recently read: The Goldfinch, Donna Tartt
This is the best book I’ve read in a long while and the best book I’ve read this year. Every review I’ve read describes this book as “Dickensian” which is a very apt comparison; Tartt’s book is filled with the sort of happenstance and motley characters for which Dickens is known.
The Goldfinch relays the life of Theo Decker, who we first see at age thirteen when a chance visit to the Met with his mother results in her death after the museum is bombed. In the terror and confusion, and spurred on by a dying old man, Theo takes his mother’s favorite painting, “The Goldfinch,” with him when he rushes out. What follows are the trials and mistrials of his life, the painting tethering him to life and his mother as he moves in with family friends, then to live in Las Vegas with his alcoholic, gambling addict father and stepmother, and then returns to settle in New York.
A book this lengthy is difficult to describe; Tartt uses the heft of the book to stretch her legs, combining incredibly believable and stunning characters with plot that is, at times, softly moving and, at others, tumbling and messy. Importantly, the book doesn’t feel overlong or unnecessary—everything has its place.
The last chapter of this book is one of the best final chapters I have ever read; it manages to be weighty and meaningful, but not overdrawn or unrealistic. This is a book about truth and beauty and art and the ways that art can change truth and beauty. It is remarkable and stunning; it is a book that is so worth the hype it has been receiving.