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91 of 98 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Why the controversy?
Coming a bit late to the party here, I read the novel aware of most of the views expressed, and the deep divisions between reviewers--the majority hailing it as a masterpiece, while a few dissenters slam it. Far be it from me to challenge the professionals, but I think the qualities and faults are pretty clear. No-one surely can deny the charm of Tartt's style, or her...
Published 7 months ago by M. READ

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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars I suppose I expected a great deal because of all the hype surrounding this novel
I suppose I expected a great deal because of all the hype surrounding this novel. I thought that it started out really well. The early third of the book when Theo is a boy was engaging and really seemed to get into the head of a confused and lost boy. However, I started having trouble buying all the coincidences and, moreso, the lack of consequence for events when he...
Published 7 months ago by Expat Cat


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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars I suppose I expected a great deal because of all the hype surrounding this novel, 31 Aug. 2014
By 
Expat Cat (York, England) - See all my reviews
This review is from: The Goldfinch (Paperback)
I suppose I expected a great deal because of all the hype surrounding this novel. I thought that it started out really well. The early third of the book when Theo is a boy was engaging and really seemed to get into the head of a confused and lost boy. However, I started having trouble buying all the coincidences and, moreso, the lack of consequence for events when he became a teenager and and adult. Everything was too neatly wrapped up and, frankly, the author seemed to lose interest toward the end when it became rambling and, to me, boring. I was happy to finally get out of the tedious Amsterdam section and by the end was ready for it to end. It was enjoyable enough, but hardly the revelation that some critics seemed to think.
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91 of 98 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Why the controversy?, 14 Aug. 2014
By 
M. READ (London) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
This review is from: The Goldfinch (Kindle Edition)
Coming a bit late to the party here, I read the novel aware of most of the views expressed, and the deep divisions between reviewers--the majority hailing it as a masterpiece, while a few dissenters slam it. Far be it from me to challenge the professionals, but I think the qualities and faults are pretty clear. No-one surely can deny the charm of Tartt's style, or her ability to set up an intriguing situation (the qualities which made 'The Secret History' so popular). But the problem with an intriguing set-up is that it tends to promise more than it can deliver-- I felt this even with 'The Secret History', which I loved. Here, the last 100 pages are a bit of a mess (maybe that's going slightly too far-- let's say complex and convoluted without enough depth to balance them). But in terms of a reader's pleasure there are whole stretches that are outstanding--for me, particularly the Las Vegas section. Since my taste is always for a novel that tries to do too much rather than too little, I can't help warming even to the excesses. Yes, editors could have taken the scissors to it--but I think they would have taken its heart away--its sense of the richness and complexity of
life.
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27 of 29 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars If Graham Greene Wrote a Script for Breaking Bad..., 23 Nov. 2014
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This review is from: The Goldfinch (Kindle Edition)
I've been meaning to read The Goldfinch for some time, mostly because I am intrigued by it's central character being a painting rather than a person... Having just read the last page I am not entirely sure what to say. It is unlike any book I've read. The writing style is exhilarating, if at times a little overwhelming. Can Donna Tartt really know so much about so wide a range of subjects? She either has a glittering talent for research or a kaleidoscopic breadth of life experience. Her capacity to capture and convey just a few vital details and thus to evoke a whole area of culture is mind-boggling: a powerful parallel to the process she herself describes here, where a great artist, with a few brushstrokes can create a vibrant new reality. She names this process as a kind of huge joke, the artist telling us that what we are seeing is at one and the same time the object and not the object. There is an odd sense through 'The Goldfinch' that Tartt, too, is joking. So much of the story comes across both as real and authentic and as outrageously unlikely. we are tempted so often to disbelieve, only to be shown by sleight of hand that the unlikely was possible after all. 'The Goldfinch' is compelling and readable, with a cast of eccentric characters I feel privileged to have met. Tartt's confidence with language sets her apart as a significant writing talent, and there are moments of reflection on art and the nature of beauty that are exceptional.

The more complex aspect of the book is trying to decide what kind of book it is. In parts it reads as a thriller, in parts as a Dickensian comedy of errors, in parts as a tense romance. Its philosophical musings are worthy of Graham Greene but its central plot-line could be straight out of Breaking Bad or The Wire. It's no bad thing to mix genres and defy formulaic rules, but it will be frustrating to some readers. In the end most will fall back on the cadence of Donne Tartt's prose. If you like her style, as rich and fruity as a brandy-soaked Christmas cake, you'll be carried around the genre corners. If, on the other hand, you can live without paragraph-long descriptions that add little or nothing to the plot, you may just find yourself skipping a page or two.

