THE GOLDFINCH by Donna Tartt

5 Feb

“Use Grammarly’s online proofreader because your other option is auto-correct, and it’s error-atic at best.”

It’s been a long time coming. Both this book, and my review of it.

In fact, I waited over a decade for Ms. Tartt to publish the follow-up to her acclaimed novel The Little Friend. When I discovered via PM that her new book The Goldfinch was slated to be published at the end of 2013, I was ecstatic. I quickly made note of the publication date, and started to count down the days until I would have her new book in my hands. There was some trepidation with regards to whether or not I should allow myself to get so excited about her new work. She hadn’t published anything in over a decade, and I was worried that the book would not stand up to its hype. Fortunately, my anxiety was all for nought. By all accounts, The Goldfinch is Ms. Tartt’s best work to date. The eleven year wait was well worth it, and I would gladly wait another decade for her next book if it is anywhere near as engaging and entertaining as her latest.

When I refer to The Goldfinch as being Ms. Tartt’s best work to date, I am referring to the fact that there is a maturity to the work that wasn’t present in her last two books. Not just a maturity to the writing itself, but to the characters as well. Not to imply that her previous characters were one-dimensional in any shape or form, but rather her latest work stars characters that are fuller, fleshier in the space they take up on the page. These characters have truly lived. They are marked by a beauty and tragedy of life in a way her previous characters were not.  And it makes sense. Ms. Tartt has lived more herself. And in the way her own person has been marked by a fuller life , so too have her characters.

I do not wish to reveal any of the plot for those who have not read the book yet. All I will say, is that by far the character that stole the show for me was Boris. In my opinion, he drove the narrative and stole the limelight in every scene he starred in. There were only a few points in the book where the plot started to lag, and whenever I would start to feel myself pulling away from the narrative, Boris would appear on the scene and catapult me right back into the thick of things. Speaking of the beauty and tragedy that can be found in life, Boris was the epicentre; in that his life was built on equal parts of all that is beautiful and tragic in this world. And therein lies the tragi-comedy that makes The Goldfinch such a spectacular read. When you recognize the world for what it is, you can’t help but laugh. And although The Goldfinch has its fair share of somber moments, there is a strong undercurrent of humour pulsating throughout the entire novel with plenty of laugh-out-loud moments.

These are characters you emotionally connect with, and form attachments to. I shared in Theo Decker’s anxiety as he navigates the seedy underbelly of the art world. I felt my heart break on numerous occasions for both Theo and Boris as they leave their messed up adolescence behind and attempt to forge new lives for themselves in their adulthood. And every time they falter, you wish you could step in and steer them in a better direction. I would go so far as to say that we all have a bit of Theo and Boris in us, and in the people we know in our real lives. We’re all broken in our own way, and it was refreshing to see such heavily flawed characters honestly portrayed on the page.

Just buy the book. You won’t regret it.

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One Response to “THE GOLDFINCH by Donna Tartt”

  1. Anne Clements February 5, 2014 at 6:54 pm #

    Couldn’t agree more. Very gripping and Boris was indeed a compelling character.

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