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The Goldfinch : Winner of Pulitzer Prize For Fiction 2014  - Donna Tartt

The Goldfinch

Winner of Pulitzer Prize For Fiction 2014

Paperback

Published: 3rd June 2014
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Winner of Pulitzer Prize For Fiction 2014

Book Description

Donna Tartt, author of the phenomenal bestsellers The Secret History and The Little Friend, returns with a breathtaking new novel.

Aged thirteen, Theo Decker, son of a devoted mother and a reckless, largely absent father, survives an accident that otherwise tears his life apart. Alone and rudderless in New York, he is taken in by the family of a wealthy friend. He is tormented by an unbearable longing for his mother, and down the years clings to one thing that reminds him of her: a small, strangely captivating painting that ultimately draws him into the criminal underworld. As he grows up, Theo learns to glide between the drawing rooms of the rich and the dusty antiques store where he works. He is alienated and in love - and his talisman, the painting, places him at the centre of a narrowing, ever more dangerous circle.

The Goldfinch is a haunted odyssey through present-day America and a drama of enthralling power. Combining unforgettably vivid characters and thrilling suspense, it is a beautiful, addictive triumph - a sweeping story of loss and obsession, of survival and self-invention, of the deepest mysteries of love, identity and fate.

Read Caroline Baum's Review

Few works of literary fiction will have been anticipated more than this hefty novel by an author already mythologised before she turned thirty thanks to her cult debut The Secret History.

It's been more than ten years since her second novel, The Little Friend . Since then, she's been off the radar. Rumours have swirled, deadlines have slipped.

Now Tartt is back and back in fine form, writing a dense, intelligent, complex and dark story about a small jewel of a painting that goes missing from the Metropolitan Museum following a bomb attack.

Its fate is told by a young unreliable narrator, Theo Decker- thirteen when we meet him - who has lost his mother in the museum explosion and attended the dying moments of an old man, prompting him, irrationally, to take the small painting and keep it hidden through the ensuing turmoil of his life: first with the marvellously preppy uptown Barbour family who take him in and then in the squalid chaos of Vegas, where he lives for a brief moment with his hopeless gambler father and his new girlfriend Xandra, (a piece of work who gives Tartt the opportunity to deploy her considerable comic skills ).

When Theo moves back to New York, he learns the antiques trade from the gentle Hobie, a true craftsman with no head for business. There are brilliant set pieces and a cast of characters who echo Dickens, and Henry James, pinpointing every nuance of social standing with forensic detail. Boris, a shady Russian who befriends Theo in Vegas, is the book's most memorable scene stealer, navigating the underworld and a druggy twilight zone with Slavic charm.

The book is really a love letter to New York, uptown and downtown, and to the opaque and often dubious world of antiques and their collectors. It's long and demanding and its pace is frustratingly languid at times but as a stylist, Tartt has such mastery that she keeps you in her thrall till the narrative picks up momentum.

About the Author

Donna Tartt was born in Greenwood, Mississippi, and is a graduate of Bennington College. She is the author of the novels The Secret History and The Little Friend, which have been translated into thirty languages.

REVIEW SNAPSHOT®

by PowerReviews
The Goldfinch
 
4.0

(based on 9 reviews)

Ratings Distribution

  • 5 Stars

     

    (4)

  • 4 Stars

     

    (3)

  • 3 Stars

     

    (1)

  • 2 Stars

     

    (0)

  • 1 Stars

     

    (1)

89%

of respondents would recommend this to a friend.

Pros

  • Engaging characters (7)
  • Page turner (7)
  • Well written (7)
  • Deserves multiple readings (3)
  • Suspenseful (3)

Cons

No Cons

Best Uses

  • Travel reading (4)
  • Gift (3)
  • Older readers (3)
    • Reviewer Profile:
    • Everyday reader (6), Bookworm (3)

Reviewed by 9 customers

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Displaying reviews 1-9

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5.0

HALL OF FAME, HERE WE COME!!!!!!!

