Stephanie Dreyer

I'm 75% of the way through this book and am really struggling with it. I'm finding it incredibly drawn out for little reward - is it worth finishing?

To answer questions about The Goldfinch, please sign up.
Bob Cowling
This answer contains spoilers… (view spoiler)
Felix Schweizer I am at the very same point. Loved it in the beginning but it makes me frustrated. In every page, almost in every paragraph, Theo makes another stupid choice or is dealt another devastating blow. Where is the fun in that? I don't need hundreds of pages to know that the world is unfair. The beauty of the language makes up for some of this, but it would have been a more powerful book at 1/3 the length!
George Kouri Quitting before the end would be such a shame. Sometimes we struggle and sometimes we succeed. The Goldfinch is such a masterpiece that you will never regret finishing it. The Pulitzer committee may be book snobs but they are usually in touch with excellent works. One of my all time favorites.
Paul Cowling There's an incredible 400 page masterpiece somewhere in this 770 page novel. Like many here I devoured the first half of the book, but when it returns to NYC it (and I) hit a wall. Took me forever to finish and I stubbornly didn't want the book to beat me. And I agree with the other Cowling here (!) about the last philosophizing coda. The Secret History is still Tartt's masterpiece, imo.
Raegan Teller I've decided I have no appreciation for bestsellers. I tried to read this book and didn't like it. Then I tried "The Girl on the Train" and didn't like it either.
Jeanne My thought is Tartt wrote "The Goldfinch," as an exercise in anxiety and tension. I am on edge reading and begging this cluster f#@$ to end like a Dickens novel with Theo becoming the man his mother was molding and not the loser his father was. However, Donna Tartt is not writing that book and I'm unconventional enough to be glad it's not all resolved and a "happy ever after" ending. Author Tartt is an amazingly talented writer. Every literary element; settings, characters and dialog is honest, purposeful and true.
Melissa According to my Kindle I'm 43% of the way through the novel. Tartt writes well and has a keen eye for detail. But, the book, at least so far, has read like two completely separate novels. The first third was wonderful in New York, but Las Vegas has been insufferable. If the point of Tartt's book is to illustrate the randomness of life and its traumas, as well as the necessity to meditate upon the beauty of what we do have before us in spite of gilded cages, do I really need to finish the text?
Lynn Rudolph The reward? The reward is in every paragraph and the anticipation of the next event.
I will say after reading the comments....if you have started it and are disappointed already then don't finish it because it's not a book for you.
Jodi I'm struggling too. It's very well written, but it's one crappy thing after another and the poor guy can't get a break. No comic relief, very few brights spots; it's depressing me. Does it end well at least? I've read books with characters that struggle, but there always seemed to be some hope even in the middle of it all. I'm finding no hope. Should I finish, or will I close the book and wish I'd never picked it up?
Damien Roberts I think a lot of the turn off is the length of the chapters. 100+ pages in a single chapter (especially if, like me, you like to read a full chapter in one sitting) can be incredibly tiring. That said, after finishing the novel I can now say that I have a new favorite. The last portion of the book is extremely fast paced and well done.
Angie ColourMeBlessed For me it started getting good around 500 pages in. It remained gripping and fast paced until about the last 20 pages which were tedious.
Sam Jones You gotta finish it, Steph! You're almost there! Even if it is crap. :)
