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70 of 74 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 4 months ago by M. READ

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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars frankly boring. The characters
This book should come with a "Government Health Warning": it might well depress you! I stumbled upon this novel because of enthusiastic reviews in a well established, highly-regarded upmarket weekly journal. I admit to never having heard of Donna Tartt. The start of the novel (the first 100 or so pages) is riveting. But thereafter it just slowly disintegrates: the...
Published 1 month ago by Johnny


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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars frankly boring. The characters, 19 Nov 2014
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This review is from: The Goldfinch (Paperback)
This book should come with a "Government Health Warning": it might well depress you! I stumbled upon this novel because of enthusiastic reviews in a well established, highly-regarded upmarket weekly journal. I admit to never having heard of Donna Tartt. The start of the novel (the first 100 or so pages) is riveting. But thereafter it just slowly disintegrates: the writing becomes tired,repetitive; the story-line,at first so bristling with interesting ideas, becomes flaccid and.frankly boring.The characters, with one notable exception,are either unlikeable, or plain one-dimensional. By the "Amsterdam" section, I just longed for the end and skim-read the final 150 or so pages.The "killing" is depicted in sub-"O" level prose.
And yet...and yet: there are several passages of elegiac writing,some lovely musings of loss and grief. It's such a shame an editor couldn't have persuaded Tartt to shorten this novel to 400 pages as opposed to the 864.
An unusual theme,a great idea ,has been allowed to mushroom out of all proportion. What a shame that the drug-induced atmosphere of much of the novel has clearly suffused the author,too,causing a loss of judgement.
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70 of 74 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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5 of 5 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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6 of 6 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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36 of 39 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Where is a good editor when you really need him/her?, 28 Sep 2014
This review is from: The Goldfinch (Paperback)
The hype and critical plaudits persuaded me to buy this book, yet here I am, 320 pages into this saga, and I am still reading about Theo and Boris 's endless vodka and vomit scenarios in a bleak and windswept corner of Las Vegas.
I am not only wondering where this unpleasant episode will take me, but also wondering how, after 300 + pages! we finally arrived here; believe me, the journey was far from interesting, the characters were easily forgettable, the plot meandering beyond belief, and I really, really cannot face a further 400 pages of meaningless and uninspiring drivel. My main concern is that I was " duped" into reading he reviews, "conned" into Radio 4's coverage of Ms Tartt's new novel, and sadly, I totally believed the critical acclaim quoted within the book. How can this be so gripping, so heart- stopping, so heart-rendering, so thrilling and touching, so masterful!!
I am a book addict. I am of mature years. I have read hundreds upon hundreds of books. I love reading. So how can this be such an awful novel, yet so highly acclaimed.
There have been many comparisons made between The Goldfinch and Great Expectations. Ignore the references. Please, please take my advice. The autumnal nights will soon be upon us. Buy a copy of " Great Expectations" and sit by an open fire with a comforting drink, and relish the devour the wonderful characters created for you by Mr Dickens. You will remember them all with great affection for years and years to come.
The characters offered to you by Ms Tartt will be forgotten before you turn a page and close the book and place it in a dark space at the very black of a library shelf.........never to be viewed again.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Not for me, 29 Sep 2014
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This review is from: The Goldfinch (Kindle Edition)
I bought this on recommendation from a fellow book lover who raved about it. I can't say I agree, initially I got into the story straight away and found myself intrigued by how the story was unfolding. I can't deny its a good storyline but I simply got bored with the Authors endless long descriptions and felt that some chapters were dragged out. I'm annoyed with myself for not finishing it but I found it boring and I was continuously skipping pages to avoid the drivel. I realise from the reviews I'm very much in the minority apologies to all Donna Tart fans.
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11 of 12 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars It's a Tartt alright, but such treacle..., 7 Nov 2014
This review is from: The Goldfinch (Paperback)
Life is too short to spend it reading huge, self-indulgent, un-edited books of the NY literati, award winning or otherwise...The book made no sense to me, had no obvious message and what it tried to evoke, failed.

It divided my book club, but apart from 2 people, the rest veered towards finding fault with it one way or another. I tried my hardest to finish it, but struggled to engage...it felt pointless.

I couldn't help but guess at what the situation may have been: big name secures book deal but needs to deliver the goods after 12 years of staring at a painting, writing the "great American novel". Needs to placate the publisher, so cue 770-odd pages of unadulterated toss. Editors too much in awe of the name of the author to do their job right and throw it back at her with a thud. Publisher sighs and thinks, well it is a doorstop, we can do good publicity with her name and get every dufus on the planet to go buy it (including myself), so there's money to be made here. Audiences read, get baffled, but then get seduced by the furore of the critics and decide they have read a really good book.

No, you haven't.

