The Goldfinch The Goldfinch question

Did you like this book???
Karol Karol Apr 30, 2014 02:17PM
I finally finished this book, had to make myself. Good story only I think the book could have been maybe 250 pages instead of 771. This author just wouldn't stop with rambling on things that didn't pertain to the story, paragraphs that were entire pages long. Way too "wordy".

This seems to be one of those love it or hate it book. I loved it. I found both Theo (Potter) and Boris likeable. They were just human, just boys and young men making the best of it under crappy circumstances.

And I think Theo did evolve. He understood in the end that he couldn't take shortcuts and redeemed himself with Weldy. He made peace with with his friend's family and realized that he wasn't going to have a "normal" life. He also didn't allow himself to be used by his fiance as a cover to her bad romance. There is no normal, and it's okay.

He also learned to communicate better with Weldy and with Boris. He looked after his friend's mother better than her children did. He made peace with his life and his trauma, and carried on the best he could.

And as I go on and on (talk about wordy!) I have to say I love when an author uses language this way, to describe and explain a story. It's terribly 19th century, I know, but it works for me. Luckily, there's all kinds of books for all kinds of people.

F 25x33
Robin So wonderfully wordy, let her roll with the words. She has a gift with them and I for one love to hear her ramble on. Ii could listen to her describe ...more
Dec 17, 2015 04:50AM

Wanted to love it. Eloquent writing isn't a deal breaker for me, but in this case, the strings of metaphors had me ready to tear my hair out by the roots, the way a farmer tears out weeds, the way a surgeon plucks out a tumor, the way a robin plucks a worm out of a half rotten apple - the last to fall on a bright, clear autumn morning full of the promise of winter and the delightful cleansing of snow and death. Also, the end left me cold - didn't find it eloquent at all, just dismal and depressing. Nothing changed for him - no real redemption at all. Just more of Theo faking it and it really bothered me that there was no resolution with Reeves. Just glad to be done with this behemoth of over abundant, self indulgent writing.

I definitely loved it! It really held my interest. Might I add, I am only in eighth grade.

I feel sorry for readers who couldn't read this remarkable work of literature because of drugs, alcohol, and /or criminal activity. Such people and events do exist in this world. Perhaps these readers ought to just stick to Disneyfied tales of shiny happy people, aliens, and otherworldly creatures. Enjoy yourselves.

HATED this book. Loved some parts of it, particularly the beginning. Hated much of the Las Vegas section, definitely felt that was too long-wordy without moving the story forward enough. No. Argument on character development. Just, overall, didn't care after a while what happened to the characters.

I would like to know why the critics liked this book. What was the moment, or who was the character that provided any redemption.?Was the hopelessness something was supposed to speak yo us.? Or do they judge books by how much they weigh?

I dont think I would have made it through this book either without the audiobook(Immersion reading)
The audiobook was SO Great with the narrator changing accents flawlessly and making it a "fun" read!!

Loved it! I did not find it "wordy". I found it well-written and enjoyed the descriptiveness (is that a word?) The characters rang true to life, especially Boris.

I really loved the book, the characters in the book, the stories and much more. I was actually sad when it was over. She's an incredible writer in my opinion.

I thought the protagonist matured a lot throughout the duration of the book. He did well considering his father was his role model and he lost his mother at such a young age and in such a tragic way.

His decisions were far from perfect but then life is never perfect. He seemed to learn from his mistakes and keep going. Even when he was about to give up, he never did. He kept plugging along.

I loved this book. Loved the detailed descriptions of events and places. Loved the character development.

I really wanted to like this book, I loved her other books and had expected this to keep me hooked as the others had. I actually stopped reading it after a while but have kept it in case I decide to try again one day!

This book could have used one more revision by the author, reducing the over-long side episodes in Theo's life that seemed to detract from story-telling. Mostly, however, my criticism is that Theo remained an adolescent through to the end. He never seemed other than he was at the beginning--going through a youthful crush with Pippa, his subservience to Boris. I wanted to experience growth and change in this character; he never seemed to be other than 14, no matter how much alcohol he consumed.

For literary fiction it was perfect, paragraph long sentences, clause after clause, divergence into unnecessary details and very slow dialogue. Remove half of the wordiness and I'd be happy. Not my cup of tea, but well executed.

I didn't love this book. She is so clearly influenced by Dickens--David Copperfield, Pip--and the sorts of characters he created that I would much rather read Dickens. It was okay as an updated orphan story, but deserving of all the prizes and accolades? I don't think so. And it could have been 200 pages shorter.

