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Book Discussions > February 2015 Discussion: The Goldfinch by Donna Tartt

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message 1: by Tammy (new)

Tammy | 31 comments Mod
The Goldfinch is a novel of shocking narrative energy and power. It combines unforgettably vivid characters, mesmerizing language, and breathtaking suspense, while plumbing with a philosopher's calm the deepest mysteries of love, identity, and art. It is a beautiful, stay-up-all-night and tell-all-your-friends triumph, an old-fashioned story of loss and obsession, survival and self-invention, and the ruthless machinations of fate. From GoodReads.

What are your initial thoughts on this book?


message 2: by Stephanie (new)

Stephanie | 8 comments Placed my hold :) #144 of 18... Hoping to actually be able to read this months selection, THIS month!!! Sounds fascinating!!!


message 3: by Stephanie (new)

Stephanie | 8 comments Well, got my book today :) here we go!! Thank you :)


message 4: by Stephanie (new)

Stephanie | 8 comments Well, got my book today :) here we go!! Thank you :)


message 5: by Stephanie (new)

Stephanie (viaggiatrice) | 70 comments Mod
I just finished the audio version...which at 75 chapters, took FOREVER. I actually had to return the eAudiobook from OneClick and check it out from Overdrive because I couldn't fit it into three weeks! I really enjoyed it, though. I thought it was interesting that she told sort of an alternate history story based on a real painting that has decidedly never been stolen (at least not recently...I admit I haven't studied its full history), and a terrorist event that never happened -- but could have.


message 6: by Suzanne (new)

Suzanne | 8 comments There was so much positive press about this book that I was very surprised to find it otherwise. Overrated and way too long. 800 pages in what could have been 300. Disjointed story lines, who cared about any of the unfortunate or unsavory characters?


message 7: by Tammy (new)

Tammy | 31 comments Mod
Stephanie wrote: "Well, got my book today :) here we go!! Thank you :)"

Oh, that's great, Stephanie! How are you liking it so far?


message 8: by Tammy (new)

Tammy | 31 comments Mod
Stephanie wrote: "I just finished the audio version...which at 75 chapters, took FOREVER. I actually had to return the eAudiobook from OneClick and check it out from Overdrive because I couldn't fit it into three we..."

It's certainly a long one! I would imagine you'd need a very long commute in order to listen to the whole thing in 3 weeks.


message 9: by Tammy (new)

Tammy | 31 comments Mod
Suzanne wrote: "There was so much positive press about this book that I was very surprised to find it otherwise. Overrated and way too long. 800 pages in what could have been 300. Disjointed story lines, who cared..."

I usually enjoy very long books -- admittedly, I'm not all that far into this one (only up to 160), but so far I am enjoying it. I haven't run across any unsavory characters as yet. Thank you for your comments, Suzanne.


message 10: by Stephanie (new)

Stephanie (viaggiatrice) | 70 comments Mod
I think who is good/who is bad is one of the major themes of the book. Is Boris a bad guy? He certainly plays by his own set of rules, but he seems to adhere to them. Is Theo bad or a product of his circumstances/experiences? What about Kitty? What makes a character fall into one catagory or the other?


message 11: by Stephanie (new)

Stephanie | 8 comments I'm up to about page 180...so far I'm liking it!!


message 12: by Gail (new)

Gail Schumacher | 62 comments This book was one of the worst books I've ever read in my life---almost 800 pages of rambling dreck---worse than The Four Corners Of The Sky (Big Library Read 2013). It was almost a candidate for Abandoned Books (July 2013 AACPL book Discussion)---hard to believe it won a Pulitzer Prize in 2014---I wonder what the losers are like.


message 13: by Tammy (new)

Tammy | 31 comments Mod
Gail wrote: "This book was one of the worst books I've ever read in my life---almost 800 pages of rambling dreck---worse than The Four Corners Of The Sky (Big Library Read 2013). It was almost a candidate for A..."

I'm sorry to hear that you didn't like it, Gail. Kudos to you for finishing it when you had such a negative reaction to it. I'm enjoying it so far.


message 14: by Tammy (new)

Tammy | 31 comments Mod
Ok everyone -- I've got some discussion questions for you! Let's start with this one: How convincingly does Tartt write about Theo's grief and survivor guilt?


message 15: by Cortney (last edited Feb 08, 2015 06:12AM) (new)

