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442 of 493 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Magical
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,...
Published 9 months ago by A Reader

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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Very disappointing, long and boring book. Steer clear if you want something fast-paced.
Read Donna Dartt's Secret History and loved it. This couldn't be any different; long, endless description of random things with very little happening. Thoroughly unlikeable characters apart from Hobie. Scanned long parts of it looking for some sort of plot in between all the endless descriptions and towards the end hardly read any of it (because it was irrelevant) as I...
Published 3 days ago by Eliza


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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Very disappointing, long and boring book. Steer clear if you want something fast-paced., 28 July 2014
This review is from: The Goldfinch (Paperback)
Read Donna Dartt's Secret History and loved it. This couldn't be any different; long, endless description of random things with very little happening. Thoroughly unlikeable characters apart from Hobie. Scanned long parts of it looking for some sort of plot in between all the endless descriptions and towards the end hardly read any of it (because it was irrelevant) as I was that desperate to just finish it.
If you like philosophical, descriptive books then you may enjoy it but if you like something fast paced with a meaty plot this is certainly one you should avoid at all costs.
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442 of 493 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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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars struggled to the end, 2 July 2014
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This review is from: The Goldfinch (Kindle Edition)
I really enjoyed The Secret History, and although I enjoyed parts of this, I found it quite nihilistic, and towards the end, I just wanted it to be over - I didn't want to spend any more time with these characters, especially the gloomy narrator.
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61 of 69 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Brilliance and paradox, 13 April 2014
This review is from: The Goldfinch (Paperback)
Rarely these days does one find a writer brave enough to confront so unflinchingly the desperateness of the human condition in the 21st century. But Donna Tartt is such a writer and it is this which raises her novel The Goldfinch to the highest level of art. The protagonist Theo Decker has been compared to Pip in Great Expectations but the reality is that this is a far darker tale than Dickens' novel.

Dickens shines a light on the bleakness and wickedness at the heart of 19th century British industrial society but in his novels there is always the conviction that good and right will triumph in the end. This was still a Christian world he was writing about after all and his Victorian audience expected a happy ending even if the reality did not quite live up to it.

But the amoral world Theo Decker inhabits following the death of his mother in a terrorist attack in New York, is a world of unrelieved bleakness where there are no certainties any more. Once on the road to corruption through drugs, deception, stealing and dishonesty there is no way back. Without a family to offer some sort of protection or relief, Theo has absolutely no hope in a society which is fundamentally corrupt at every level.

From the well observed social workers whose job is to process Theo through the care system, to the wealthy Barbour family with their coolly efficient lifestyle, concealing fundamental psychological flaws, Donna Tartt paints a picture of quiet desperation where there is no longer any possibility of finding anything that resembles home ever again. It's a picture of alienation and as such utterly convincing. Only with Hobie the antique restorer and Welty's niece Pippa does Theo find a temporary bolt hole where he can genuinely relax.

But the narrative takes on a darker aspect altogether when Theo's unreliable alcoholic father turns up finally with his new girlfriend Xandra and they move to the outskirts of Las Vegas to a life of gambling, baccarat, drinking and cocaine. It's here that Theo meets Boris, a dissolute but entertaining Ukrainian with a similarly unreliable and violent father, who has lived in Australia. Together they dabble in everything, Vodka, beer, drunken swimming, shoplifting, drugs and sex.

There is a point in this novel when you think, so.. is this simply a rites of passage novel, the move from childhood to adulthood by way of drugs and alienation? Is Theo finally bound to settle for the inevitable dull mediocre future of adult life with its nine to five cycle, chained to the capitalist machine for a lifetime? I mean, what else can there be now? What can there be after you've done everything else, except to end up as a carbon copy of your hopeless father?

But here's the surprise. No. No. That's not it. It's worse. So bad in fact that ultimately there seems to be no way back. Even Theo sees this in the end.

But then just to confound the reader even more, there's a twist. Just when you believe things can't possibly get any worse, the enigma of The Goldfinch,the painting by Fabritius which Theo stole from the museum, works its own magic. The paradox is that hope springs out of paradox. This is the nature of art and love and all greatness.

Donna Tartt writes with the cool eye of the observer standing just far enough away to see clearly. But I defy you not to be moved by The Goldfinch and its finally hopeful message.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Awful, 25 July 2014
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This review is from: The Goldfinch (Kindle Edition)
We had this book chosen for our book club read. There was quite a mixed response to it, a couple of people loved it, a few were still plodding on, determined to eventually reach the end, then there was a larger group of us who gave up....very quickly!
Why? Well when you switch on your kindle and it tells you your anticipated reading time for said book is 24 hours, well, you expect a page turner. Um, well, that didn't happen for me, I got quickly annoyed with all the over descriptive fluff. Keen not to give up too quickly I kept on with pure grit and determination.....honestly. Book Club members kept telling me a good bit was coming soon...on I trudged, well let's just say I lasted to the bit where he leaves the accident and that was it for me, my head got turned by a book that didn't threaten to bore me rigid.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The Goldfinch, 13 Dec 2013
By 
S Riaz "S Riaz" (England) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: The Goldfinch (Kindle Edition)
I discovered Donna Tartt through The Secret History and, although I enjoyed The Little Friend, I didn't feel it was in the same league as her debut. So, I approached this novel with some trepidation but, I am delighted to say, it was unnecessary. This is a masterpiece - in fact, it may well end up considered her greatest work. A huge, sweeping novel, which takes you on a roller coaster ride, doesn't let up for a minute, and has a breathtaking ending.