Cathy Sargent The audio version has made this book come alive for me. I get so much more out of hearing while I am walking on the beach or sitting in traffic. Therefore finishing to me...is just making sure that I have not lost all of the 26 CD's. At one point, I panicked when I couldn't find CD 20 and 21. I couldn't believe that Theo was a black out drunk! The narrator made him sound like a character that you could believe in. I also was laughing in parts with Andy as his voice made him sound like a loveable, neuro untypical aspie. (autistic spectrum asperger syndrome)
Kathy I struggled also and finished it but made me think that's a lot of reading I will never get back. I didn't like it. Depressing and much longer than it should have been. Author IS a brilliant wordsmith, descriptions and scenery are a delight but such a relentless sad story of defeat.
Kimberly Van I am at 76% and put it down yesterday. I just can't stand the book anymore! I loved the first half, basically devoured it, until Theo reconnected with the Barbours. Yes we get it, Theo keeps making the same mistakes. I didn't need the reconnection with Kitsey or Platt or whoever. I would have liked to seen Theo DO something instead of just running away from everything all the time. It's just frustrating and at this point I am just going to move on with my life and start reading something else.
Rad Yes it is drawn out. I am enjoying the writing. I am able to be drawn into the world of this young boy. I relate to his loneliness and his reactions to not having strong parental guidance or family support at this tender age. He makes bad decisions because he is trying to run away from his pain. I am enjoying the slow long journey. I want to keep reading to see how he deals with the pain and disappointments of real life.
Marika P. Elliott At 67 percent I asked myself the same question. The book seemed to be the story of a young boy with too many bad breaks, turned drug addict, however, the thread that kept me going was the painting. The defeatist attitude toward life and the lack of any good decisions, all soured my outlook on the book. I too think the author could have kept a lot of her pontificating to her journal and moved a little faster through the plot before boring us to death and making us wish for a quicker resolution. I kept checking to see how many more pages I had left to read as the story grew tiresome. Finally, I skipped two or three chapters and never noticed the drop. Don’t doubt it was award worthy but length doesn’t equal quality. 6;000 pages to tell us life sucks but find those vocal specks of joy and beauty in the dead space. COVID has taught us well enough.
Rhonda D. Nope. My entire book group hated it (the only universally hated one ever).
K Fedrick Absolutely not.
Kit Sheffield I was wondering the same thing at 75% (and at 50% and 25%). For me it did not get any better. A rare book that not only did I not enjoy, but I could not imagine what enjoyment anyone would get from it.
Nick Mueller Not if you're looking for a satisfying ending
Chris Scheel Thank goodness I found your question! I feel like I have found my people, lol. I am to the "throwing the book" stage which ironically isn't possible because I am listening to the audio version.
Olivia Morgan The writer is without doubt talented. And overall, this book is chocked full of wonderful writing and descriptions of her character's. However, it is so slow and heavy, like winter sap being drawn out of beautiful things, that you wonder if you will get around to enjoying the fruits of your labor. At over 700 pages, it is a nod to Tolstoy in either Anna Karenina or a light War and Peace. Her insistent copying of Dickens is over played as well, Pip is Pippa; The annoying waxing and waning romantic obsession quite like that of Great Expectations. And there are way too many other references as well, in my own opinion, it is one thing to admire and pay respect to your favorite classic writer, it is quite another to borrow so many names or concepts that the author losses her own voice and water downs the uniqueness of her own novel.

