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The Goldfinch

3.90  ·  Rating details ·  563,462 ratings  ·  49,999 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
Kindle Edition, 774 pages
Published October 22nd 2013 by Little, Brown and Company (first published September 23rd 2013)
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Todd Abused orphans; see also: the ineptitude of civil servants. Attention to class/social status. Exaggerated characters. Wordiness. Similarities to…moreAbused orphans; see also: the ineptitude of civil servants. Attention to class/social status. Exaggerated characters. Wordiness. Similarities to actual Dickens characters, and even at least one recycled name (Pip sound familiar to anyone?). Unrequited Love That Will Not Die or Even Diminish. Ever. A shambling plot that spans a lot of time. Repeated use of the word Bailiwick.(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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3.90  · 
Rating details
 ·  563,462 ratings  ·  49,999 reviews

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Mar 22, 2013 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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
Jul 13, 2013 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: modern-fiction, angst, art
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
Dec 08, 2013 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fiction
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
Nov 09, 2013 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
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
Alan Wolk
Nov 11, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
Jan 26, 2014 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
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
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.
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
Gene Schmidt
Nov 19, 2013 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
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
Mar 22, 2013 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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
Jeffrey Keeten
Dec 04, 2013 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
***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
Feb 12, 2015 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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
Aug 24, 2013 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fav-fic, literature
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. Life is full of struggle but the beauty we encounter during it might be what makes it 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 it all as detailed as possible because even the
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 =
Raeleen Lemay
Mar 04, 2014 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Raeleen by: Maxwell
I finished it.

And it was awesome.

(Review to come)
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
Michael Finocchiaro
This was an exciting book and despite being nearly 900 pages long, was quite a page-turner. The characters were all drawn realistically and with all their flaws (with the possible exception of Hobie who was a lovable sweetheart!) The protagonist, Theo is also our narrator and is fairly reliable as he doesn't hold anything back - even his own many faults. The external narrative is on the fate of the painting The Goldfinch by Fabritius (about which we learn its own turbulent history and extreme ge ...more
Barry Pierce
Donna Tartt is one of America’s greatest living male writers. She has taken a form of novel - the doorstopper, the tome, the phonebook - and taken something away from it that is has often never been without: the penis. In this ritual castration of the ‘opus’ Tartt has managed to completely free it from all its ills. DeLillo, Franzen, Foster Wallace, Pynchon, Mailer, all kneel there, bloodied and shorn like Goya etchings, John Bobbitts by any other name, weak and utterly defeated. Whilst Donna, l ...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
MJ Nicholls
Feb 20, 2014 marked it as getting-even  ·  review of another edition
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
Jul 26, 2013 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition

"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
Feb 19, 2014 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
Charlotte May
So, I did it! I read all 864 pages of this book! And it was so dark!
At times I needed to take a break, because it was just so heavy (both physically and metaphorically) some of the themes and thoughts the main character had were so awful, I was feeling depressed just to read it!

“Even the sidewalk felt like it might break under my feet and I might drop through Fifty-Seventh Street into some pit where I never stopped falling.”

Not that it was all bad, there was plenty that wasn’t as dark. But th
Oct 07, 2014 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Only a reader not familiar with Dickens, especially "Great Expectations," will find the book amusing, even good.

But while the conventions are indeed laudable, I cannot help but find the ultra-cool character of Boris an avatar of Fagan; the tale of two cities revamped into a dull threesome of perhaps the three most exciting cities--NYC, Vegas, Amsterdam; the teenage dawdling akin to Oliver Twist's-- they are, ultimately, safe & unoriginal. Where's the innovation, 2014's Oracle? This is a marb
Jan 21, 2014 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
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

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

2015 Book Where I Wished I Was Editor

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, pro
Nov 15, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
Jun 26, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
One point docked for a less than stellar pace of the last third. Otherwise it's a feast for the eyes and a delight for the senses.

The Goldfinch is about maturity and picking up the pieces when life lets you down. Going on with your life when the portal to hell is opened, is a daunting task.

Theo, the hero of this book (kinda), is traveling away from his demons, trying to cobble together enough positive images to keep his sanity intact. He is stabbed, sometimes in the back.

In the end I would recom
Nov 17, 2013 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
Elyse Walters
Aug 21, 2013 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
AMAZING!!! My personal FAVORITE book of the year!!!

The story was delicious! The writing WONDERFUL!

I've picked some of Donna Tartt's writing to share that I deeply enjoyed:

1) On page 335: "We looked at each other and just laughed; everything was hysterically funny, even the playground slide was smiling at us, and at some point, deep in the night, when we were swinging on the jungle gym and showers of sparks were flying out of our mouths, I had an epiphany that laughter was light, and light was
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Donna Tartt is an American writer who received critical acclaim for her first two novels, The Secret History and The Little Friend, which have been translated into thirty languages. Tartt was the 2003 winner of the WH Smith Literary Award for The Little Friend. Her novel The Goldfinch won the Pulitzer Prize in 2014.

The daughter of Don and Taylor Tartt, she was born in Greenwood, Mississippi but r
“I had the epiphany that laughter was light, and light was laughter, and that this was the secret of the universe.” 1764 likes
“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?” 831 likes
More quotes…