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on 25 July 2015
The best book I have read in a long time. I didn't want to finish it and the telling point for me is the sadness and sense of loss I feel when the characters are no longer active in my mind. In contrast to other readers who complain about its length, I loved its substance and the writing is superb - especially some of the descriptions of the aftermath of the early incident and then later in Hobie's workshop. I also enjoyed the evocation of the emptiness and aridity of Vegas life. Ms Tartt's attention to detail and research into restoration of art/antiques resulted in a joyous, unforced celebration of art that is rare to find in modern life. I did feel I was in the presence of a modern Dickens and the discourses on life and death, drugs, love, art, destruction were meaningfully linked to an expertly crafted plot. It took me two weeks to read and it was over too soon. Loved it!
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on 1 March 2015
This is the story of Theo Decker, it starts when he's thirteen and we follow him right into adulthood. It's a story of love and loss (lots of loss), of good friends and bad decisions. An epic story weaved by a master story teller. But, oh my godness, this is a long book. Nearly 900 pages (depending on your version), so it takes a while to read. Is it worth it? Read on ...

I did like this novel, Theo is a serious lad who has some really bad things happen to him, it's not a light-hearted book. I was sucked in right from the shocking start, but began to wane in the middle only to be picked up at the end. I did feel like I'd been along for the ride of Theo's life.

I've read a few of Donna Tartt's books (loved The Secret History and The Little Friend) and I liked this one too, but I didn't love it. It's on the same scale of length as A Suitable Boy by Vikram Seth, but whereas that kept my interest (mostly) this just didn't. There's a long section in the middle (the Vegas years) where it was all a bit same-y, I wanted Theo to get his act together and do something.

I liked the ending of the action, alas that wasn't the end of the book. The real ending was quite philosophical and it dragged on a little too much for my taste.

All in all, a good story, plenty of things happened (when I sat down and thought about it, just didn't feel that way at the time of reading), it felt real and the characters were well written. But I won't be re-reading this or recommending it to anyone but the most hardened readers.
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on 1 November 2014
Donna Tartt's latest iclusion tells of a young Theo who steals an old masterpiece from a museum where his mother dies in a sudden explosion. Stuck with the painting.'The Goldfinch' begins to act like an albatross around his neck, creating interest from the authorities as well as gangster types, so he keeps the art piece on a short lead, never letting it our of his sight.
With no one to look after him, he stays with a well to do couple, before he is sent to live in Las Vegas to live with his father who is an irresponsible gambler and drug and alcohol abuser. While there he attends school and befriends a young Ukranian boy called Boris who is wayward and generally left to his own devices. There they become thick as thieves drinking and smoking dope and bunking off school.
When his father dies in a drunken car accident, Theo leaves Vegas and Boris behind where he returns to New York and is sent to a boarding school, which he graduates from and leaves to work with Hobey a strict but supportive man who is employed in furniture building and restoration, of which Theo is employed to expand the business. That rapidly becomes calamitous when Theo sells work created by Hobey as exclusive pieces, resulting in possible repercussions for Hobey's business.
In the background remains the painting which creates interest from several unsavoury characters such as Horsch who Theo lends to as collateral. He is desperate to be rid of the painting, but Theo knows the true value of the piece and soon the situation with it becomes slippery indeed.
On starting the book I found it concise and easy to read, but by the middle the plot becomes overly complexed and turgid. Perhaps due to being overwritten. It seems to be difficult to follow in pieces, and could have been simplified. The beginning of the book is brilliant and the character is originally written, and the piece where Theo lives with his father, is the best part of the book, with Theo slumming it with his father and girlfriend Xandra, who has a complexed system of gambling which results in him in debt with some unscrupulous people, and in desperation forces Theo to make a phone call to his solicitor to fleece money from his mums estate.

All in all a good book. That perhaps needed shortening and simplifying. A reasonable 7/10
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VINE VOICEon 29 December 2014
How can I be original in my praise of this book? Why not paraphrase the critics? 'A novel of the highest literary ambition and dedication'. 'Donna Tartt engineers a recklessly impressive plot... The precocious talent that fired up her cult debut, The Secret History, is on full display here.' 'This book is so beautifully written, you'll want to simultaneously read it at top speed to find out what happens, and savour it.' 'A large-canvas, small-brush picaresque that's both heart-rending and irresistibly wicked.'

