‘The Goldfinch’ by Donna Tartt


The story starts with its protagonist, Theo Decker, at age 13, living in New York with his mother. Theo’s father is out of the picture, which draws Theo close to his mother. On a visit to the Metropolitian Museum of Art, the pair are involved in a deadly attack that kills Theo’s mother and leaves Theo effectively abandoned, with nothing more than a painting he took from the museum that his mother loved.

The story then follows Theo’s life as he moves between a wealthy family living on Park Avenue to the desolate and reckless life he has with his father and girlfriend in Las Vegas and eventually back to New York.
Without giving away the whole story, we see how Theo’s life is inadvertently controlled by this secret painting and how it allows passions to grow, love to eventuate and obsession to control.

This was the first book I read when I started working at a bookstore and it is still one of the best books I’ve ever read. It was a literary sensation that was highly anticipated after Tartt’s successful novel ‘The Secret History’. The Goldfinch was 11 years in the making

There’s been mixed feelings of this book. A lot of critics thought it’s profoundness was fake and that it drags on, it’s a whooping 771pgs. However, it did win the Pultizer Prize in 2014 and does have some great themes and insights

Major themes:


-Friendship and family in all sense of the word

-Identity and the ability to change ourselves

The writing style I think is very mixed because the protagonist is aging as we read, going through the formative years of adolescence to adulthood the writing voice matures but because we need to understand to significance of the painting

It’s been described as Dickensian because of the way it highlights the underpinnings of class within America and how it represents the young and the old and cruelty and kindness

The mood of this book can sometime be downright depressing and it’s in these sections where a lot of people struggle to finish the book but it’s worth sticking with it because you see how Theo becomes everything and nothing all at once. To be complex and so human all at once…it’s very interesting. Why does Theo keep a thing (the painting) that is giving me so much burden? Because it’s the only connection he has with is mother

Once again, I’ve chosen a book set in New York and I have no problem with that because we get to see the wealth and the organic nature of the city in one hit

What does this book add to the genre of art fiction? It shows us a very literal way of how art can have an impact on us

‘The absurd does not liberate; it binds’ – Albert Camus

Highly recommended!

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