in 100ish words or less:
Teenager Theo Decker survives the fictional bombing of one of New York’s most prominent art galleries, while his mother is killed in the attack. Amidst the confusion of the immediate aftermath, Theo becomes in possession of a priceless 16th century painting – The Goldfinch. As he is effectively parentless after the bombing, Theo moves in with the Barbours, a wealthy New York society family. His absent father later collects him and moves him to the empty outer suburbs of Las Vegas, where Theo befriends Boris, a worldly Russian teenager.
The painting becomes Theo’s compass as he is alienated and neglected, then alienating and fraudulent himself, on a winding path filled with compelling characters, the bleakest of lows and the most euphoric of highs – the best and worst of humanity.
the end result:
One word – riveting. As the winner of the 2014 Pulitzer Prize for fiction, the novel has divided critics, but I found it to be utterly compelling. Already a Donna Tartt fan, I picked up the novel in April, but after being waylaid by study, glandular fever and many shorter novels, I’ve only recently finished reading it. I’ll admit the 771-page tome did take some getting into, but around the 300 page mark the pace picked up and I began to completely relax into the story. I marvelled at Tartt’s often sensuous turn of phrase, her vivid and visceral characterisation and the gleaming beauty her writing evoked from the harshest circumstances. Don’t be put off by the length of the novel – I could have read for days longer. Do yourself a favour, and read it over your holiday break when you’ve got nothing but time and gloriously long afternoons.
Have you read The Goldfinch? Did you love it as much as I did? x