Cortney Gardner (cortneygard) I read The Goldfinch about 8 months ago. I really enjoyed the book, but I did think Tartt could have shortened the story about 300 pages to make it about 500 pages total and it still would be a great book. I loved the characters in this story, they are ones that will stay with me for years. Boris was interesting because I kept thinking he was going to do something really bad and turn out to be a villain of some sort, but he never really was, he was just a shady character, and I liked that about him. Throughout the book, I kept thinking how Theo's life changed so drastically after one dramatic incident. Scary to think about. I like how all the characters were so different; The wealthy Barbours and their lavish lifestyle vs his dad and his sleazy lifestyle to Pippa who gave Theo hope, to Hobie who grounded him, Boris who taught him the ways of life (whether they be good or bad) and even Popper, who gave him something to care for in his disordered life.
As for Tammy's question, I felt like Theo had so many things to worry about to get him through life. He was torn up about the death of his mother, the only solid, grounded thing in his life but I felt the story was more about surviving without his mother, how his life changed so dramatically and how he had to cope with these changes. He seemed bitter about the whole incident, as would I. How life is not fair and why was he put in the situation he was in. If the bombing hadn't happened or if his mother had not perished, I think Theo would have turned out to be an entirely different person and I think that's what I liked so much about the book. Theo had to grow up almost overnight and I think it really took a toll on who he became and his expectations of the world.


message 16: by Cortney (new)

Cortney Gardner (cortneygard) Did you see, Warner Bros. is making a movie of The Goldfinch?!


message 17: by Gail (new)

Gail Schumacher | 62 comments I hope the movie is better than the book---after I read this book I read The Dinner, which I feel is much better written even tho it's about a family of evil sociopaths & psychopaths. In The Goldfinch the only evil sociopaths are Theo's dad, Kitsey/Boris h.s. girlfriend, the art thieves & antique swindlers/like Lucian Reeves, & the museum bombers. & most, if not all, of these characters were raised in a family of domestic violence, which can sometimes lead a lot of us to not always to "do the right thing" simply to survive.


message 18: by Gail (new)

Gail Schumacher | 62 comments Also, the last part of the last chapter of this book explains why it was written in such a rambling way---& I won't give it away here.


message 19: by Tammy (new)

Tammy | 31 comments Mod
Cortney wrote: "I read The Goldfinch about 8 months ago. I really enjoyed the book, but I did think Tartt could have shortened the story about 300 pages to make it about 500 pages total and it still would be a gre..."

Yes, I am finding the same thing, Cortney -- that this story could have easily been told in many fewer pages without really losing anything at all.


message 20: by Tammy (new)

Tammy | 31 comments Mod
Cortney wrote: "Did you see, Warner Bros. is making a movie of The Goldfinch?!"

I did not know that! So, being a librarian, of course I looked it up! It appears that the production company that did the Hunger Games movies has purchased the movie rights to the book and that the screenwriter of Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy will write it. It would seem that with a team like that, they should come up with something pretty great.


message 21: by Tammy (new)

Tammy | 31 comments Mod
Gail wrote: "I hope the movie is better than the book---after I read this book I read The Dinner, which I feel is much better written even tho it's about a family of evil sociopaths & psychopaths. In The Goldfi..."

Now I will be adding The Dinner to my TBR list!


message 22: by Tammy (new)

Tammy | 31 comments Mod
Gail wrote: "Also, the last part of the last chapter of this book explains why it was written in such a rambling way---& I won't give it away here."

Thank you for not giving away the ending, Gail! My curiosity is now piqued, though!


message 23: by Tammy (new)

Tammy | 31 comments Mod
It may have been poor planning on my part to choose such a long book to read in the shortest month! I'm about 2/3 through it with only a week left in February. I'd like to toss out another question for you to consider, this one in regards to Theo's father. Obviously, he's not a likable person, but did anyone find any redeeming quality in his portrayal? How about his girlfriend?


message 24: by Stephanie (new)

Stephanie | 8 comments Well, redeeming or not, he did finally step up to take care of his kid. Even if it WAS for money...which he couldn't get hold of...he tried. The girlfriend also...she at least made sure he had food...I'm not really sure how I feel about this book. I agree that it was SEVERELY over written and thankfully we got a clue to really pay attention to the last chapter as I most likely would have missed WHY the book was written in such a rambling manor...absolutely hated Boris and feel as tho he was taking advantage of Theo. even in the end dragging him all around the retrieve Theo's own painting. I wish Theo had stood up for himself more but can understand why he didn't...


message 25: by Cortney (new)

Cortney Gardner (cortneygard) I didn't care for his father at all, but I felt he was an important character to the book. Without the father in the story, Theo probably would have stayed in NY, but I'm not sure who he would have ended up with. He would not have met Boris, or learned the hard life lessons he learned in Vegas. I liked Boris as a character. Definitely not your typical character!


message 26: by Tammy (new)

Tammy | 31 comments Mod
Stephanie wrote: "Well, redeeming or not, he did finally step up to take care of his kid. Even if it WAS for money...which he couldn't get hold of...he tried. The girlfriend also...she at least made sure he had fo..."

