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2 of 4 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars The goldfinch's egg- only good in parts., 9 Jan 2014
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This review is from: The Goldfinch (Hardcover)
I really wanted to like this book which starts out so well with delicately drawn likeable characters and a random act of kindness which shows how even the young can be altruistic and generous. Theo is a lovely young chap, or so it seems. His Mother is a rather unconvincingly glamorous do-gooder in a white satin trenchcoat(yuck- does such a garment exist?), but never mind, she is awfully nice. Although she does ramble on making very cliched cringey observations which attract attention in art galleries.
The prose is very beautifully crafted with some wonderful descriptions and observations which I found quite enjoyable.
A delightful romanticism is coupled with incisiveness and great narrative.
Young Theo's kindnesses gives him the key to live with his genius nerd best friend's starchy family after his Mother's rather shocking and sudden death. Their innocent and rather sweet relationship once again outlines Theo's apparent strength of character.
We still like him. All bodes well. He meets only good people like the Middle Earth Hobie with his rather boring joinery business. A nice man, but obsessed with wood. Theo, with his nerdy aspirations is soon mixing up polish and choosing a lovely bit of mahogany. All perfectly enjoyable.

By the middle of the book though, the glamour deteriorates as our rather heroic boy sudddenly and quite quickly degenerates into a sexually experimental, weed toking chancer. This all seems so terribly unlikely, that it feels like you have fallen from watching a delightful french movie into slightly Tarantino-ish zone. Language is coarse,gritty and funny as are the spasmodic forays into drugs and drink and a bleary homosexual affair.
One minute we admire our hero's sharp mind and kindnesses, next he is a foul mouthed slob living with his boorish father and his sharp faced piece of totty with a verminous stoner called Boris as a best mate. Boris is painted as rather nice deep down but actually he seemed violent and erratic to me, and quite unlikeable, especially after he smashes his girlfriend Kottke in the mouth.

Soon after yet another death( boy, is Theo unlucky?) , he runs away with his 'stepmother's' lapdog,and he does return to being delightful and kind, if understandably neurotic. Romantic, refined thoughts of his beloved Pippa are still unsullied. He simply lies in her bathtub smelling her strawberry shampoo. I thought he might be likely to be exercised quite differently after all his lustful conversations and actions in Vegas.
I cannot believe he can even look his old friend's like Hobie and Pippa in the eye!
The boy should be in Rehab! But no, he goes back to mixing glue for mortice and tenon joins- admiring its syrupy aroma without even using a paper bag.
We have a continuity problem here.
This really lost me. Either a book is a gritty piece of teen-reality writing or it is something quite different.
The book comes across as an adult oriented, rather arty book with a slice of dirty young adult fiction shoved right in the middle. I have no idea why.Editorial interference?

The other problems were with Theo seeming to have the touch of death about him, people seem to drop down dead in bizarre accidents.

I found his bad luck rather surreal.

The book suffers from Plot-itis, a simple story embroidered and magnified into a massive biopic and herein lies the problem.

If Tartt had stuck to her initial inspiration, the simplicity and clarity of Flemish painting it would have led to a simpler and more veracious book. The constant padding, however interesting or well written belies the start of the book, when all was clear and radiant and then suddenly destroyed.

Tartt is trying to write about hope, about courage, but she keeps sinking into the prosaic, the anecdotal, so the initial sharp focus is finally lost in a sea of Creative Writing.
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Showing 1-2 of 2 posts in this discussion
Initial post: 10 Jan 2014 14:05:51 GMT
I do not like this review as it reveals far too much of the story. In fact it seems to be retelling the story with a few personal opinions thrown in. This is not helpful to someone who is about to read the book.

In reply to an earlier post on 10 Jan 2014 17:04:11 GMT
Last edited by the author on 10 Jan 2014 17:28:36 GMT
PenFriend says:
I have not retold the story at all. I have focused on the characters and the style,nothing I have revealed is not in the book's blurb and other reviews . The mention of the deaths of all the peripheral characters, is essentially quite ludicrous and almost bound to court remark.
NB. Reviews are usually based on personal opinion, I cannot review based on general or borrowed opinion. Everyone who has reviewed this book has done so via personal opinion.
Your opinion of my review is also personal .... ahem!
The plot is so circuitous and longwinded, I would be hard driven to give it away- I have merely provided a scrap of its tortuous journey.
I am sorry you do not like my review, but I do not like this book very much and found it overblown and badly written for nine quid.

Due to the hyperbole surrounding Tartt's book I cared enough to review it.
If you wish to read the book please do so. Then we shall find out what you think of it.
Personally, I never know why people bother to comment on reviews unless they have read the actual book.....?
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