By 

from Adelaide AU

About Me Bookworm

Pros

  • Beauty In Literary Form
  • Deserves Multiple Readings
  • Educational
  • Engaging Characters
  • Page Turner
  • Suspenseful
  • Well Written

Cons

  • It ends

Best Uses

  • Gift
  • Older Readers

Comments about The Goldfinch:

This masterpiece of divine literary art from Donna Tartt is an unequivocal joy to read. There is no surprise in store for me that it was awarded the Pulitzer Prize for Fiction back in 2014; what *is* surprising is that it failed to win more prizes of an international nature. One doesn't simply *read* THE GOLDFINCH, one experiences it; one is uplifted by the attention to detail, and one is forced to sit in wonder at the effect it has on one's soul. The writing style used in the book is incredibly detailed; but therein lies it's rub. For some readers that is the major problem with the book. In my opinion, it defines, and completely justifies, the book's existence.

The story opens with a glorious dissertation on the wonders of love, art, devotion to one's family members, and death. A young boy is taken to an art gallery in New York City just when it is attacked by terrorism. Before the chaos hits the building (and that of the book), a portrait featuring a tiny finch is described by Ms Tartt and excruciating, but heartbreakingly beautiful detail. Hence the book's title. I am not sure if Young Theo is impressed by this pseudo lecture, but I certainly was, and even now, I can't look at the book's cover and not be moved by it.

Once the bomb goes off, many people are killed, hundreds are wounded, and most (if not all) are traumatised for life. This book focuses on young Theo Decker, whose mother is the book's brilliant, art-loving super star, and sadly, also one of the victims of the book's opening attack on freedom.

It takes close to 150 pages for the boy (Theo) to even come to grips with the loss of his mother, but on every one of those pages, close to every sentence is a jewel for the reader to pick up and examine. Plot strands become entwined as the story progresses (obviously) but the book's first true literary highlight comes at the start of chapter four ('Morphine Lollipop') when Theo returns a ring to its rightful owner. And as it happens, another young visitor to the museum that day, one that was lucky to (barely) escape with her life - lies in a room darkened from reality at precisely the same address.

A fan of this work will find it hard to put the book down. Conversations between characters (as well as the book's standard descriptive text) are so sublime, and beautifully drawn, and potentially pivotal to the story line, that you simply can't wait for them to come along in the book. And the book's characters themselves are so detailed and exquisitely presented to the reader that they become embedded into your mind (and heart, and soul) by the end of their relevant introductory paragraphs.

There are only 12 'chapters' in the book, which totals almost 900 pages. But if you treat each chapter as a 'part' then the book is easily broken down into sub-chapters, which no doubt makes the book less of a challenge. Not that it needs to be made any easuer. This Rolls Royce of Literature just about reads itself. All YOU have to do is turn the pages! Each 'part' is given a rather abstract title however. Chapter one is entitled, 'Boy With A Skull', and chapter 2 is, 'The Anatomy Lesson'. I must admit to not seeing the connection between each of the titles and the action contained in each chapter, but I expect by book's end I will be more experienced in divining Ms Tartt's thought processes than I was at the start.

So what do i think of this book? It is an amazing and incredible read. It is uplifting, funny, sad, realistic, but gruesome, extraordinarily emotive and happens to be one of the most beautifully written books I have ever come across.

Novels this good don't deserve a five star rating. They should be given a HALL OF FAME AWARD and be given six.

BFN Greggorio!

Comment on this review

 
5.0

Brilliant book

By 

from Townsville, Qld

About Me Everyday Reader

Pros

  • Engaging Characters
  • Page Turner
  • Well Written

Cons

    Best Uses

    • Travel Reading

    Comments about The Goldfinch:

    I loved this book, the characters were well developed and the plot was a page turner for me.

    Comment on this review

     
    1.0

    Worst book I have ever read or not read

    By 

    from Sydney

    About Me Everyday Reader

    Pros

      Cons

      • Disappointing

      Best Uses

        Comments about The Goldfinch:

        Rubbish dreadful ending. Worst book i have ever struggled through if fact I would not even give it away, threw it away.

        Comment on this review

         
        3.0

        little 'long winded' at times

        By 

        from Flinders View. Queensland

        About Me Everyday Reader

        Verified Buyer

        Pros

        • Engaging Characters

        Cons

        • Not What I expected

        Best Uses

        • Travel Reading

        Comments about The Goldfinch:

        For a prize winner it left me a little disappointed

        Comment on this review

         
        5.0

        The Goldfinch.... a great book

        By 

        from Adelaide

        About Me Bookworm

        Verified Buyer

        Pros

        • Deserves Multiple Readings
        • Engaging Characters
        • Page Turner
        • Suspenseful
        • Well Written

        Cons

          Best Uses

            Comments about The Goldfinch:

            This was a really great book.I found it mesmerising. I love the way the author really got inside the characters. This book was not what I expected it would be but it was very enjoyable to read.

