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The Goldfinch

3.86 of 5 stars 3.86  ·  rating details  ·  313,824 ratings  ·  36,005 reviews
It begins with a boy. Theo Decker, a thirteen-year-old New Yorker, miraculously survives an accident that kills his mother. Abandoned by his father, Theo is taken in by the family of a wealthy friend. Bewildered by his strange new home on Park Avenue, disturbed by schoolmates who don't know how to talk to him, and tormented above all by his unbearable longing for his mothe ...more
Hardcover, 771 pages
Published October 22nd 2013 by Little, Brown and Company (first published September 23rd 2013)
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Nenia Campbell I called it Dickensian in my review because of the way that Tartt explores the underpinnings of the various classes in the U.S. Dickens wrote on the…moreI called it Dickensian in my review because of the way that Tartt explores the underpinnings of the various classes in the U.S. Dickens wrote on the wealthy, the poor, the young, the old, men, women, children. He wrote about cruelty and kindness, and sometimes the two sorts of acts were committed by the same person. The characters in The Goldfinch are flawed, but their flaws make them seem more human. I think the existential aspects of Tartt's writing will make this a book people can still relate to centuries from now, just as we can with Dickens now. Both authors, in my opinion, manage to capture the triumph of the human spirit. :)(less)
Raleigh Rand I reread the first few chapters after finishing the book and looked up each painting Theo and his mother discussed before the explosion. The Anatomy…moreI reread the first few chapters after finishing the book and looked up each painting Theo and his mother discussed before the explosion. The Anatomy Lesson and all of them. It made the story even richer after reading. (less)

Community Reviews

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I have not read Tartt’s two previous, and by most accounts, superior novels. In The Goldfinch you can see that the talent is there but something is drastically off in the storytelling. The book drags and drags. It exasperates with unnecessary detail that calls annoyed attention to a critical lack of credibility throughout. The narrator is like one of those panhandlers who stop you on the street and provides too long a story about some travail: my mom and I were just mugged they took her to the h ...more
Jennie Menke
Audible. OH MY GAWD! Who ARE you people giving this 5 star raves? I'm not even half way yet and I'm wondering if I will be able to weather this ridiculously long book that keeps getting sidetracked by just about every teenage pothole you can think of.

And can we talk about motherless orphans? I've lost track of how many motherless main characters are in this book. How can I be this far out of touch with other reviewers?

Halfway thru now. Spending lots of energy trying to be less harsh and t
Never have I been so conflicted about a book. Parts of it I loved. Parts of it I hated. Sometimes I wanted to praise it. Other times I wanted to abandon it.

I'm relieved I've finally finished this novel (771 pages! Good grief!) because I can stop debating whether or not to keep reading it.

It's difficult to talk about The Goldfinch without being spoiler-y, but I shall try. What I appreciated most was the lovely prose — some sections are truly beautiful. Donna Tartt can write an arresting paragrap
So listen. Look. I am a READER, right? I mean, I read all the time, everywhere, every day, a book a week. But most of the time the book I'm reading is a dull throb beneath my fingers, a soft hum behind my eyes, a lovely way to spend a bit of time in between things as I meander through my life. You know? It's something I adore, but softly, passively, and often forgetfully—very nice while it's happening, but flitting away quickly after I'm on to the next.

And then sometimes there is a book that is
Stephen King
Theo Decker’s mother is killed in a bombing that rocks the Metropolitan Museum of Art; Theo, unharmed, escapes with a valuable painting called The Goldfinch. He carries this symbol of grief and loss from early adolescence into an adulthood fraught with danger and beset by addiction. The long middle sequence, set in a housing development on the seedy, sand-blown outskirts of Las Vegas, is a standout. Tartt proves that the Dickensian novel—expansive and bursting with incident—is alive and well.
Alan Wolk
The Goldfinch is a brilliant story with memorable characters and most of the book is incredibly well done and fun to read.

"Most" being the operative word.

Tartt needed an editor to cut out a lot of the repetitive detail (Like several other reviewers, I too found myself page skimming -- sometimes the detail is fascinating, oftentimes it's unnecessary and just slows down the story.)

