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The Goldfinch: by Donna Tartt -- Review

3.96  ·  Rating Details ·  957 Ratings  ·  168 Reviews
Learn what the experts are saying about Donna Tartt's The Goldfinch with this literary review. Dark themes prevail throughout the novel as protagonist Theo Decker copes with the violent and untimely death of his mother. As a 13-year-old boy, Theo’s grasp of reality is limited, and the tragic event forces despair and self-defeating behavior. With sophisticated themes like d ...more
Kindle Edition, 46 pages
Published December 10th 2013
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Lou Sytsma I agree. The book is very good but there was a lot of repetition of thought. 100 pages could be cut and the book would be tighter and better for it.…moreI agree. The book is very good but there was a lot of repetition of thought. 100 pages could be cut and the book would be tighter and better for it. Probably pushing it to brilliant.(less)
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Community Reviews

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Pamela B.
May 27, 2016 Pamela B. rated it it was amazing
Loved it. As a playwright, especially appreciated the infinite amount of detail in each character's "doings;" almost like watching a play. She sets up lighting, background noise, how the person is feeling (and how he thinks he should be feeling, and a literary example of that feeling...) to such a degree that, just when you are wondering if the book ever had an editor, things take a delicious turn. Boris just made me laugh out loud. The ending had me feeling overdosed in "cosmic truths," but ...more
Kathryn Williams gravelle
Feb 17, 2014 Kathryn Williams gravelle rated it did not like it
This could have been a good book. Basic story line was good; however the main character Theo was a bore and 2 dimensional. His self indulgent musings were too much for me.
Sarah Nichols
Feb 23, 2014 Sarah Nichols rated it did not like it
I found the characters in this tedious opus one-dimensional and unpleasant. I made myself plow through to the end which I found completely unsatisfying. Tartt rambles on for page after page for no purpose that I could discern.
Melissa Brown
Jul 29, 2016 Melissa Brown rated it really liked it
A very interesting plot, and awesome development of characters...however I thought the book was too long. Because it was on the depressing side, I felt like I was slogging through it at times. I generally liked the book and I'm glad I read it.
Sep 09, 2016 Susan rated it it was amazing
Tartt immediately drew me into the story with her amazing descriptions and the moral dilemma she presents. The contrast between NY and Las Vegas with their cast of characters was sharp and believable. I loved the ending and the musing about truth and beauty. I want to read her earlier work!
Rosemarie Pratt
I'm about a third of the way through and dislike Theo so much that I can't finish the book. So as someone else said, Donna Tartt writes very well - I just don't like what she wrote.
Mar 05, 2014 Patti rated it really liked it
I would haven given it 5 stars but although I loved every page of it, it was a lot of pages. The themes explored are timeless. It's been compared to Oliver Twist and I can see why. The writing is superb and the turns that Theo's life has to navigate are each filled with their own turbulence. He does exacerbate the problems sometimes through his own choices but he is a teen at the start of the book. There is humor throughout all his banter with Boris and there relationship is really what ...more
May 08, 2014 Patricia rated it it was amazing
I am so glad that this book came to my bookshelf now. I am retired and have the time to read and assimilate the story at a leisurely pace, so the length was not detrimental for me. I was gettingantsy for a book that was different from the usual "best sellers". This delivered in spades. I think maybe those readers who found Theo two dimensional have no personal insight into how it feels to suffer from PTSD. It is difficult enough to get through daily life with support, but poor Theo is not wanted ...more
Mar 21, 2014 Serena rated it it was amazing
I have read all Donna Tartt's books now and, for me, she is one of the best authors writing today. The Goldfinch didn't let me down either. It is a long, harrowing read but the descriptions, characters and plot carry you along. There were two points in the novel where I had to put it down and have an emotional "rest"! I think I'll have to reread it shortly to appreciate the beautiful prose and descriptions as I devoured the story line, desperate to know what happened to these fascinating, ...more
Catherine Kennedy
Feb 06, 2014 Catherine Kennedy rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: everyone
Dickens for the 21st century -loved it.
Eileen Huston
Jan 10, 2014 Eileen Huston rated it liked it
Way to long for the point it was trying to make.
Yona McDonough
Jun 11, 2014 Yona McDonough rated it it was amazing
Reading THE GOLDFINCH reminded me of how I read as a girl: with total abandon, total immersion. The scope, the shape, the palpable sense of longing--all haunting. Yes, there were few missteps: Theo never sounded like a teen-aged boy (what 14 year old knows the brand of his mother's shampoo? And how is it he never, ever thinks of sex?) but still these things are minor compared with the towering achievement of this book. Great, sprawling, epic, filled with memorable characters and such a strong ...more
Jun 17, 2014 Elisamarie rated it it was ok
This was the wordiest book I have ever read. I think I liked it, but I was so ready for it to end that it took away from my liking it too much.
Feb 11, 2014 rated it it was ok
The book was a weighty corundum with a pretty bow tied at the end. There are a few good lines weighted down by overly verbose narratives. Don't bother.
Feb 10, 2014 Rialto rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I loved this book. It wasn't perfect, and I enjoyed Secret History more, but I cannot give it any less than five stars. So well written, and far too complex for me to go into detail about the storyline. The book starts with a terrible disaster, then takes us on a journey through the eyes of the chief protagonist, Theo, who is in the possession of a stolen painting, The Goldfinch. We meet many fascinating characters: notably Boris. The characters are so well described by Ms Tartt, one could even ...more
Christina Houen
Mar 24, 2016 Christina Houen rated it it was amazing
Yes, I’m three years behind in my reading (at least). I’ve just read Donna Tartt’s 3rd novel, The Goldfinch, published by Little, Brown in 2013, and awarded the Pulitzer prize in 2014.