You're right, Stephanie, dad did step up eventually, but I felt like it was all out of obligation and the idea that he could get his hands on Theo's money, rather than any real concern for his son's well-being. Especially since it took MONTHS for him to finally show up. I was shocked when he died in a car crash, though. And Xandra? Well, yes, she made sure Theo had food, but she treated him as if he were a nuisance. It was quite clear that neither the father nor the girlfriend really wanted him.


message 27: by Tammy (new)

Tammy | 31 comments Mod
Cortney wrote: "I didn't care for his father at all, but I felt he was an important character to the book. Without the father in the story, Theo probably would have stayed in NY, but I'm not sure who he would have..."

Boris certainly is a unique character! He had a rough life prior to landing in Las Vegas, which I'm sure played a huge part in who he is -- I could definitely see how he and Theo ended up friends. I didn't at all care for the rampant drug use, and that's another example of how little Theo's father and his girlfriend really cared for him: that all the drug use was going on, and they didn't even know it, or at least didn't care enough to do anything about it.


message 28: by Suzanne (new)

Suzanne | 8 comments Now you are getting why I called the characters unsavory and unfortunate. This book was a total downer for me. I don't enjoy seeing characters like these who seem to prosper by doing the wrong thing.Ordinarily I would have never finished this book but because it was so popular I gave it the chance to prove me wrong. Big waste of time for me.


message 29: by Merry (new)

Merry | 12 comments Suzanne, I agree with you 100%. I call this a "lemming book" because one critic praises it so everyone follows suit even though many of them probably dislike it as much as we do. I think there are too many wonderful books out there to waste time with books like this. And yes, I finished it too.


message 30: by Tammy (new)

Tammy | 31 comments Mod
Suzanne wrote: "Now you are getting why I called the characters unsavory and unfortunate. This book was a total downer for me. I don't enjoy seeing characters like these who seem to prosper by doing the wrong thin..."

Yes, I do understand your point, Suzanne. I am determined to finish it, if only to find out in the last chapter why Tartt felt it necessary to drag it out so. I am curious what happens to Theo, although I have to say, I'm not entirely happy with the path he is taking (I'm at the part in the story where he is running the antiques stop -- I don't really like that he's being so dishonest in his business dealings.)


message 31: by Tammy (new)

Tammy | 31 comments Mod
Merry wrote: "Suzanne, I agree with you 100%. I call this a "lemming book" because one critic praises it so everyone follows suit even though many of them probably dislike it as much as we do. I think there are ..."

Merry, I agree that there are many more wonderful books to be ready. I'll be honest: I am a librarian and I'm not really all that into 'literary fiction'. I have learned over the years that it is ok to not finish a book -- this one, I guess I'm too curious about the way it will play out to put it down now, but I do think I will be relieved when I'm done.


message 32: by Stephanie (new)

Stephanie | 8 comments At least we can say we have read a Pulitzer Prize winning book...haha!! I have to agree that it was hard to get thru and normally I also would have put it down by now...I wanted to read it and then wanted to finish just to see how it ended...


message 33: by Stephanie (new)

Stephanie | 8 comments At least we can say we have read a Pulitzer Prize winning book...haha!! I have to agree that it was hard to get thru and normally I also would have put it down by now...I wanted to read it and then wanted to finish just to see how it ended...


message 34: by Cortney (last edited Feb 24, 2015 04:57PM) (new)

Cortney Gardner (cortneygard) Like I said, the book could have been a lot shorter and still been a great story, but I personally really enjoyed the book. I thought it was very different than most books I read and looking back at some of the people that have crossed my path in high school and college, I felt I understood Boris and Theo and the choices they made in their life with the lack of parental guidance and their basic needs not being met. The book stood out when I read it last April and it will stay with me for a long time. I can see how it's not for everyone. It's one that people either liked or didn't like, and that's okay.


message 35: by Tammy (new)

Tammy | 31 comments Mod
Well, I finished this book today, the last day of our discussion. I have to say that I didn't love it. I found myself skipping paragraphs towards the end -- whole pages in some cases, but I kept plugging away to get to the end, because I wanted to know the why. The answer to the why made sense to me, but at the same time, I just felt a tad let down. I didn't like where the characters went during the last 1/3 of the story, I thought Theo's relationship with Kitsey seemed forced, and that Boris returned was necessary to the plot, but disappointing because I found I did not care for him at all. I'm glad that I read it, but I am also glad I finished it.

Thank you all for participating in our February discussion. Remember that anyone can comment here at any time regarding the Goldfinch. Tomorrow, March 1, begins our next discussion of Orfeo.


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