If you are still thinking about getting this book as a pre-Xmas read, don't bother. Use your time to get re-acquainted with a russian classic, dunno, like War and Peace? It will while away the time quicker...
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12 of 13 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Beautifully written very depressing, 16 Sep 2014
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The Secret History was so beautifully written that I read slowly in order to prolong it. Donna Tart just writes so fantastically well that I started the Goldfinch thinking I was in for another tremendous treat.
However, now that I am in three quarters of the way through I find I just cannot read anymore. Almost all the characters are just horrible apart from Hobie and I just do not want to read anymore about the self destruction of Theo. After having a terrible start to life, and an appalling stage with his neglectful and ghastly father - he finally gets on the road to happiness but falls down heavily in to a spiral of misery. I just cannot read anymore of this depressing story tho I think Donna Tart writes divinely.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Well written, but ultimately rather soulless and pointless, 29 Nov 2014
By 
R. A. Davison (UK) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: The Goldfinch (Kindle Edition)
The Goldfinch was read for my book club, but I had already bought it and would have read it anyway.

The third of Donna Tartt's novels, she appears to only bring one out every ten years. My prior experience with her novels was that her debut The Secret History remains in my opinion one of the best novels I've ever read and her second The Little Friend one of my most loathed novels as a reading experience in terms of hours spent versus satisfaction gained.

What then of her third? If The Secret History was love and The Little Friend hate, I would have to class The Goldfinch as indifference. I neither loved it nor hated it and found it somewhat 'meh' to coin a slang phrase.

The reason for this is simple. The book can clearly be split into four distinct zones, each of which feels like it's part of a different novel. New York Part 1, Vegas, New York Part 2, and Amsterdam.

New York Part 1, where the novel starts is great. An explosion at an art gallery kills Theo's Mum, during the aftermath he befriends a dying old man and steals a priceless artwork, before being sent to stay with the rich family of his best friend from school. Though he knows he should return 'The Goldfinch' it becomes a symbol of his last link to his Mum, and he worries about being punished. He contacts the loved ones of the dying man he met and becomes part of their world too. This whole section was such a good setup, all the characters introduced here are interesting and intriguing and you feel that this is the beginning a really beguiling novel. The family Theo stays with are a family of secrets and you wonder what you will find. But from here the novel takes a turn.

The plot moves us away to Vegas, a colourless landscape, with a Russian stereotype of a character named Boris. It's all a bit been here read that and feels a very different novel

Section three finds Theo back in New York and my overwhelming feeling about this Section was that no-one besides Hobie was particularly likeable. it's all a bit depressing, that angle of things. His best friends family due to events, have become incredibly altered from the people we met in Part One so much so in the case of his friends mother, a stoic if ever there was one, as to be unrecognisable as the same character. Again this seems like a different book.

The return of Stereotype Boris leads us to yet another section which feels disconnected to the rest of the book in the style of a crime thriller in Amsterdam of which I was unenamoured.

The closing epilogue is a trite and somehow patronising treatise on The Lessons Theo Learned About Life From This Experience, a section which goes on for pages and doesn't really need to exist at the length that it does. It seems to exist purely to tell the reader what they should have inferred from the novel and what conclusions they should draw. Tiresome.

All of that said, it is well written and enjoyable to read as you go along, but the overwhelming thing we felt at Book Club was "what was the point of it all?" it doesn't seem to have a point, and is not dare I say it, a book literature as a whole would be lost without.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Impressive book both to its volume and quality, made by skillful storyteller, 8 Nov 2013
This review is from: The Goldfinch (Hardcover)
"The Goldfinch" by Donna Tartt is a literary work that will take some time to read it, but you'll enjoy it fully, both during and after its reading, due to author's masterful style and interesting story.

Main character named Theo Decker when he was young survived an explosion that killed his mother.
He will be left by his alcoholic father, his grandparents that are his only family will ignore him, until he would be accepted by virtual strangers and drawn into the underground world of art.
Feeling only love considering the art, reader will accompany Theo on his life journey, through all the problems that would be placed before him, somehow looking that he puts almost none effort to change his life...

"The Goldfinch" is somehow dark novel but what makes it great read is primarily the author's style and level of details which is hard to describe, managing to make even ordinary things that are happening in everyday life interesting.

Tartt knows with the words being an excellent storyteller, she draws pictures using her words, provides so much details that resulted in a work length of 800 pages which will be really challenging for some readers.
But, those patient readers will enjoy her style certainly; when for example she speaks about winter days reader can actually feel like looking at the scene with her/his own eyes...

Also, what is impressive is how good Donna Tartt managed to write this novel from the male perspective that's a quite uncommon especially given the length of her work.

Speaking about novel's characters, they are nuanced and will quickly go under your skin.
Considering main one especially, the author must get credit for his creation because Theo is well-made and believable character throughout his all turbulent maturing which is followed in the novel.
At the novel beginning he seems like a nice guy to who life wasn't fair, but as plot will gradually unfold he will slowly ceases to be so likeable, given the many opportunities that life affords him to get out of trouble.
But on the contrary it seems that he likes to be around people and getting into situations that will make his life even more complicated.

"The Goldfinch" is an impressive book both to its volume and quality, made by skillful writer that know how to deal with words which are all of them enjoyable, literature work that shows how art can expand human life and make changes in ourselves...
And due to all of that this novel can be highly recommended, although be prepared for a long but pleasant journey through its 800 pages.
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The Goldfinch by Donna Tartt
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