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The Goldfinch

The Goldfinch

Book rating: 03 Paperback Abacus

By (author) Donna Tartt

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  • Publisher: Abacus
  • Format: Paperback | 880 pages
  • Dimensions: 126mm x 192mm x 46mm | 560g
  • Publication date: 19 June 2014
  • Publication City/Country: London
  • ISBN 10: 0349139636
  • ISBN 13: 9780349139630
  • Sales rank: 30

Product description

Winner of the Pulitzer Prize for Fiction 2014 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 the thing that most 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.

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Author information

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.

Customer reviews

By Carol Marwick 03 Nov 2014 1

I had three goes at reading this book, each time getting deeper into it; but never managed to finish it. It missed it's potential. The beginning led me to believe that it was going one of two ways both of which I felt would be better than they way it went. I gave it to a friend with a stack of other books but haven't had any feedback from her.

By Tania Hyde 25 Jun 2014 3

I admit I liked but didn't love The Secret History so I was hesitant about embarking on The Goldfinch. I should have gone with my gut. The Goldfinch starts with potential but ends up being self-indulgent and out of control. I got the feeling Tartt's editor was too scared to reign her in. Are editors not allowed to have a say after an author has had a best seller? By the time the story moves to Vegas I found myself thinking "get on with it". The seemingly endless and repetitive descriptions of drug use and hopelessness became boring fillers.


While Tartt is well known for her descriptive detail, I could distinctly visualise every character except for Theo - the main character no less! Speaking of characters, many would be introduced and given enough presence for you to think they're important and then they disappear or have no resolution (Lucious Reeve anyone?).


I also struggled with the timeline. There seemed to be some kind of time warp going on (fine for Science Fiction which this is not). Even after finishing, I still don't know when the story set. I've read several other reviews lamenting the same so I'm glad I'm not alone.

On a positive note, with the character Boris, Tartt nailed the idiosyncrasies with how Russians speak English (or was he Polish?). ***Spoiler Alert*** When Boris turned up again in the last third of the novel I was surprised he was still alive!


Don't be fooled by the accolades on the cover. Just because Tartt's output is slow (ten year gaps in between books), it doesn't mean the end result is a Masterpiece. The comparisons to Charles Dickens would have him turning in his grave. I am losing faith in the "best seller" tags copious amounts of books seem to carry these days...

By jane baxter 09 Jun 2014 5

Great book! 5 out of 5.Very thought provoking.Couldn't put it down. Touches on historical,political,familial and several different walks of life.

Review quote

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