The Goldfinch, Donna Tartt, Little Brown and Company, 2013, 771 pp
This extraordinary novel will definitely go on my top favorite books list for 2013. Despite its length I read it in four days, each day reading more pages than the day before and staying up later than the night before.
I finally read The Secret History two years ago at the insistence of a reader friend. My experience was mixed and it was one of those books I liked better after I finished it than I did while reading it.
The Goldfinch grabbed me right away. I had obligations in life during those four days but all I wanted to do was read about Theo Decker. First he was deserted by his father, then he lost his mother in a terrible explosion in a New York City art museum, and then one thing after another happened until he finally got some semblance of control over his life. What Donna Tartt does with this plot pretty much defies description though hundreds of reviewers and bloggers have tried.
TOP SEVEN THINGS I LOVED BEST ABOUT THE GOLDFINCH:
1. The character of Theo; thoroughly modern but so Dickensian.
2. His functionally alcoholic Russian friend Boris. Frenemy?
3. The thing Theo did while still in shock from the explosion that he then had to keep to himself, making his life a misery. (Now that I think of it, The Secret History had a similar theme but Tartt takes it to a whole new level.)
4. Theo's hopeless love for Pippa.
5. The way Hobart and Blackwell was a portal to another world for Theo.
6. The author's deft and compassionate portrayal of PTSD. I have not seen it done better.
7. The seamless melding of a coming-of-age tale, a love story, a thriller, and an apologia for art, with the philosophy of life Theo settles on at the end.
I was going for a Top Ten List but by the time I got to #7, I had said all I wanted to say.
Of course not all novels can be this great though I wish more of them were.
(The Goldfinch is currently available on the shelf in hardcover at Once Upon A Time Bookstore. It is also available as an eBook by order.)