The Goldfinch

The Goldfinch by Donna Tartt, New York : Little, Brown and Company, 2013.

The Goldfinch by Donna Tartt

Young Theo and his mother duck into the museum on a rainy day while waiting for a meeting with his principal. A terrorist attack shatters his reality and leads to the theft of a masterpiece. With his mother now dead and his father out of the picture, Theo is staying with a friend’s family, obsessed with the little painting that’s made its way into his possession and reminds him so much of his mother. When his father’s return leads to years of unattended misbehavior, it’s no surprise that Theo becomes a less scrupulous man later in life.

Theo is now in business with Hobie, a restoration and antique expert, Hobie who welcomed Theo in when he needed it.  When the opportunities to swindle those too-rich customers arise Theo can’t help himself.  What started as a quick and easy way to get them out of debt, may now be their downfall.  One of his customers is onto his game but instead of wanting to negotiate for the fraudulent furniture, he wants the painting that Theo’s been hiding since the explosion. 

Theo should have known this new development would have something to do with his childhood partner in crime, Boris, since he hasn’t ever spoken of or shown the painting to anyone.  It turns out that drugs and alcohol lead to many blackouts that revealed things he never meant to discuss.  But now, the Goldfinch painting is a missing masterpiece and Boris is back to apologize for having stolen it from and then losing it himself. Can Theo survive the emotional turmoil and dangers that lie in wait?

Donna Tartt’s “The Goldfinch” is one of those novels that you either love or really don’t.  Love comes from the characters being really interesting and the plotline is unique and entertaining.  On the other side, there is an overload of description that turns what would be an all-around excellent three or four hundred page novel into an extensive and annoying seven hundred and eighty page book.  For those interested in this story, but daunted by the size of this novel, give the audiobook version a try.  It allows for enjoyment of the characters and easy fast forwarding during those moments of overloaded detail.  Happy reading!

Susana Goldman is the Director of the Alamance County Public Library.  She can be reached at (336) 513-4753 or sgoldman@alamancelibraries.org.