I could go on. The Goldfinch is exquisite in its detail, characterisation and symbolism. I was daunted by the sheer size of it - not a quick read. Like Breaking Bad, it's compulsive, original, addictive, long and I just want everyone to read it. It's a book which, for aspiring novelists, like myself, can almost stop you from writing, such is its greatness. But it's inspirational too. Read it.
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on 17 February 2015
I enjoyed the book in parts. I think the Las Vegas section and the week in Amsterdam were overly long. I really liked the art passages though; Theo's love of the subject was instilled by his mother, who he clearly missed terribly. His father was a feckless waster and the fact that he, Theo, was a weak, easily led character, was probably that his life lacked a good male role model - that is until fate took him to Hobie. For me, Hobie saved the book; a wonderful, kind and tolerant man who mostly saw good in others. The Barbour family, apart from Andy were shallow people. Mrs Barbour, too involved with her charities to see what was happening to her family, right under her nose - Platt smug bully, expelled from school for which we never learned why. Kitsey was ditsy, but hard-nosed with it, wanting her cake and to eat it too. Latterly, the Barbour kids, after the death of the father and Andy were quite happy to welcome Theo into the family as he took the pressure off them by encouraging Mrs Barbour to 'live a little' again. Boris frustrated me quite a lot, but he was impossible to dislike, and his logic that bad things sometimes end up good cannot be argued with. I really don't see how the story could have ended otherwise - Theo, more at peace having 'seen' his mother again, making good the fraudulent sales of Hobie's restored 'antiques,' and eventually coming to terms with his obsession of Pippa - both of them too damaged by the bomb blast to heal each other. The picture of the goldfinch was the last tenuous link that Theo had to his mother, as they had both been viewing it just before she died so tragically. The bird was imprisoned by its chains, and Theo also by his loss - he felt that if he had the picture then he could still somehow keep his mother as part of his life. His utter dismay when Boris confessed to switching it with a school book years before was all consuming. The ending gave the impression that Theo was just marking time in this world, but it was also a bit open-ended too, and the reader might suppose that he did eventually find a reason to be. I hope so. A remarkable book.

I have to say if it ha
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on 27 December 2014
I'm still trying to work out how I managed to read all of the 864 pages
of this book - I was going to quit/surrender on numerous occasions.

The advertising made it look an interesting tale, with 13 year old Theo
Decker, after a catastrophe, finds himself alone in New York, obsessed by a rare
painting, which helps him cling to the memory of his mother.

Odd characters pop in and out but nothing of any significance occurs for most
of this book. In fact several times I wondered whether there was any point me
persevering, but for some reason I did.

When I sit back and analyse it, this tale is a master of insignificance, and incredibly over-long at 864 pages.

On the back of the book it says "A gripping page-turner" - yeah, right!

On the front of the book it says "Winner of the Pulitzer Prize for Fiction 2014".
Now that really does make you wonder, especially about the books that didn't win it!!!!!

Conclusion: don't waste the couple of weeks of your life like I did, simply give it a miss. Or if you don't mind
wasting a couple of weeks, save your £8.99 and go watch some paint drying!
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on 27 February 2014
I have been left a little unsatisfied by this novel. It's not as good as The Secret History, but miles better than The Little Friend. I found it hard going at first because Tartt has an unattractive tendency to prolixity; but after a bit, I grew more accustomed to her style and the characters, and in the end I enjoyed it. But the end left me unhappy. SPOILER: She wrote an impressive section about Theo's crazy love for Pippa, and we see a lot of their closeness, culminating in his writing a note in which he tells her he loves her. Then that story is dropped. Nor do we hear anything more about Kitsey, the woman Theo is engaged to. These were two major strands in the novel, but Tartt dumps them without consideration. And she leaves Theo's relationship with Hobie unfinished. Nor do we hear more about his closest friend, Boris. We can make guesses about all of these, but it's not an author's job to leave you with too m,any guesses. Stories demand their own confinement, and this she does not provide. So, it's a fun book with some very good writing throughout, but the end is inadequate.
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on 7 September 2014
I loved it..despite the slightly creaky plot devices and wandering aimlessly off in parts...the writing is superb.

She writes extremely well about heat, cold, atmosphere. The stuff that connects the reader to places that they might never know.The Las Vegas descriptions were some of the best descriptive writing I've read for years.

It's obvious that she writes - and rewrites until she thinks it's as perfect as she can get it. And that must take up a great deal of attention and time..So I would think she fought hard to keep everything in. And most of it is worth the defence.

But because it's such a long work, it's not easy to edit yourself and get it all right.

So it could have done with some sensitive editing to cut it down - I think that her publishers should take a slightly firmer hand.

The last chapter, or so, is slightly strange..it's as if having come a tremendous distance and fought hard on every step, she doesn't quite know what to do when she gets there.

She has the courage to try and come to conclusions - about complicated human feelings that most writers won't make explicit - because they are so difficult to write well about.

So I'm looking forward to the next book ...as she may have shaped the interesting ideas that were forming in the last chapter.
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on 10 January 2017
The first half of this book was pretty good, in fact there were parts when I was gripped. The second half felt like it had been written by someone one drugs. It was so odd. and SO VERY LOOOONG. Give it a miss.
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on 22 July 2017
I read this book because many friends raved about the Donna Tartt novels especially this one. Initially I found it very slow going, I didn't particularly warm to the main character. Once I got into it, it was a page turner and I was keen to see how the chaos would resolve itself. By the end though, although there was a nice tale of redemption, I found myself frustrated and still struggling to empathise with a main character who is weak and surrenders to his weakness.
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