The Norman Transcript

N-town reviews

December 13, 2013

Book review: The Goldfinch brings Dickensian flair

NORMAN — Book: The Goldfinch (2013, Little, Brown and Company)

Author: Donna Tartt

Why you should read: Tartt’s newest work is a most-anticipated creation for fans of her previous two novels, “The Secret History” and “The Little Friend.” Since 1992, Tartt’s books have made their appearance once a decade, yet their success seems to know no bounds. The same can be said of “The Goldfinch,” which currently stands at No. 3 on the NY Times Bestseller List for hardcover fiction. And, with Dickensian flair, Tartt has weaved together a timeless story filled with beauty and emotion.

In the beginning, we meet 13-year-old Theo Decker, the narrator and hero of the story, who lives with his loved-by-everyone mother in Manhattan. His father up and left without warning, leaving nothing behind and no forwarding address. One day, Theo and his mother make for his prep school to discuss his suspension for smoking on the property, when they detour to the Metropolitan Museum of Art. There, his mother shows him her most favorite painting, “The Goldfinch,” a real work of art created in 1654 by Dutch artist Carel Fabritius. Theo reluctantly listens to his mother’s praise for the paining, and a terrorist bomb detonates in the museum. His mother is killed and his life is changed forever. Theo consoles a dying man in the aftermath, who gives him a ring and urges him to take the painting from the carnage, which starts him on a coming-of-age journey involving friends, family, drugs and love.

Tartt has a remarkable skill with words and she conveys all manner of emotions with ease. Her attention to detail paints a vivid picture of Theo’s trials and adventures throughout the story. However, at nearly 800 pages, the story tends to drag every once in a while, but the journey is worth the read. “The Goldfinch” is a delightful read that will stick with readers after its end.

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