review and report that your book club loved it so much! Normally there are usually 30-40% that find fault or didn’t like it enough to finish. (We have an inordinately high number of pregnant women with small children, so if they finish something, this is the best vote of confidence they can give.) I have to say that for the first time since this book came out, I’m intrigued.

  2. November 1, 2013 7:56 am

    I did not enjoy the first book I read of this author so its difficult for me to pick another one but your review has me interested. Thanks for the post.

  3. November 1, 2013 8:26 am

    That’s a strong recommendation from you and your book club! I loved The Secret History and can’t wait to read this one.

  4. November 1, 2013 9:23 am

    I love your review. I also listened to a podcast with the author that was really interesting. Another book to add yo the list!

  5. November 1, 2013 9:50 am

    I need to read this one yet – maybe this would make a good suggestion for my book club.

  6. November 1, 2013 10:11 am

    Great review! I so need to read this!

  7. Beth Hoffman permalink
    November 1, 2013 10:23 am

    Fabulous review, Kathy! I am reading this book right now, and holy cow do I love it! Even though it’s a chunkster, the pages just seem to fly by.

  8. November 1, 2013 10:53 am

    Wow! Your book club meeting on this book sounds awesome – a presentation on the painting (how cool!). And your enthusiasm for the book makes me want to read it ASAP!! I’ve never read anything by Tartt, but sounds like I need to. Thanks so much for such a wonderful review 🙂

  9. November 1, 2013 11:01 am

    Hope to have a chance to read this book soon. My book club has a list for the coming year, but since we don’t meet in December, maybe I will have a chance to read it then. Thanks for the review. I may not have considered it otherwise.

  10. November 1, 2013 11:38 am

    Glad to hear that your book club liked it. I’m jealous that you had an art historian in the group. Can’t wait to get to this one.

  11. November 1, 2013 11:54 am

    I’m so glad your book club enjoyed this one! I have an ARC sitting on my shelves taunting me. 🙂

  12. November 1, 2013 2:31 pm

    Sounds like a great book to read with others; love that someone was able to present on the painting too!

  13. November 1, 2013 3:59 pm

    This sounds like such a wonderful book club pick, and I’m thrilled to hear your club had such a lively discussion about it, and that it was mostly positive reactions. My book club is looking for a December choice, and I’ll definitely be suggesting this one. Lovely review!

  14. Patty permalink
    November 1, 2013 4:01 pm

    Now that sounds like a great book night!

  15. November 1, 2013 4:07 pm

    Now that sounds like a satisfying book club discussion.

  16. November 1, 2013 4:18 pm

    This sounds good, I may recommend it to our book club. Thank you.

  17. November 1, 2013 5:03 pm

    I haven’t read anything by this author, and I’m still uncertain about attempting this one.

  18. November 1, 2013 6:09 pm

    Wonderful review, Kathy! It sounds kind of sad, actually really sad, but I’m sure it’s also really engrossing. This one will be added to my TBR list.

  19. November 1, 2013 7:34 pm

    Glad that you and your book group loved it. me too.

  20. November 1, 2013 8:48 pm

    Great to know what a book group thought of this one! I wish I had a group to discuss it with. You’re so lucky! :]

  21. November 1, 2013 10:34 pm

    A great club pick. I’ve seen a couple of people say it will be on their favorite of the year list.

  22. November 2, 2013 12:32 am

    Wow, that’s quite an endorsement. It’s only the size that’s making me keep away right now. Funny how I just finished The Girl You Left Behind, a book centered around a painting.

  23. November 2, 2013 8:53 am

    Maybe I’ll have to put this one on one of my book club lists! I’ve never read anything by her.

  24. November 3, 2013 7:59 am

    When I grow up I am absolutely going to read this book. Just dying to. I dream of a vacation full of reading.

  25. November 3, 2013 8:54 am

    This is the first review of this book that I have been so curious about! I can see how it would be a great book club selection so I maybe I will have to suggest this one in the future for my group. Thanks for sharing it Kathy!

  26. November 3, 2013 10:49 am

    A unanimous book club recommendation? My curiosity is definitely peaked. I will have to add this to the TBR list, with the hopes of reading it soon after NaNoWriMo

  27. November 3, 2013 11:20 am

    I like this one a lot too. It was long and rambling, but Theo is such an interesting main character I wanted to know what would happen to him.

  28. November 3, 2013 4:57 pm

    I’ve been wanting to read this one. It does sound like it would be a great book club pick.

  29. November 4, 2013 12:01 pm

    I don’t know that I’ve heard of this one before but I’m definitely going to check it out now.

  30. November 7, 2013 3:43 pm

    My group read The Secret History a year ago and we were all very lukewarm (that’s putting it nicely). I’ve been very very curious about this one since then so I’m glad to hear you all enjoyed it and had such a great discussion. Unfortunately after The Secret History I’m not sure I could convince the rest to pick this one up. Well…actually since Andi/Estellasrevenge and I make up half the club, maybe we could… 😉

  31. bookingmama permalink
    November 10, 2013 9:30 am

    I think you’re book clubs reaction to this novel says a great deal.

  32. swright9 permalink
    November 15, 2013 4:53 pm

    Wow sounds like you had a wonderful book club discussion on the book. It’s great that the painting was brought in and talked about. How neat. I plan to get to this likely in paperback. cheers.

  33. December 22, 2013 2:54 pm

    I just posted my review of Goldfinch – it was one of my favorite fictions of the year and I added it to my Best Books of 2013 list. I did not; however, include it on my Book Club Recs list solely because of the length. However, I agree with you that it is a fantastic book club selection if your club is especially ambitious. Or – reading over 2 months is a great idea too!

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