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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars `Throw the book on the fire and be done with it' muses Theo, contemplating suicide, well, I was tempted! but glad I didn't...
Like the Ancient Mariner, Theo Decker has an Albatross around his neck. Just a Goldfinch though, for his burden, a bird a fraction of that size. Eleven years in construction, an eye achingly lengthy 864 pages spent in this very mixed up chap's company, was a long haul, a marathon of reading. Halfway through, with the paperback at last spread open making it easier to turn...
Published 29 days ago by Katharine Kirby

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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars A bit of a struggle
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...
Published 8 months ago by littleblueboat


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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars `Throw the book on the fire and be done with it' muses Theo, contemplating suicide, well, I was tempted! but glad I didn't..., 30 Mar. 2015
By 
Katharine Kirby "Kate" (HELSTON, Cornwall United Kingdom) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: The Goldfinch (Paperback)
Like the Ancient Mariner, Theo Decker has an Albatross around his neck. Just a Goldfinch though, for his burden, a bird a fraction of that size. Eleven years in construction, an eye achingly lengthy 864 pages spent in this very mixed up chap's company, was a long haul, a marathon of reading. Halfway through, with the paperback at last spread open making it easier to turn the pages; there is still another whole book's worth left. Weirdly though, at the end, I could have gone on longer, enjoyed the consequences of the finale, seen into the future further. Apparently 44% of readers give up on this book, as I had done myself when it first came out. This month, being our book club choice, I really went for it and I am grateful that I did. Going back to read the start again was interesting, giving deeper meaning to the events around the terrorist bomb, ('Behind the Scenes at the Museum') and the things said at the time by the dying man Theo stayed with. Yes, you could well read it twice.

Hypnotic, addictive, I was on edge from the word go, trying to work out motivations, dangers, and hidden agendas. Those of the duplicitous dad, the stoned step mum, and the kindly old bachelor furniture restorer, and the two male friends of his own age Theo makes. Street kid Boris being definitely a bad boy, unstable influence, lurching from crisis to crisis with misplaced but empowering confidence, capable of anything, even if only in his teens when we meet him. Nerdy Andy Barbour in his lavish apartment with his uptight family, quite the opposite.

Hacking my way through the forest of bad choices, secretively pursued, unadorned by any social nicety; tediously endless self-prescribed pharmaceuticals, cigarettes, dope, heavy drink just to get drunk, all self-destructive behaviour, was depressing. Chilling nightmare passages of illness, feverish and fantastical dreams, waking confusion, and the adrenaline fuelled flashes of imminent danger pepper the pages. `Vodka and vomit' as another reviewer so neatly put it. Horrors, devils permanently poking him, Theo is in hell on earth. `A spoiled, dirty life' as he calls it, he seems dead from the inside, haunted by that terrible feeling of having committed an unforgiveable crime, and being unable to admit to, or deal with it.

Shining through is the pure feeling Theo has of love for his lost mother; later replicated in his attraction and life long yearning for Pippa, the girl he meets that fateful day at the museum. When he meets and links up with Hobie, the determination to keep him away from the bad parts of Theo's life show how Theo can be careful of people, thoughtful and responsible. These are the clean feelings that beam out from the book, together with the real respect and concern for the wellbeing of The Goldfinch, wherever it might be. Lastly but more endearingly, he bonds with and takes on a little dog, Popper, previously mistreated by his step mum, and keeps it close throughout the book. This theme was beautifully written, as was so much else of course.

Theo is self educated, cultured, sensitive, wise beyond his years, he reads widely, observes and takes in everything Hobie quietly teaches him, becoming an antiques expert, with astonishing recall. I felt for him when shopping for his wedding registry, being asked to approve expensive shiny new crockery when he knew he could find whole sets in funeral sales that had far more beauty and worth.