Truly? No. The characters seemed adolescent at best--never maturing, never growing in insight or self-awareness. No amount of intrigue into which the author placed them could serve to make them interesting. It was a slog to finish it, and I did, because I kept looking for the redeeming quality of this acclaimed book. I concluded we were had.

Joanne Amen !
Dec 10, 2015 08:36AM


I loved this book. I found it to be almost compulsively readable, and even though it has been months since I read it, I still think about the characters often. I would agree that the end was a bit bombastic, but that all things considered, this was a very minor flaw.

I am so gratified that I am not the only one who just couldn't find anything redeeming in this book. Theo had an incredible mother - and what does he do with his life to make her proud?? He scams people and lives a life of self-absorption. Yeah , I get it. He has been in love with Pippa all this time and it just didn't work out. Well, sorry but that's life. He used every person who truly loved him. If I were his mother I would cry in my grave.

Yes, I liked it very much indeed. There were a few spots in the later part of the book when I thought "ok, this is going on too long" but that was ME, not the writer. She did a beautiful job -- the boys grew and changed, and were tragic and loveable and funny and infuriating and I could go on and on.
I thought of Dickens more than once. I have recommended this to all of my friends, as a friend recommended it to me when I was a bit reluctant to take on 700 pps. If that is you, give it a try. You may well be enchanted.

I 100% agree with you Karol - the story was alright and I would've probably liked the book it it was cut in half. There was absolutely no need for 771 pages! Some pages I actually just skimmed through rather than reading word to word!

Linda (last edited Jun 26, 2014 08:46AM ) Jun 25, 2014 10:31AM   0 votes
I loved the book and was totally engrossed in the story. Claire expressed it best when she said Theo survived a catastrophe event, and he tried to piece his life back together, making many mistakes along the way. I related to him, his loss, and his search for The Goldfinch, the strong connection to his past and unbroken life. I found some of the writing laborious, but the story was moving. Theo makes amends and knows he has to keep moving forward, recognizing we all live imperfect lives but hold on to our joyous memories. The author tells us "that life-whatever else it is-is short.....immerse ourselves anyway; wade straight through it, right through the cesspool, while keeping eyes and hearts open." I believe Theo did that.

I loved the premise, but the book annoyed me. The protagonist, who admittedly suffered from PTSD was a loser. The only person in the book with any chutzpah was Boris, and he wasn't really a likeable person. The book was way too long. No one in the book changed, no one succeeded or was defeated. I'm beginning to have my doubts about the people who award prizes to book.

Karol wrote: "I finally finished this book, had to make myself. Good story only I think the book could have been maybe 250 pages instead of 771. This author just wouldn't stop with rambling on things that didn..."

I personally loved it. Read it in about 6 days, all between Christmas and New Year.
Could relate to Theo's depression. Thought Boris highly entertaining and really enjoyed his and Theo's friendship develop in Las Vegas.
Found the part when Boris was going to get the painting back extremely gripping.
Only criticism is that the author became very heavy and philosophical with Theo's character towards the end.

Like you Nadine, I loved the language. To me, it's part of what made the book. Guess I'm just stuck in the 19th century: language is part of the appeal of historical fiction!


I have started the book but can't get beyond the first 5 chapters. I keep trying and friends who I've loaned the book to have loved it. I just can't get into it.

I'm torn about my feelings for this book. On the one hand, I would never finish a book this long if I didn't like it to some extent. I'm known for stopping a novel ten pages in because I get a feeling I'm going to hate it or just know by the style of writing that I wont finish.

That being said, 776 pages later, I'm not sure I would recommend this book to others. I'm a fan of the bildungsroman theme, I don't mind the Dickensian orphan plot, it's a fresh version of an outdated trope.

The ending though... THE ENDING.... Why on earth did she have to end the novel with Theo and Boris literally in a global art theft? It seemed so outlandish, completely unrealistic and unnecessary. No one grew from their experiences in Amsterdam, it felt like a cheap trick thrown into the novel to appease a different demographic of reader than those that might otherwise want to read this story. I'm all about having some suspense or some plot dynamic but this just felt too heavy-handed.

I did rate the book 4 stars, so overall, I did enjoy the book and Tartt is an incredible writer, no one can fault her for her prose, but the narrative seemed to become diluted towards the end with the grandiose theft.

Mayor (last edited Jan 19, 2015 07:58AM ) Jan 09, 2015 08:20AM   0 votes
Bloated, repetitive, gratuitous, self-indulgent, arrogant, meaningless. Tartt plugs in words from her thesaurus without regard for whether they add dimension to characters or plot. She uses her furniture and Dutch vocab like a hammer to remind the reader of her new fancy words, like that one annoying person at the party who knows more about wine than you, has traveled more than you, has a nicer car than you, went to a better lib ed school than you, and so on. This reads like a community workshop novel where dozens of people each contribute a few sentences and then glue them together at the end. A giant boo to Tartt and everyone else who contributed to this drowned corpse of a novel.