Theo Decker is a young boy when we meet him, who lives with his mother in an apartment block in New York. His father has left and his greatest worry at that point is that he has been suspended from school. On his way to a meeting with his headteacher, Theo and his mother visit an art gallery and his life changes forever. A bomb explodes and Theo is unable to find his mother. Instead, he finds an injured, elderly man, who he had seen before wandering the gallery with a young girl. Before dying, the man gives Theo a ring and he also takes a painting - The Goldfinch, a masterpiece painted in the 1600's. That whole scene is like a dreamscape, as Theo emerges onto the street almost unnoticed and returns home. However, he cannot remain alone forever and, before long, social workers emerge on the scene. From that moment on, Theo is shuttled from place to place. He spends time at the home of a school friend, visits the antique shop of the man he saw in the gallery and finds his business partner, James Hobart 'Hobie' and meets the girl, Pippa, is reclaimed by his estranged father, befriends another lost soul, Boris, at his new home in LA, before returning to New York. Throughout his travels, Theo is neglected, often lonely, always feels an outsider and, although he fears discovery, clings to the painting that he took that day. It is meaningless to say more - this is a huge book and you will need to give it your time and attention, but it will reward you amply. A stunning achievement and possibly the best book of the year.
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7 of 8 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Death, addiction and an overdose of words, 22 July 2014
By 
M. Tobolewski (Nottingham United Kingdom) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: The Goldfinch (Paperback)
Bought after a friends recommendation, initially griping and totally absorbing. You feel for the young fella Theo, a modern day Pinocchio - not knowing his conscience, unable to tell right and wrong but empathy wains through his adolescent years and young adulthood, with the daily repetition of numbing his way through life with copious drink, drugs and petty theft that turns him into passive invisible character. A coming of age piece of fiction, rooted in our time with tons of cultural consumer references.
All wrapped up in the blurred lines of morality and the beauty of art compared to banality of life.

I enjoyed most of this book but at times found the writing irritatingly overly descriptive without purpose and the pace two thirds through stalls and the storytelling gets lost within itself. It picks up with the awaited but implausible reappearance of
lost characters with a plot twist that pushes us through to the finale but it's consequences brings on another heavy dose
of long-winded indulgent self loathing. This actually built up my hopes for darker untypical 'neat and tidy' American pop ending
but no .. and when the story eventually ends, so should the book .. but no! We are preached at for 20 more pages.

Still it's a good yarn.

So many have commented upon .. a lack of strong editing, I totally agree the book could have been intensely better.
I do hope Tartt does eventually sells the rights and the film version is only 'based' on the book ..
giving over the story into the right hands and paired down to it's essence, this it would be an absolute cracker!
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars For me, this did not work, 27 July 2014
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This review is from: The Goldfinch (Kindle Edition)
The plot and the main characters are simply too implausible and the self destruction of the latter is unremitting to the point of tedium. Having read 80% of the book, I gave up and only returned to complete it 6 months later. Even after this break, I found myself sighing with exasperation at each implausible turn and the continuing spiral of decline. The story could have worked in half as many pages.
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12 of 14 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars was the editor afraid to take to the scissors?, 2 May 2014
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This review is from: The Goldfinch (Hardcover)
Having just finished this book I turned to the reviews section of the amazon site…and I was so glad to find my opinion shared by so many people: Yes, I did think the book is much too long, Yes I wondered why the editor had not taken a more decisive stance and cut at least two thirds of it. Why is every bit of boring commonplace dialogue so worthy of being 'reproduced'? why does everything that Boris says and does is given such an extensive coverage? why do we need to know every detail of the wedding preparations-when we've perfectly 'got it' that it is something that poor old Theo will not be able to go through? Why have I lost interest in all the gangsta characters, to the extent that I could not quite recall exactly who Sacha was, and all the ins-and-outs of drug dealing across continents? Why is the ending so full of these quasi-philosophical musings which I skimped across?
I wish Donna Tartt was not taken so seriously as to be compared with Dickens! And please do not wait another 10 years for the next one: write something shorter, since you evidently write very very well.
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17 of 20 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Overrated, 12 April 2014
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This review is from: The Goldfinch (Kindle Edition)
This book received so much attention on magazines and newspapers, such rave reviews, I could not wait to start reading it. I first downloaded the kindle preview and enjoyed it, so I went on and purchased it. Unfortunately the rest of the book was not as good as the beginning. I can't say exactly when I stopped liking it, it was probably when Theo moved to Vegas, at about 30% in the kindle book. I kept going, hoping it would change and get more interesting, because so many people liked it that I thought, there must be something to it...I eventually did manage to finish it and actually, the ending was the worst part. But first the book. I just couldn't like Theo. I first felt sorry for him because of course, when a child loses his mom like that, who wouldn't. But then the part in Vegas was so long, so irritating, I couldn't care less for those endless descriptions of how he and Boris would get high and throw up on the carpet! I got the picture, no need in my opinion to spend so many pages on such descriptions. I found Boris' just as unlikable, with his annoying accent, and how he always knew everything better because he had been through so much. The story goes on with bad things happening to good people (Was the part about his old building really necessary?) and Theo who doesn't seem to be able to get a grip and keeps making irresponsible decisions. Hobie is so nice that he can't be real. Then finally the ending: that endless pretentious philosophizing on art, life and everything else...coming from this junkie? No thanks.
Two stars instead of one because I appreciated the broadness of vocabulary which Donna Tartt surely does have. As a non-native English speaker this is something I am always looking for in a book, as it helps me improve my language skills.
Glad to be moving to a new book.
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The Goldfinch
The Goldfinch by Donna Tartt (Hardcover - 22 Oct 2013)
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