The Goldfinch…where to begin?
You know that feeling you get when you walk out of a really great movie? That sensation of having to reorient yourself to reality? You are a little dazed. Almost like waking up from a highly detailed dream. Your eyes have to adjust to the light. You check a clock to see what time it is, willing to believe whatever the hands tell you. That is this book.
The characters are incredibly well developed and the scenes so richly detailed. Tartt accomplishes this by slowing down the pace, which allows the relationships, personalities and emotions to breathe. The slow pace also allows tension to build, as conflicts aren’t easily resolved within just a few pages.
The story hinges around this boy, Theo, who is drifting through life after his mother dies. He only has a treasured painting, a mostly absentee father, and his best friend’s family to call his own. As we read, Theo and the rest of the characters grow and mature. There is loss, there is discovery, there is hope and failure. There is also the painting, The Goldfinch, which comes to symbolize and promise so much.
This is a real story. No zombies, no apocalypse, no time travel, no dragons, no mutant powers. Despite being completely realistic, it is completely mesmerizing. I attribute this mostly to Tartt’s writing style. It’s rich, and deep, and full of gritt and emotion. Here’s a brief sample:
“A great sorrow, and one that I am only beginning to understand: we don’t get to choose our own hearts. We can’t make ourselves want what’s good for us or what’s good for other people. We don’t get to choose the people we are.”
On top of all this praise, the book also won The Pulitzer Prize for Fiction in 2014, among other numerous awards. It is high quality literature, which is sometimes hard to find in today’s world.
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