Sadly, I also felt like she over described every minute detail, literally leaving very little to the readers imagination or speculation. Where is the fun in that? Books are supposed to provide character development, not neurosis. A healthy revision would streamline the overall flow, at most, 400 max pages, with several changed names and less Dickens would be an outstanding 5-star book.
Jennifer I do agree with others here that the parts related to his drug and alcohol abuse and parental neglect were difficult to get through. However, I also felt that the book was about Theo constantly thinking, "if this happens, I will be happy" and keeps postponing happiness. I think that this is universal in a lot of ways in the human experience. At some point, you need to come to terms with the question of whether you find happiness in the life you have or are constantly unhappy because for whatever reason you can't achieve those goals you have set for yourself. I am glad that I continued to read through those dark parts, because that is a life, good and bad.
Jan Wilkes I was regretting ever starting the darned thing for a good part of the book, but I stuck it out and I'm so glad I did.
In retrospect, many weeks after having finished The Goldfinch, I can't stop thinking about it. it is one of those books that sticks with you. I watched the movie The Goldfinch on Amazon Prime, and although they have played around with the timeline a little bit, and eliminated some of the content, the basic premise and story remain the same. I loved the movie. The hauntingly beautiful soundtrack is worth a listen, even if you didn't like the book. Listen at the beginning for the beautiful birdcall, and the deep, underlying vibrating tone that run throughout the soundtrack. Those two elements recur again and again in the different tracks, and for me bring to mind the beauty and pathos of the painting of a chained bird who sings anyway, and the tension, love and guilt Theo feels about this painting, which perhaps, in a sense, has become entwined with his mother's memory. Masterful composition by Trevor Gureckis.
Naruto Mania I must concur completely with what Bob Cowling had to say in answer to your question. After p. 650, or so, I ended up skimming quite a bit of the mini-chapters in an effort to surf overtop of the story and just follow the main plot. I didn't really want to read one more drug-induced or fever-riddled description of Theo's thoughts and regrets and many bad decisions.
Pat Kennedy I agree with Bob Cowling's answer. The book was not worth finishing except for the gorgeous sentences and imagery. But Theo continues to not make much emotional advancement which is quite frustrating.
Cristina Only a few pages in and I can't. I know I'm supposed to think the writing is brilliant, but I don't see that. I find the characters not plausible. The mother who has passion for art, is not talking about art with her son but lecturing like a professor, then after the "event" at the museum, it seems to me his reaction is not natural. I found the writing more tedious than brilliant.
Tom I'm with you, Stephanie. I am at about 80% and find it getting a bit tedious. I would love to be a fly on the wall in the office with Tartt and her editor. "Couldn't we trim some of the over-the-top extended neurosis sequences, Donna?" "Hey, I won the WH Smith Literary Award so don't tell me what to do!" I will admit that I am now curious about the movie. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IcG06...
Donald Schopflocher Don’t you want to know if Theo hooks up with Pippa? Or maybe Boris?
Alper Çuğun If you've made it to 75%, you might as well finish it. It would have been better to quit way earlier than that.
Susan I soldiered through to the end, but I'm not sure whether that was perseverance or the "sunk cost" fallacy (as in, I've invested this much time, let's see how it turns out). I didn't even like the characters. The narrator is so passive that he might as well be an invertebrate. A delirious man tells him to "rescue" a painting? It never occurs to him that he's stealing. A messed up friend says "Let's do LSD/Cocaine/pills/ shots of vodka/glue," he says "uh, sure." His whole life is pretty much like that. Yes, I'm sorry for him -- mother dead, father a no-good drunken crook -- but except for running away from Las Vegas to get away from his even more messed up stepmother, and taking her little dog to save it from death by neglect (while also liberating her cash, jewelry and drugs), he never does anything but drift along with the flow.
Maggie Do not finish this book. It's definitely not worth it. The story is puffed up far beyond what the plot needed and the main character is worthless trash--unlucky at times, sure, but he could do anything and does nothing. The writing is gorgeous, yes, but the author is in love with squalor and laziness and stupidity and waste. And especially vomit. Lord, does she ever love vomit. I don't see the appeal at all. Save yourself!
Reinhard Skandera Yes, is hard work to finish it, but worth. Personally, I hate drugs. But imagining to loose the mother with 13 years, let understanding increase. Tartt remembers me a little to Faulkner. For example Absalom, Absalom. First 100 pages very hard work, but finishing gives you a good feeling.
Linda I am only on chapter 2 and have already discovered that this book is long drawn out.... So much of chapter 1 could have been told so much quicker!
Terri Nakamura Hi, Stephanie. I loved the book and eventually read it twice. Imagine this: the first time I read it on my teeny tiny iPhone 6. I'm curious to know if you ended up finishing it?
Ashley Rios It took me a few months to finish it because Theo keeps make not-very-smart decisions and it would irritate me. The only reason why I finished it was because of the narrator (I listened to the audiobook), David Pittu, and he was just fabulous. I think if I had to read it, instead of listening to it, I would have quit half way through it, maybe even less.
mrs s johnston Like a lot of readers I started the book with great enthusiasm but gradually became disillusioned. I found it became utterly tedious and towards the end just skipped passages to finish. It was unbelievable and found Theo so irritating in his choices. Potentially it was a fantastic story that could have benefited by being reduced by 50%. However I think the writing was great which was what kept me going to the end!
Phyllis Millan I agree with Cowling. Yep the language is amazing; I would know these characters if they walked up to me. But, hey life is unfair; stop doing stupid things. If you really want to be self- destructive, try harder. It's not this point that gets tiresome (well maybe a little); but jeez you've proved it stop writing.
Heidi I just finished reading the ending again to see if I could find any redemption in it. I could not. I'm with Kimberly Van - He is just continuing to run away from his pain and will never progress past it. I don't think he wants to. I do agree that the writing is compelling in places but in others it is painful and drawn out. I am going to try to watch the movie and see if I can like it to a '4 star' again.
Penny Fay Just read the last page.
Trudie I'm in the same position. Glad to read the comments!
Image for The Goldfinch
Rate this book
Clear rating

About Goodreads Q&A

Ask and answer questions about books!

You can pose questions to the Goodreads community with Reader Q&A, or ask your favorite author a question with Ask the Author.

See Featured Authors Answering Questions

Learn more