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The Goldfinch

The Goldfinch

Ranked on the top books of 2013 by numerous publications (chosen as "book of the year"  by amazon), Donna Tart's third novel, The Goldfinch , is undoubtedly a masterpiece similar to the Carel Fabritius painting over which the main drama of the novel revolves around. Reminiscent of Dickensian storytelling; with larger-than-life characters, a miserable orphan, and "startling coincidences and sudden swerves of fortune." (x) Narrated by Theo, the novel begins with his mother's tragic death, the singular event that shapes the rest of his life. "Still, The Goldfinch is more than a 700-plus page turner about a tragic loss: it’s also a globe-spanning mystery about a painting that has gone missing, an examination of friendship, and a rumination on the nature of art and appearances." (x) Seeing a novel this size makes it hard to commit, I know. But this novel is worth it (and I have to admit I read the whole thing in a day). The language is rich and enticing, the story grabs you and refuses to let go.

The Goldfinch is a "glorious, Dickensian novel, a novel that pulls together all [Tart's] remarkable storytelling talents into a rapturous, symphonic whole and reminds the reader of the immersive, stay-up-all-night pleasures of reading." (x)

Things would have turned out better if she had lived. As it was, she died when I was a kid; and though everything that's happened to me since then is thoroughly my own fault, still when I lost her I lost sight of any landmark that might have led me someplace happier, to some more populated or congenial life. (The Golfinch, page 7) 

Theo is suspended from school, and his mother and him are on the way to the conference when they go into the Metropolitan Museum of Art to get out of the heavy rains. Here, a terrorist attack occurs. The novel doesn't focus on the political consequences of the attack. Rather, Theo's life and how that moment - his mother's death - so drastically shapes the person he becomes. In the moments (or hours, Theo is an unreliable narrator, to say the least), an old man begs Theo to save "the Goldfinch" from the rubble, setting off a chain of (sometimes dangerous) events. However, I have to emphasize that the book does not focus on the painting so much as it focuses on Theo and his journey through life (and Boris, one of the more memorable characters I have encountered in a while). Each section in the novel begins with a quote:

I. "The absurd does not liberate; it binds" Albert Camus
II. "When we are strongest - who draws back? Most merry - who falls down laughing? When we are very bad, - what can they do to us?" Arthur Rimbaud
III. "We are so accustomed to disguise ourselves to others, that in the end, we become disguised to ourselves" François de La Rochefoucauld
IV. "It is not flesh and blood, but heart which makes us fathers and sons." Schiller
V. "We have art in order not to die from the truth" - Nietzsche

I believe that the quotes authors choose offer insight into what meaning they want their readers to glean from their work. These five quotes aptly demonstrate Theo's development over the years that this novel covers. I strongly urge you to read this novel when you have the chance; even if you only have time just read the first chapter or two, I am sure you will be completely enthralled. Rating: ★★★★★

Americanah

Americanah

People of the Book

People of the Book