The Goldfinch by Donna Tartt

Bought in an extravagant book purchase in Victoria to support the fabulous independent book store, Munro’s, I had high hopes for this much praised novel. Described as  “gloriously Dickensian”, I couldn’t resist; however, despite enjoying the read overall, I felt somewhat misled by this complimentary literary allusion.

Theo Decker, our protagonist, loses his mother in a tragic terrorist attack at an art museum in New York where they live. While attempting to escape the wreckage, he finds two things that will change his life forever: a small painting of a goldfinch and a dying man who tells him enigmatically to go to “Hobart” and “ring the green bell”.

Taking the painting, he does indeed track down Hobart but this part of the story is cut short when Theo’s estranged father takes him to live with him in Las Vegas. A gambler and ex-alcoholic, his dad is rarely around, so he befriends Bons, a Russian heavy drinker who introduces him to swearing, drugs and girls.

The story stalls several times and I did begin to lose interest in Theo’s predicament. Bons was a very engaging character; however, the final third of the story when he reappears to complete the narrative of the stolen goldfinch picture is rather bizarre and long-winded.

Overall, this was an okay summer read – but don’t dare compare it with Dickens!

Rating: 3/5

Why? Plot loses pace and seems contrived by the end. Writing style is inconsistent and not particularly original. Main character left me cold by the end.


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