5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
on 11 March 2015
I very much enjoyed 'The Secret History', I have a copy of 'The Little Friend' which I really must read (!) but have read 'The Goldfinch'. I was interested to read other reviews because I had mixed feelings about this one. It is a very long book, but that doesn't matter because for my Donna Tartt will always be about the writing and not about the plot. The plot is as it is, it is interesting enough, one doesn't really care about any of the characters; the only character Tartt makes us care about is a pet dog. None of the characters are particularly likeable. There are a couple of characters who are a bit one-dimensional, but in general the plot rolls along and is enjoyable.
What I am always astonished by in Donna Tartt's writing itself. The beginning of the book is quite incredible. The aftermath of an explosion, which comes as a complete surprise (you know something is going to happen, Tartt takes you this way and that anticipating it but it still comes as a surprise) is stupendous. Tartt has a wonderful way of writing about confusion, shock, and high adrenaline stuff - like in 'The Secret History' where the character runs through the night - and takes us brilliantly into the mind of the main character at that point. After this, there is a long section where the character is living in Las Vegas, where nothing happens, there is just desert, sand, and constant sunshine beating down day after day. Many reviews have complained about the length of this section but for me it was the best part of the book, as the endless narrative and the nothingness of the activity just captured the mood of this part of the novel; it was fantastically languid. For me this felt like a narrative device rather than Tartt trying to fill pages. The book moves on well, but towards the end we get a bit of a diatribe on the nature of life, art, the universe and everything, which I could have done without.
101 of 109 people found the following review helpful
on 14 August 2014
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
17 of 18 people found the following review helpful
on 29 August 2014
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'.
27 of 29 people found the following review helpful
on 26 August 2014
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.
13 of 14 people found the following review helpful
on 26 February 2015
Roger Ebert said “No good movie is too long and no bad movie is short enough.” Well I guess something similar could be said of books. Opinion is well divided on this one. I’m in the minority here. It didn’t engage me. I had no expectations. Just started reading it but it just didn’t flow, it was slow and cumbersome. It annoyed me. I don’t care that it was a long book. All the better if I had found it enjoyable. I managed to get to about page 350 before I gave up. I ended up reading the plot summary on wiki just to see how it ended. I don’t see the point of talking about character development etc. etc. Either it works for you or it doesn’t. And it seems to have worked for plenty of folk. But not for me. You will just have to judge as best you can from the free sample that amazon gives you before you take the plunge and part with your hard earned cash. I’ll end with another quote – from Little Big Man – Old Lodge Skins says “Well, sometimes the magic works. Sometimes it doesn’t.”
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
I can't call this a review but it's more about the experience I had reading this book. It isn't a short, superficial read this book is quite long and complex and involves you at many levels. I read no other books whilst reading this and although I get through most books in a few days, it took me a week to read this as I had to absorb bits of it and take breaks to think about what I read. The emotions and feelings evoked as you embark on the journey Donna Tartt takes you on through the eyes of Theo Decker is a roller-coaster.
From the young Theo from the fist page of the first chapter through adolescence and to adulthood, Tartt binds you to her main protagonist and you become so involved you want to know what happens to Theo. However, there is no rushing the journey and somehow you realise you become to care about Theo and what happens to him.
There are long passages dealing with the history of art and antiquities which may not appeal to the interest of some readers but I think the underlying story is strong enough to hold your attention. After living with this book and the characters within for a week I can honestly say no book has drawn me in so deep this year.
If you are looking for an action packed high octane read then this probably won't be for you but if you are willing to be taken on a journey that has it's own pace then this book is one you need to read. Whether you love art or don't I think this book asks some eloquent questions about art and beauty without skimping on action and thrills.
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
I was somewhat apprehensive about reading this book. Firstly, it weighs a ton and secondly, the premise sounded far more odd than compelling: a boy named Theo loses his mother and steals a (real) painting on the same day. Hmm. However almost immediately I was hooked, its length became my friend and I was picking it up at every opportunity to read even a few pages.
Why did I love it so? The writing. The story - let's be honest - is interesting but in the hands of a lesser writer could easily have been forgettable. The characters - with a couple of notable exceptions - are fairly unpleasant. They lie, they swear, they steal, they take far too many drugs and they make terrible decisions. And yes, it probably could have been shorter. There is one section in Las Vegas that seems to go a terribly long time. Still loved it though.
This is a book that feels like every line has been crafted with care and thought and then honed so perfectly that it never interrupts the pace of the reader. Descriptions like: "They were a paid of white mice I thought - only Kitsey was a spun-sugar, fairy-princess mouse whereas Andy was more the kind of luckless, anemic, pet-shop mouse you might feed to your boa constrictor." (Poor Andy was still my favourite character). It takes you right inside Theo's mind. When he grieves for his mother you feel that acute visceral pain along with him. When he's attending a party in a drunken blur, you share the numbness. When you've finished this book, you will feel like you lived his life along with him.
13 of 14 people found the following review helpful
on 15 December 2014
I stuck with this book for about 800 pages, goodness knows why. It is one long tale of misery with no redeeming features at all. If a tale of drugs, drink and unpleasantness is your cup of tea then you might like it. I wish I hadn't wasted my time reading this overlong, dirge of a book.
One star is too many in my opinion.
543 of 612 people found the following review helpful
on 24 October 2013
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.
3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
on 20 January 2015
I'm not sure what the criteria is to win the prize that this book won, but this book did nothing for me at all. In fact of it hadn't been our book club book I would never have finished it. It seemed that the author tried to cram in as many different stories, drugs, terrorism, sex, Russians, gambling, art theft, dysfunctional families the list goes on. I am a prolific reader but I found this dull, it did not grip me in any way shape or form and the only character I really liked died in the first few chapters. Not a book I'd recommend.