The Goldfinch. Much acclaimed. Varying opinions. Finally my opportunity to read it myself and after loving The Secret History I was ready to delve into Tartt’s writing once again. The Goldfinch tells the story of Theo, who when caught up in a terrorist attack at a museum, dazed and confused, takes the titular famous painting and the ring of a dying man along with some strange instructions. What follows is his story and the ramifications of his actions that day. Falling from his life immediately after the tragedy up until years in the future. This is another intricate, layered story by Tartt that draws you in rather quickly and captivates you.
I flew through the first half of this book. I wasn’t prepared for the book to go off with such a bang (literally) and was scrambling to find out what happened, how Theo was going to deal with such a harrowing situation at the tender age of thirteen. I loved reading from his perspective as he grows and develops over the years, trying to keep his head above water. Then the book jumps forward. Theo is all grown up, an adult (responsible, that is debatable) and this is where my feelings for the book complicate. I don’t like Theo anymore. I don’t agree with his decisions, I can’t respect where he has found himself. Most frustrating of all for me is that he ends up being one of hose people who float through their life without making they own decisions, letting others do it for him and inevitably get him in to trouble.
A redeeming feature for me was the host of supporting characters. I loved Hobie and Pippa. Boris and Mrs Barbour were intriguing characters. They each lifted the story and kept Theo’s life interesting, even if it was at his expense at times. Each vivid in their own right ranging from downright likeable to the kind of person you don’t want in your life purely because of their destructiveness. The last part of the book picks up the pace immeasurably with the whole story coming together to an intense climax that is alluded to in the first chapter. Finally it all becomes clear and I found myself thrilled and wanting to know ultimately how it all ends.
Tarot’s prose is a highlight as always. I love the way she writes, gripping and pulling you in. Writing with such brutal honestly, no false happy endings here. You must all pay your price for your actions and live with the consequences. Parts of me were screaming for a sliver of a happy ending, however, Tartt keeps the conclusion honest. I found I didn’t quite connect with it in the same way as I did with The Secret History but it was still a memorable read and left me with a desire to complete the trilogy, to read her third book The Little Friend (this will happen, soon). I give The Goldfinch three pieces of artwork, the centre of this book.