There are a few other nits a good editor could have fixed, e.g. the internet makes cameo appearances but it's inconsis
okay. so i read it. and i don't want to be all gloaty-gus for those of you who still have to wait three whole months to get your hands on a copy, but i will say, in brief, that it is worth waiting for. it is worth waiting three months for, as you knew it would be, but i don't know if i can wait another eleven years for another book.

because she's still got it. it is beautifully written. it is everything you hoped it would be: characters as complicated and nuanced as real people. situations alter
Lisa Kelsey
As I read the reviews I am fascinated by the fact that I agree with aspects of many of them, whether they rate the book one, two, three, or even four stars. Even the positive reviews point out the very many flaws. I suppose it all comes down to what you are willing to tolerate in a novel. I found Tartt's writing to be at times quite lovely, but I got the feeling she is a little too enamored with her own skill. I am surprised to see the novel described as "dense." It was very, very (unnecessarily ...more
I, Boris, character in this book will give you honest opinion. Very honest. If you are reading this, asking yourself, should I read this book which is 771 pages? Very heavy, not that The Idiot was not 656 pages, so not length I am afraid of. If you are wondering, should I read? I answer for you already and say no! I am one of best things in book, at least not all the time moody, gloomy and so stupid I do not not even look in package. Even though I am very important character I must tell you, not ...more
Gene Schmidt
This was a huge disappointment for me. The opening New York sections were excellent, the description of the museum bombing and the whole Mansfield Park thing Tartt has going with Theo and the Barbour family, all of this works beautifully. I was excited to keep on reading to see where it all ended up, but once things move to Las Vegas the story takes a seriously wrong turn. I seem to be a minority opinion here, but there you have it. I do remember sitting up all night in 1992 reading The Secret H ...more

"It has the permanent quality of literature." Virginia Woolf

Donna Tartt looked at a copy of Fabritius' painting of the pet goldfinch for twelve years while writing her third novel. Here are two associations about the author that I have from that statement. First, twelve years of preparation separates this novel from others. It is apparent that Tartt is in command from the plot development to the unforgettable characters a
Raeleen Lemay
Nov 17, 2015 Raeleen Lemay rated it 5 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Raeleen by: Maxwell
Shelves: favorites, own
I finished it.

And it was awesome.

(Review to come)

The Goldfinch
by Donna Tartt

This is more than a beautifully written novel. It is a life philosophy, a love letter to great art and a literary version of a painting. Humans make art, but art makes us human. Life is full of struggle but the beauty we encounter in this life might be what makes it all worth living.

Three Medlars and a Butterfly
by Adrian Coort

“The Dutch invented the microscope,” she said. “They were jewelers, grinders of lenses. They want
Jeffrey Keeten
***Winner of the Pulitzer Prize for Fiction 2014. Congratulations Donna Tartt!***

”And I’m hoping there’s some larger truth about suffering here, or at least my understanding of it--although I’ve come to realize that the only truths that matter to me are the ones I don’t, and can’t, understand. What’s mysterious, ambiguous, inexplicable. What doesn’t fit into a story, what doesn’t have a story….

Because--what if that particular goldfinch (and it is very particular) had never been captured or bor
Rick Riordan
Adult contemporary fiction. The Goldfinch was the book to read last year, so I didn't read it. Happily I corrected that over the last few weeks! It's the story of young Theo whose mother dies in a terrorist explosion at the Metropolitan Museum in New York. In the ensuing chaos, Theo escapes with his mother's favorite painting, The Goldfinch, a priceless Dutch masterpiece that becomes Theo's secret treasure and also the albatross around his neck. The story follows Theo into adulthood, through a s ...more
Donna Tartt's latest novel has left this reader relatively unimpressed, especially considering the fact that she's author of The Secret History - a successful and popular novel which resulted in an entire generation of books which tried to be like it - and has reportedly spent 10 years writing The Goldfinch, which could very well be true, since she has written exactly three books in three decades. Understandably, her new novel became the object of much anticipation and when it was finally releas ...more
Winner of the 2014 Pulitzer Prize for Fiction. Congratulations, Ms. Tartt on such a stunning return.