Boris, when he re-emerges as a grown man is tough to figure out. He keeps taking stuff away in his car, including poor old Popper, and a precious passport. You can't help think the worst of him at times, he is difficult to follow, however, his final Christmas Day flourish was spectacular, explanations not coming out fast enough for the reader or poor ravaged Theo. Tension was hugely ramped up for that revelation.

Understandably such an unwieldy work throws up confusion, I thought that Mrs. Barbour admitted to knowing Hobie from the antique shop, but when Theo explains later that he is in partnership with him she doesn't. The camel hair coat, rendered useless and stained, sodden and hopeless, suddenly becomes able to warm him in the cold hotel room as he waits for Boris. Maybe I am wrong, overly picky, but such blips show me that editing was kept to a minimum, as if I hadn't already realised that by the book's bulk and rambling riffs. I am also uncertain exactly when this was set because there is no mention of a laptop computer/tablet/ipad/smart phone,; just cell phones, although Theo endlessly researched things on the internet. In Amsterdam he worried away at the Dutch newspaper reports which I translated myself in moments, with Google Translate... Maybe he forgot his device!

Pages I loved were 527, 536 572, and 810 when dreams of desertion, destruction and dereliction of duty were exquisitely painful and poignant. All worth another pass over for deeper understanding.
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21 of 22 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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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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93 of 100 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
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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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6 of 6 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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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars What a shocking waste of excellent writing to have the characters do very ..., 4 Jan. 2015
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This review is from: The Goldfinch (Kindle Edition)
Potentially fascinating characters but unfortunately, sealed in a vacuum packed plot line. She should have listened to her editor. I was enthralled for the first third of the novel and then thought, hang on a minute, this ain't going anywhere. The whole of the story left me emotionally untouched. What a shocking waste of excellent writing to have the characters do very little.
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534 of 601 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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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Many hours of my life that I will never get back., 22 Mar. 2015
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This review is from: The Goldfinch (Kindle Edition)
Like many others, I found The Goldfinch to be slow-moving and tedious. The first chapters were interesting enough but after a short while you discover that "hero" is actually a quite unpleasant and shallow character. By the time I was around half way through the book I found that I really didn't care what happened either to him, or the painting he stole. By two thirds of the way through, I was skimming faster and faster because the story really didn't seem to be going anywhere at all and I was getting increasingly desperate to get to the end.
There is no doubt that some parts are beautifully written; but the point of a novel is to entertain and in my opinion this book fails most miserably on that score. Comparisons to Dickens' novels are ridiculous unless one is referring to the sheer number of words. Dickens wrote intelligent, entertaining novels with complex plots and larger than life characters. Sadly the Goldfinch holds none of those qualities. I felt at times like I was being forced to read the first chapter of Swann's way again and again and again until I eventually fell asleep myself.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Not for me, 11 Dec. 2014
By 
Rupert Clarke (Ireland) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: The Goldfinch (Kindle Edition)
Oh god what a painful experience. I just dont understand how people like books like this. I'll be honest, I only read 15% of the book, but it was the most exhausting, pointless waste of time and I wish I had stopped at 5%. Why all the long winded descriptions of things that are irrelevent to the story? I was really disapointed having read all the reviews and I really hope the story eventually goes somewhere, but I wont be reading anymore.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars NEVER AGAIN, 25 Mar. 2015
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This review is from: The Goldfinch (Paperback)
I bought this book because of the rave reviews. Just like all the reviewers quoted on the cover, I read a book about a boy and a painting called the Goldfinch. But it was very clever to give the reviewers a different book to the one I read, for that is where the similarity ended. Mostly boring, occasionally nearly interesting, but never Superb, Dazzling or a Triumph. I kept reading in the hope that I would eventually get to the 'point', but sad to say I reached the end on page 864 without ever find out what the 'point' was. Like other reviewers, I found some of he characterisations laboured and inconsistent. But at least I now know never again to read a prizewinning novel. They may be great for literature academics to flex their analytical skills, but I am not an academic and read for pleasure. There was none to be found here. Or maybe I'm just a Philistine.
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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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