book talk: The Goldfinch by Donna Tartt

WARNING: I spoil things. You’ve been warned.

I’ve had The Goldfinch by Donna Tartt on my to-read list for a while, and I was so glad that a yogi friend invited me to join her book club. It was serendipitous that this was the next book on their calendar.
I started reading this one cloudy evening, which was perfect for the tone of this book. I read out loud, slowly, reading the words for me and for the baby in my belly.

The book is expansive at 700+ pages. There’s a lot of ruminating, which I enjoy, a lot of feelings, a lot of plot, and a lot of loneliness. Theo, whom we get to watch grow up throughout the book, is in the wrong place at the wrong time. He and his mother are at a museum when a terrorist bomb goes off. His mother is killed, and young Theo steals a very famous painting: The Goldfinch. Later, he goes to live with his dad and his dad’s girlfriend in Vegas. Here’s an example of the language and the style (pg. 304):

The painting was hidden, quite cleverly as I thought, in a clean cotton pillowcase duct-taped to the back of my headboard. I’d learned, from Hobie, how carefully old things had to be handled (sometimes he used white cotton gloves for particularly delicate objects) and I never touched it with my bare hands, only by the edges. I never took it out except when Dad and Xandra weren’t there and I knew they wouldn’t be back for a while — though even when I couldn’t see it I liked knowing it was there for the depth and solidity it gave things, the reinforcement to infrastructure, an invisible, bedrock rightness that reassured me just as it was reassuring to know that far away, whales swam untroubled in Baltic waters and monks in arcane time zones chanted ceaselessly for the salvation of the world.

Theo is in the bathtub coming down from one of his many drug induced musings. He’s concerned about life, about bringing life into such a death-filled world, such a place of suffering. He says (pg. 476),

Even the beautiful ones were like soft fruit about to spoil.

I’ve read controversy online about whether this book is good or not. Some literary big-wigs think it is not, and they’re curious as to why people (and many other critics) like it so much. Even in the book world, haters gonna hate, and lovers gonna love. Let’s focus on the love, people.

Yes, maybe the story dragged more in the second half, but on the whole, I loved it.

What did you think?


2 Replies to “book talk: The Goldfinch by Donna Tartt”

  1. That Vanity Fair article is really good, I can’t stand the snobs who think books need to be intellectual masterpieces to win prizes.I have to say I enjoyed all the book(maybe not the Amsterdam/Belgium part as much) the ending was terrific!

    1. Yes, I can’t stand the snobs, either! Many different books appeal to many different tastes, and I’m a fan of reading. Whatever gets people excited about reading is a good thing. Plus this book was FANTASTIC, even if it dragged a bit. My favorite parts were his friendship with Boris and the desert scenes. Cheers!

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