Book Review: The Goldfinch by: Donna Tartt
I give the Pulitzer Prize winning Goldfinch three out of five stars for its beautiful language and speckles of both dark and light emotions I think anyone can relate to. The trick is, you need to care about Theodore Decker, or take an interest in the plot to experience these things. If you pick this book up and are bored within the first two chapters, like I admit I was, then just go ahead and shelve it. It really doesn’t get much better. I wanted to see the brilliance of the award-winning book, so I went against my better judgment and finished it.
What I liked:
1) The language, it was highly visual and worked well in a book that spent time exploring the love of objects, priceless art, and the restoration of furniture.
2) The detailed portrayal of every place Theodore goes. When I say everyplace, get ready for the extreme including hotel lobbies, backyard pools, the inside of bus stations, and every street Theodore walks his dog. I liked this extreme in Las Vegas and when Theodore travels to Europe.
3) Rooting for the flawed Theo. I wanted to see his redemption just like I wanted to see the Goldfinch painting returned to a museum. These are what pulled me through the book. If you don’t like Theo, you will struggle getting though this book.
What I didn’t like:
1) The pacing, its slow and in my opinion looses focus after Las Vegas. This book is a great “how to” on the writing of a boring bombing and gunfight scene. How is that even possible, I didn’t think it was, but no I was bored reading both of those scenes. I waited for Theo’s redemption and I waited for his enlightenment. I wanted to see Theo have his “a-ha”, light bulb, I get it now moment. Meanwhile I was subjected to Theo’s endless drug induced haze. Theo experiences just about every drug except intravenous heroin. I could be wrong, I’m sure there’s more drug’s out there not mentioned, but I learned way more than I ever wanted to about cancer level narcotics and glue sniffing.
2) The monologue’s, proof it’s not just novice writers who fall into the trap of having several characters speak in the same voice. The narrative of Theo’s thoughts, are one big rambling monologue, and then there’s all of these introspective monologues spoken by random characters. I was laughing when a drug addict art thief did a monologue over his stolen works the same way Theodore’s mother did in the front of the book.
3) This is a tragedy. Is that a spoiler? There’s nothing wrong with a good tragedy, I just wish it could have been executed in less words, and I’m still ticked off nothing in the synopsis gave the hint of “tragedy”. They’re billing this book as some kind of philosophical thriller. If you guess in the beginning like I did, where Theo speaks about love and his mother, and think, “gee that’s tragic”, then there it is and it doesn’t get any better. Readers of this book should be prepared for heavy themes of death, idolatry, a debasement of love, and a temporal outlook on the meaning of life.
Readers should also be aware of the extensive portrayal of drug use, as well as a how to guide on shoplifting and thievery inside the antiques trade.