The Goldfinch is a doorstopper, weighing in at over 700 densely written pages. Yet, I found myself tearing through it as if I couldn't read it fast enough. I don't know what the secret is to Ms. Tartt's prose, but I dig it. I dig it a lot. Maybe it's due to sheer deprivation (absence making the heart grow fonder and all that jazz), because this lady, while her talent goes undisputed, has only mana
Jeanette  "Astute Crabbist"
1.5 stars

The Mysterious Case of the Shrinking Rating

Oh, kiddies. I don't know where to start in describing my experience of this enormous hunk of enormousness. I came within less than 200 pages of finishing it, but I cannot go on.

A brief (and crabby) synopsis of my experience with this book:

First 200 pages = This is outrageously excellent! Five stars for sure.

Next 200 pages = Getting really sick of Theo and Boris and substance abuse. Four stars, but only if it improves soon.

Next 170+ pages =

"We have art in order not to die from the truth."

There are books inside which I have wanted to live. "The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier & Clay". "The Alexandria Quartet". "The Great Gatsby". "Under The Volcano". "Dalva". "The Adventures of Augie March". "Belle du Seigneur".
There are characters who are more real to me than many real-life people. Josef Kavalier. Jay Gatsby. Isabel Archer. Frank Bascombe. Tereza. Geoffrey Firmin. Jane Eyre.
They live and speak and go on existing in
MJ Nicholls
Feb 20, 2014 MJ Nicholls marked it as getting-even
Recommended to MJ by: Nathan "N.R." Gaddis
“Pithy and irrelevant quote from philosopher to make this review sound important.” — Bobby McFerrin

Long out-of-context passage from the novel in italics unrelated to the stuff I am about to discuss in the review that sort of hangs there seeking an explanation and that also sounds somewhat profound and rubs off some cred on me for picking out such a seemingly perfect and deep-sounding line to whet your appetite even though you have probably skimmed the whole thing because you fail to see the rele
I’m told that mine is the deciding vote to establish this book’s place in history: masterpiece or meh. Well, I’ve given myself a week to think about it, and the fact that I did think about it skews it to the positive. But then the equivocator in me recognizes that controversial books often have strong pluses and minuses to consider. Here are the factors as I see them.

A compelling plot. Plenty happens to make this more than just navel fixation. Thirteen-year-old New York City kid, Theo, had one g
The first 600 pages of this book are a gripping read. Tartt creates sympathetic protagonists that you want to root for and fast-paced adventures and predicaments in which you want to see them succeed.

Tartt owes a great debt to Dickens in the story's plot, characters, and pathos. Theo Decker is shockingly and suddenly orphaned one ordinary day after a bomb rips through the Metropolitan Museum and his mother perishes while admiring her favorite paintings. Of course, she was beautiful, smart, and p
2.5 Stars

Goldfinch by Donna Tartt is one of those books that not only are you investing your hard earned money in you are investing a huge amount of reading time as this novel has just under 790 pages.

I rarely read novels that are more than 600 pages and if I do they really need to hold my interest and I have to be honest Goldfinch was a very long drawn out novel and the plot failed to impress me although I did finish the book but this was more out of my ability to stick with it than any great
Lynne King
And my final reading disaster of the year…

This is a veritable tome comprising 771 pages. The book looked the part. The story appeared to be very interesting about Theo Decker, who has loved and lost, who enters the criminal underworld, an individual who finally makes a marvellous discovery in life and then, of course, there is his talisman, the painting of “The Goldfinch". I also love Goldfinches and often photograph them in the garden if I can be in the right place with the camera at the right
There are so many beautiful, perfect sentences in this book, my heart hurts.

Donna Tartt knows a lot about so many things: art, furniture, grief, pills, Maltese dogs, Amsterdam, New York, the outskirts of Vegas, rich WASPS in New York. Damn, girl, you are a BRAIN.

