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55 of 61 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Brilliance and paradox
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...
Published 3 months ago by Alison Porteous

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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Death, addiction and an overdose of words
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...
Published 2 days ago by M. Tobolewski


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55 of 61 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
4.0 out of 5 stars A worthwhile read, 8 July 2014
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This review is from: The Goldfinch (Kindle Edition)
I read this as part of a bookclub and was not my choice. I worried about 864 pages and how I would get through it.
Starts off good with an event that clearly impacts on Theo's life and will forever do- losing his beloved mother in a terrorist attack.
I lost interest for a while and got stuck around the "Vegas" chapter when Theo is taken to live with his father and pill popping girlfriend. I also felt the descriptions of Theo and Boris endless drug taking, drinking, glue sniffing went on for too long.

I think as an animal lover, i regained interest when Theo escaped vegas with Popchick(the maltese neglected dog of dads girlfriend)
and I was touched by his feelings for the dog throughout such a rubbish existence.I almost cried when he eventually turned up at Hobies and expected as always to get rejection and was brought in to safety and how surprised he was that someone may do that for him.
I read over 600 pages in 2 days after this point and it was at times a real page turner.

As someone with a faith in God, I didnt mind the Philosophising and God details at the end but wondered where they had come from m for both Boris and Theo as no such things appeared to have been discussed before.
I also wondered how Theo and Boris functioned with such endless drug use however, I do not have personal experience of just how much you can take and function with at any given time.
Overall, I really enjoyed the book and at the risk of being controversial can say the Goldfinch painting never really carried that much weight with me throughout the book other than its obvious connections to a life long lost
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434 of 485 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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1 of 1 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
(REAL NAME)   
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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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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Such a good read, 2 Mar 2014
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This review is from: The Goldfinch (Kindle Edition)
An intense and powerful novel where Tartt really gets inside the head of the main character to convey a depth of understanding of what it means to be human.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Bed knobs and Broomsticks and Tiny Painted Masterpieces, 19 July 2014
By 
D Webster "djelly" (Bristol UK) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: The Goldfinch (Hardcover)
Fabulously involving and laugh out loud funny on occasion. This is a lengthy novel of serious literary intent. It poses a real dilemma about the place of beauty in our lives and ownership of beauty. The narrator falls into a dark place from onset and this gets so bad later in the novel that my sympathy for him failed a little, but he does come out into the light eventually and I enjoyed the ending. Boris is a wonderful literary creation although he does fall firmly into the lovable rogue category: I loved his Meer Cat accent and that the only book he had ever read was "Dragon Tattoo". The questions this novel poses stay with you.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Hard work and disappointing, 18 July 2014
This review is from: The Goldfinch (Hardcover)
Too many descriptive paragraphs that confuse the reader. The dialogue in parts is so bad it has to be re read to be understood, the young boys in the early part of the book speak to each other in a language which is totally out of place in the 21st century. A strange mixture of children's and adult literature. Iife is too short to read 800 pages of boring, heavy handed writing such as this, I gave up after 200 deciding I didn't care what happened to the main character.
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11 of 13 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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2 of 2 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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11 of 13 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Life is too short, 26 May 2014
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This review is from: The Goldfinch (Kindle Edition)
Its a very long book, I stuck with it, as I always feel a loyalty to a book, I hate not to finish one. But this did not repay my steadfastness. The first part is grand, interesting story about a boy who loses his mother. But during the last part, I found myself skipping page and pages of waffle to get to the end. I read this on my kindle and that is what stopped me from flinging the book across the room when I reached the end. I loved Secret History so feel betrayed and let down by this book.
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The Goldfinch by Donna Tartt
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