I liked the book until the end..the end was disappointing.

When a novel is this good, I don't worry about how many pages I have to turn or, in the case of a noticeably short book, don't have to turn. What fascinated me was the surreptitious methods Tartt used to develop quite a bit of suspense and maintain my desire to turn those pages.

I was unable to into the story while reading on my Kindle, so I switched to listening to the audio book. I loved the story line but while reading I was distracted by the wordiness of it all. While listening I actually loved the detail and was sad when the story ended.

I loved it; nuanced characters, an involved story, and strong themes which ran throughout the entire narrative.

I loved the ending. It brought together a number of themes and ideas which cycled throughout the book.

If you aren't enjoying it, slow down! Think about what your reading and compare it to the Classics. Tartt is a very literary writer. I don't know if I'd enjoy this book as much as I did if I didn't have a broader awareness of literature.

De gustibus non disputatem est. I liked the first third of the book and then it started to sound like the author was being paid by the ounce. By the end I was mad at myself for my habit of finishing even bad books.


I was totally engrossed in The Goldfinch for the first third of the novel. I loved the setting, the Metropolitan Museum of Art and NYC. The plot was creative and the characters, well developed. It was exciting and addictive!

Then I read about Las Vegas, the new setting and the alcoholic father, the low life girlfriend, and the Polish friend who constantly drank beer. It was boring. I had to stop reading at 33%. Life is too short to continue a read that doesn't hold my interest.

Susan Bernhardt

"The Goldfinch" had some lovely writing and imagery, and at times the story was very, very engaging. But as several others have complained, it is undisciplined, meandering, and far too long. I also got very weary of some of the characters' moral paralysis.

HATED IT. It's endlessly repetitious, humorless, male-centric. Hate all the characters. (the women are mere sketches). I've made a vow I'll never read anything by Donna Tartt again.

I have read the book twice and the experience was like enrolling in a MFW course. Our book club agreed that they would have asked the editor to shorten the section that takes place in Las Vegas. Then I read her other two books as well. Not sure I'll be around in ten years when we could expect the next one, but Donna Tartt's work is an experience of writing at its best.

I loved the book all the way to the end when theo goes on and on about life and the meaning of it and the decisions we make. I didn't feel it was very conclusive to the entire story ..... I finished and was a bit disappointed... All this build up and then.... But up until that point I couldn't put it down.

It was an excellent book, although I agree that it was too long. I've never met a novel that could not have been done in about 350 pages.

It's amazing that people can look beautiful and live forever when their world crumbles around them and they eat the foundation that supports them. But that is what reading (and writing) a novel is all about.

No. It must have been well written because I had a clear picture of the characters and their world. But I certainly don't want to know those people or inhabit their world.


Good premise - but WAY too long!

This book needs a good, honest editor. It has its strengths, mainly that the author helped me care about several of the characters. However, its length lends nothing to the book, only detracts and detracts mightily. I actually felt so bogged down that I skipped about 200 pages -- and when I then started again felt I'd missed nothing in either character development or important story line. It seems like everyone got tired at the end of writing and editing this work and didn't make that last effort of good editing.

Karol wrote: "I finally finished this book, had to make myself. Good story only I think the book could have been maybe 250 pages instead of 771. This author just wouldn't stop with rambling on things that didn..."

Exactly, we'll said. Did it win a Pulitizer?

I thought the book started great and it was downhill from there. The protagonist was so unlikable I just could not enjoy the book.

I was annoyed that throughout the majority of the book he wouldn't open up to anyone about the painting. Kind of like a bad sitcom episode where there is a big misunderstanding and all that has to happen is for the main character to explain himself to end the confusion, which didn't happen until the very end in the book. I liked how the end came together about the painting. I was pleasantly surprised. But it sucked that the story with Pippa fizzled out. I also expected something more to happen with Lucius Reeve. Unless I missed something, all he really did was force Theo to finally talk to Hobie which I was waiting forever for him to do and also to come clean with his customers. A little strange that the bad guy in this story forces the good guy to be honest.

She is a talented writer, and you could have seen that in a 300 pg book. As many of you mentioned, I felt the NY ramblings were captivating. I loved her descriptions of NYC little scenes that would go unnoticed for many passer-by. However, all of this book's magic ends up disappearing through the high excessive self pity of the main character, the feeling of reading the same drug scene all over again and again. In addition, I felt the camaraderie between Boris and Theo remains unexplained, remains lacking any meaning.

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