            Comment on this review

             
            4.0

            Loved this book

            By 

            from Melbourne

            About Me Everyday Reader

            Verified Buyer

            Pros

            • Engaging Characters
            • Page Turner
            • Well Written

            Cons

            • The End Is Confusing

            Best Uses

            • Unique

            Comments about The Goldfinch:

            This was a good read. Lots of emotional ups and downs - I thoroughly enjoyed it though I found the end of it quite frustrating.

            Comment on this review

             
            4.0

            worth the effort

            By 

            from central coast NSW

            About Me Everyday Reader

            Verified Buyer

            Pros

            • Engaging Characters
            • Page Turner
            • Well Written

            Cons

            • Disappointing

            Best Uses

            • Gift
            • Older Readers
            • Travel Reading

            Comments about The Goldfinch:

            a great story characters are well developed. plot moves quickly at times compelling. found the last part of the book a bit hard to read but overall a great book and worth reading

            Comment on this review

             
            5.0

            Intriguing. You just want to open it.

            By 

            from Melbourne

            About Me Bookworm

            Verified Buyer

            Pros

            • Deserves Multiple Readings
            • Engaging Characters
            • Page Turner
            • Suspenseful
            • Well Written

            Cons

              Best Uses

              • Gift
              • Older Readers
              • Travel Reading

              Comments about The Goldfinch:

              Reasonable price and quick delivery for a quality product.

              Comment on this review

               
              4.0

              Book Club Best

              By 

              from Sydney

              About Me Everyday Reader

              Verified Buyer

              Pros

              • Page Turner
              • Well Written

              Cons

                Best Uses

                  Comments about The Goldfinch:

                  The Goldfinch was chosen for our book club reading list. The size of the book worried me at first, but it was an absolute page turner. Extremely well written with an exciting end. Didn't want the book to end.

                  Comment on this review

                  Displaying reviews 1-9

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                  A glorious novel that pulls together all her remarkable storytelling talents into a rapturous, symphonic whole and reminds the reader of the immersive, stay-up-all-night pleasures of reading -- Michiko Kakutani New York Times The Goldfinch is a triumph ... Donna Tartt has delivered an extraordinary work of fiction -- Stephen King New York Times An astonishing achievement ... if anyone has lost their love of storytelling, The Goldfinch will most certainly return it to them. The last few pages of the novel take all the serious, big, complicated ideas beneath the surface and hold them up to the light Guardian A modern epic and an old-fashioned pilgrimage...Dickens with guns, Dostoevsky with pills, Tolstoy with antiques. And if it doesn't gain Tartt entry to the mostly boys' club that is The Great American Novel, to drink with life-members John Steinbeck, Harper Lee, Saul Bellow, Philip Roth et al, then we should close down the joint and open up another for the Great Global Novel - for that is what this is -- Alex O'Connell The Times

                  Donna Tartt

                  Donna Tartt is a novelist, essayist and critic. Her first novel,The Secret History, was a bestseller and has been published in twenty-three languages. The Little Friend won the WH Smith Literary Award, in the UK, and was shortlisted for the Orange Prize for Fiction. Tartt's long-awaited third novel, titled The Goldfinch, is set for publication in October 2013 after originally being slated for publication in September 2008. The plot is described thus: "“A young boy in New York City, Theo Decker, miraculously survives an accident that takes the life of his mother. Alone and determined to avoid being taken in by the city as an orphan, Theo scrambles between nights in friends’ apartments and on the city streets. He becomes entranced by the one thing that reminds him of his mother: a small, mysteriously captivating painting that soon draws Theo into the art underworld. Composed with the skills of a master, The Goldfinch is a haunted odyssey through present-day America. It is a story of loss and obsession, survival and self-invention, and the enormous power of art.”

                  Visit Donna Tartt's Booktopia Author Page


                  ISBN: 9780349139630
                  ISBN-10: 0349139636
                  Audience: General
                  Format: Paperback
                  Language: English
                  Number Of Pages: 880
                  Published: 3rd June 2014
                  Publisher: Little, Brown Book Group
                  Country of Publication: GB
                  Dimensions (cm): 20.1 x 13.2  x 5.0
                  Weight (kg): 0.6
                  Edition Number: 1