Monday, October 2, 2023

The Goldfinch

 The Goldfinch (2013) by Donna Tartt

Synopsis [from Goodreads]: Aged thirteen, Theo Decker, son of a devoted mother and a reckless, largely absent father, survives an accident that otherwise tears his life apart. Alone and rudderless in New York, he is taken in by the family of a wealthy friend. He is tormented by an unbearable longing for his mother, and down the years clings to the thing that most reminds him of her: a small, strangely captivating painting that ultimately draws him into the criminal underworld. As he grows up, Theo learns to glide between the drawing rooms of the rich and the dusty antiques store where he works. He is alienated and in love - and his talisman, the painting, places him at the centre of a narrowing, ever more dangerous circle.

I don't even know where to begin with this. There is so much here that just isn't my cup of tea. It's told in the first person. It's a coming of age story of boy that I can't have any sympathy for despite the fact that I'm very sorry that  his mother was killed in a horrible terrorist bombing. I mean later in his story we spend pages on him and his burned out druggie friend in Las Vegas. His narrative just goes on and on and on and there's so much detail and "near-stream-of-consciousness, why on earth is he telling me this" stuff crammed into this 700-page doorstop that I tuned out regularly. I would be reading along for an hour or two and come up for air and not remember a darn thing about what I just read. And that doesn't normally happen. If I hadn't needed to claim this for two challenges where I can't change my mind about what I'm reading, then I probably wouldn't have finished. You'd think I'd be able to write a longer review for a book of this size--but honestly, I just want to move on with my life.

I absolutely enjoyed Tartt's The Secret History and so I thought this was a good choice for those challenges. But I absolutely did not enjoy this one. Large numbers of people on Good Reads did and it's won prizes (a Pulitzer, for goodness sake...), so your mileage may vary. But the percentages are high that if you don't enjoy the first 100 pages then you probably won't enjoy the other 600 or so. 

First line: While I was still in Amsterdam, I dreamed about my mother for the first time in years.

Last line: And I add my own love to the history of people who have loved beautiful things, and looked out for them, and pulled them from the fire, and sought them when they were lost, and tried to preserve them and save them while passing them along literally from hand to hand, singing out brilliantly from the wreck of time to the next generation of lovers, and the next.


Deaths = 4 (two blown up; one car accident; one shot--I may have missed some while zoning out)

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