GERARD KELLY, Author of The Boy Who Loved Rain
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Thank goodness it's over..., 4 Jan. 2015
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This review is from: The Goldfinch (Kindle Edition)
I was really keen to read 'The Goldfinch' for two reasons: I have enjoyed Donna Tartt's previous writing and have a serious interest in art. However, I thought this book was plodding and unnecessarily long. It was also incredibly difficult for me to care about most of the characters, including the narrator/protagonist, Theo, who I found extremely unsympathetic. For me, many of the characters were a bit two-dimensional and some of the characterisations rang a bit false. For instance, Theo's Ukrainian friend Boris is at times capable of (overlong) metaphysical utterings in perfect English, while at other times he'd come up with pidgin English phrases such as 'Is me, Boris', rather than 'It's me, Boris'. Just a small thing but it rang false and awkward. The descriptions of antique furniture and restoration methods were the only passages which struck a chord with me, while the lengthy discussions about art were a bit hackneyed. Although reading is my absolute favourite thing, I actually made myself finish 'The Goldfinch' for the sole reason that I don't like to abandon books halfway through.
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14 of 15 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars I can't remember a book I enjoyed more. I was quite bereft when I reached ..., 26 Aug. 2014
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This review is from: The Goldfinch (Paperback)
I can't remember a book I enjoyed more. I was quite bereft when I reached the end, as I realised that I would no longer be able to delve into the lives of Theo, Boris, Hobie and Pippa. Ms Tartt writes beautifully and although it may sound like a contradiction, as the novel is quite long - sparely. Every word is there for a reason. In short, I loved it. Have bought it for my mum and have recommended it to many others. Thanks Ms Tartt for a book I will remember for the rest of my life.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars A bit of a struggle, 29 Aug. 2014
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This review is from: The Goldfinch (Kindle Edition)
This book was a bit of a struggle to get through, compared to 'The Secret History' (which is wonderful), it was very slow and i hate to say it, boring, in places. The first few chapters are wonderful and gripped me straight away, and I couldn't wait to read on, but as the story went on, I became frustrated and started to dislike Theo. There are some parts of the book I think everyone should read, it is beautifully written, but i'm not sure i would recommend it as a 'must read'.
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528 of 594 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Magical, 24 Oct. 2013
This review is from: The Goldfinch (Hardcover)
This is a tough book to review without gushing and without giving away too much of the story. I am going to gush, because in this instance I can't help it, but I'm going to try to avoid giving away too much of the story, because many of the great delights of The Goldfinch come from that rare experience of reading for pleasure: turning the pages to see what happens next, and losing yourself in this world of someone's creation. So try to know as little about this book as you can before you start to read it. The Goldfinch is a novel of many wonderful surprises, whether it's the introduction of both major or minor characters, or plot twists I really never expected, or unexpected shifts of scenery. (And whoa! One change in location in particular is a masterclass in dramatic handling, artfully rendered and most purposefully done.)

But gush isn't enough, so let me just say this: if you're a fan of Harry Potter or Pinocchio or The Wizard of Oz, if you've enjoyed Truman Capote, Jack Kerouac or J.D. Salinger, or Huckleberry Finn or Walt Whitman, if you've had fun with Breaking Bad or Six Feet Under, if you can imagine Dickensian epics retold for the era of global capital and sprinkled with a dose of Buddhist sentiment, if you love the old masters of Dutch painting, if you love dogs, if you love little birds, if you've loved either of Donna Tartt's other novels, if you live for great storytelling, if you think that art can change the world and that we can love unquestioningly (deep breath) ... if any of the above apply to you in any way, there is a good chance that you might like or even (like me) love this book and be totally wrapped in its embrace.

The ending of the book just soars. It moved me to tears.

The Goldfinch is epic, and it's ambitious. The many fantastic reviews are warranted. It takes risks, and they worked magically for me. Books as pleasurable as this are rare events. Yes, I'm gushing.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Good story far too drawn out, 11 Aug. 2014
This review is from: The Goldfinch (Paperback)
This is my first Donna Tartt novel and whilst it has not put me off reading other titles I must say I was a little disappointed. I was really enjoying the story up to about half way but continued to persevere. I finally gave up when I reached page 850ish because I realised I wasnt actually taking it in it was so boring. Like the other review I read I came back to it a few weeks later and finished it but it was not enjoyable. I have no doubt Ms Tartt is a gifted writer but feel the storyline became laboured and it was very difficult to keep interested.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars 867 Pages Of Impending Doom, 20 Jan. 2015
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This review is from: The Goldfinch (Kindle Edition)
And it is the impending doom that gets you through the 867 pages, as opposed to any other Pulitzer-worthy aspects of literature. This length of book must inevitably stray into other people's territory, and this (more Jackdaw than Goldfinch) helps itself to: "a novel about a painting" (cf The Girl With The Pearl Earring); a conventional thriller (cf the Bourne franchise - terrorist bombs, flight across different continents); the state-of-the-nation/Great American Novel (cf Jonathan Franzen); born-again (as opposed to Bourne-again) redemption movies/books (cf It's A Wonderful Life, A Christmas Carol). But as they say, you can't make an omelette without breaking a few curate's eggs. So: is it the longest book I have ever read? Yes . . . by a mile; is it worth the time investment? Yes . . . just; Did I enjoy it? Yes, but there's a better, shorter book lurking inside this cuckoo's nest; should it have won the Pulitzer Prize For Literature? Surely not?
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Really good, but not great, 30 Aug. 2014
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This review is from: The Goldfinch (Kindle Edition)
The Secret History is one of my favourite books, so I was excited to read this. I loved the opening part - the incident in the museum and its aftermath were exciting, scary and atmospheric. In fact, everything up until the novel changes location completely was great, but after that I found myself feeling less absorbed. I really disliked Boris and his influence on Theo, which is a problem considering how much Boris features in the novel! I found that Theo became less and less likeable and relatable as the story progressed. This made it harder to get through what is quite a long book - it's usually the characters that keep me engrossed in a story. The end was rather ridiculous too. I am glad I read it, and I do think Donna Tartt is a great writer, but I certainly don't think it's up there with The Secret History.
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The Goldfinch
The Goldfinch by Donna Tartt (Hardcover - 22 Oct. 2013)
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