The middle of this book dragged for me unexpectedly, but I am going to blame the stomach flu I got slammed with, and not this novel, which is otherwise engrossing and moving. The first 300 pages swallowed my whole life, and the ending wa
An ardent disliker of The Secret History I was intrigued by the reviews of Tartt's third novel and decided to try again. "Dickensian," said NPR, "Dickensian," said the New York Times, as if two orphans and an olde curiosity shoppe plus swarthier ne'er-do-well orphan who appears in 2nd book/act, reappears in 4th book/act equals Dickens. Like calling that baton you buy in the grocery store a baguette. While it has certainly been a page turner there are still so many things that are irksome.

1. The
"There's no 'rational grounds' for anything I care about."

This is turning into the summer where I read much anticipated forthcoming novels, but which I'm slightly undeserving to read since I haven't read the author's previous novel. There are probably a lot more deserving people out there for these books. But that's the benefit of being Karen's best friend, and she does get it right most of the time (view spoiler)
"Caring too much for objects can destroy you. Only - if you care for a thing enough, it takes on a life of its own, doesn't it? And isn't the whole point of things - beautiful things - that they connect you to some larger beauty? Those first images that crack your heart wide open and you spend the rest of your life chasing, or trying to recapture, in one way or another? ...You see one painting, I see another, the art book puts it at another remove still, the lady buying the greeting card at the ...more

3 "up and down like a toilet seat in a mixed gender dormitory bathroom" stars.

At 300 pages this book could have been a minor masterpiece.
At 400 pages the book could have been excellent.
Even at 500 pages the book had a likely chance of being very good.

But at an astonishing 718 pages the book was overconfident in its own beauty, wisdom and dare I say its worthwhileness.

I had four different experiences of reading this book:

15% of it was absolutely sublime, profound, beautiful, profoundly beautifuly
Whaaaaat? Am I reading a different book from all of you people giving this five stars? I am halfway through this pretentious, nonsensical, self-indulgent, ridiculous THING, and I'm only forcing myself to finish because I paid $40 for this monstrosity. It is unconvincing on so many levels. Theo Decker does not ring true. He doesn't SOUND like a boy, for a start, and I'm hard-pressed to believe a thirteen-year old reads and understands the likes of Chekov, Thoreau and Emmerson. And why doesn't The ...more
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Anyone else love this book, but hate the ending? 51 1334 1 hour, 20 min ago  
Glaring factual errors (vague spoilers) 141 1249 Nov 20, 2015 08:08AM  
What year is it? Why the inconsistencies? 97 1427 Nov 17, 2015 02:29AM  
IAU Novel 2 30 Nov 03, 2015 08:23AM  
Novel Books & Rea...: Tartt, Donna - The Goldfinch - Informal Buddy Read; Start November ??, 2015 6 115 Oct 30, 2015 08:09PM  
  • A Constellation of Vital Phenomena
  • The Store
  • The Edge of Sadness
  • Dept. of Speculation
  • A Tale for the Time Being
  • Journey in the Dark
  • At Night We Walk in Circles
  • Duplex
  • Burial Rites
  • A Marker to Measure Drift
  • Flight Behavior
  • The Antagonist
  • The Luminaries
  • Someone
  • My Education
  • TransAtlantic
  • Nothing Gold Can Stay
  • The Round House
Donna Tartt (born 23 December 1963) is an American writer who received critical acclaim for her first two novels, The Secret History (1992) and The Little Friend (2002). Tartt was the 2003 winner of the WH Smith Literary Award for The Little Friend.

The daughter of Don and Taylor Tartt, she was born in Greenwood, Mississippi but raised 32 miles away in Grenada, Mississippi. At age five, she wrote h
More about Donna Tartt...

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“Caring too much for objects can destroy you. Only—if you care for a thing enough, it takes on a life of its own, doesn’t it? And isn’t the whole point of things—beautiful things—that they connect you to some larger beauty?” 482 likes
“A great sorrow, and one that I am only beginning to understand: we don’t get to choose our own hearts. We can’t make ourselves want what’s good for us or what’s good for other people. We don’t get to choose the people we are.” 353 likes
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