The cover features a glimpse of the famous, priceless painting by Carl Fabritius (1654), which is the metaphorical subject of the novel, and the key to its plot and central character. The fact that the painting is only glimpsed through a tear in the cover page is a clever symbol for the part the painting plays in t
Jun 09, 2014 Howard rated it it was amazing
Outstanding story of the coming of age of a good kid who is forced to find his way in the world due to a series of tragic events. Throughout the book he's caught in a limbo-like situation somewhere between the privileged rich and the homeless. At each stop, he manages to develop relationships with characters that help him get through the stages of his life. And these characters are SO well-developed. Tartt has the knack of weaving a very complicated story in such a way that it really is easy to ...more
Jan 23, 2014 Loretta rated it liked it
So descriptive. An great book that i just had to finish. The words truly paint the picture for you. But I felt many times it was too wordy, where characters stories were told that really had nothing to do with the main story. It seemed like wanderings of the mind, with truly no point. This dragged it on too much for me. I wondered if maybe the author was being paid by the word?
Jul 06, 2014 Phyl rated it liked it
Donna Tartt's The Goldfinch is favourite to win the Baileys women's prize for fiction and is already tipped for the Booker. Having said that, I was not so enraptured with this book as I expected to be. The characterisation was the standout feature for me, the young boy, Theo Decker, who loses his mother and with her, his moral compass and differing paths that his life may have otherwise taken. All Tartt's characters seem very finely drawn in an almost microscopic way. Once we get past the ...more
Eva Antonel
Apr 30, 2014 Eva Antonel rated it really liked it
This was one of those books that had me vacillating from love to hate. I was drawn in right away by the atmospheric description of New York and was reminded of The Catcher in the Rye as well as From the Mixed Up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler, both books that have a special place in my heart.Half way through the story I felt disturbed by the unremitting detail of drug use and general fall into depravity and despair experienced by the majority of the main characters. There were moments that I ...more
Nov 01, 2014 June rated it liked it
Very tough for me to get interested at first and incredibly depressing, yet the creation of characters and conversations was amazing. Totally believable despite being far from what I've experienced. During the last 3rd of the book I really had a hard time putting it down. Disappointed that the ending dragged a bit. I think the point could have been made more quickly. Still, an intriguing book!
Jan 28, 2016 Kate rated it liked it
Good read, but about 150 pages too long. Too wordy in parts that made it a bit tedious to continue. Secret History a much better book in my humble opinion.
Mar 05, 2014 Sharon rated it really liked it
The only thing that prevented me from rating this book 5 stars is that (as other reviewers have pointed out) it could have benefited from a tight edit. That said, I was totally engaged from the novel's start and found the tale so suspenseful that, once I started to read it, I barely did anything else for three days, until I finished the book. The plot and premise strain credibility but as an escapist novel, it would be a good choice for reading on a long plane trip with long delays or layovers ...more
John Zenoni
Feb 16, 2014 John Zenoni rated it it was ok
I am very conflicted about this book because I really got into the character of Theo and his troubled life. However, while details can be essential to a character's development and/or of those interacting with the central character, there were way too many pages of unnecessary information and I found myself skimming pages at times. Definitely needed more editing on this one. Good book but way too long!
Ellie LaChapelle
Aug 29, 2015 Ellie LaChapelle rated it really liked it
The author is very intelligent and gives lots of detail. Sometimes, it took away from the story. The first section of the book was magical. When the main character was shifted to the desert scenario, I struggled with the plot. It was so hopeless and heartless, often, that the turmoil became more important than the character.
Feb 16, 2014 Armand rated it it was amazing
Loved the book. After a little bit I couldn't put it down.

But there was one thing I had a problem with - the story depends on an event that is a million to one shot. I have encountered this in other novels and always feel that the author should have been clever enough to make to story work with out resorting to a million to one shot.
Diane Feldman
Feb 18, 2014 Diane Feldman rated it really liked it
I enjoyed this book, but it was really long. A lot of descriptions that really slowed down the reading. I enjoyed the characters and the ending - but there was 20 pages after the "ending" that just drug on and on.
Jan 26, 2014 Judy rated it really liked it
I loved the idea of this book and great parts if it. Parts were vivid and full of great character of time and place and people. Other parts were indulgent, boring and too much blah, blah blah. It made me feel alarmed ... Only hoabie seemed to have a useful truthful life. .
Feb 17, 2014 Peggy added it
I skimmed many descriptions and "thoughts" towards the end. I went to the end!! At the end I was angry at Theo, angry with Tartt and angry with myself for having invested the time to read this book. That being said - Tartt writes well. I just don't like what she wrote.
Katie Tauro
Sep 27, 2015 Katie Tauro rated it it was ok
Too long, too cerebral, too wordy. I wish it focused more on the caper than him being in a drug fog.
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