Wednesday, January 8, 2014

The Goldfinch



I didn't officially join Bout of Books this week because time is fickle during the school year. Some weeks I seem to have less time than others. However, we had two extra days off of school due to the wind chill giving us -36 temps. So, unofficially, I've been reading and joining Bout of Books on Twitter. My goal was simply to read and review The Goldfinch, which I finished and am reviewing here.

I'm having trouble thinking how to review The Goldfinch, by Donna Tartt. First off, the book has been highly hyped and reviewed already. Second, it's almost 800 pages...that's a whole lot of book to fit here. Third, I'm not quite sure of my opinion of it. It was a good story, but I feel I need to ruminate on it a bit more to give a better description than "good."

The hardback book itself is beautiful. The cover is, ironically or maybe purposefully, a work of art. Not just the imitation of the artwork, but the somewhat rough texture of the paper. The actual hard cover is white with the author and title in a casual black font. And the pages are as smooth as (insert something smooth here - I guarantee these pages are smoother). So smooth, the pages caught me off guard the first time I opened the book. Even knowing ahead that the storyline dealt with art, I didn't get the true feeling of art the book itself physically displays until I was well into the story.

The story deals with the life of Theodore Decker as he struggles through growing up after a tragedy takes away his most important person and places him in the hands of another who will lead him into a life he would never have known otherwise. And yet that same tragedy is what eventually leads him to anyone else good in his life as the story unfolds.

I feel Theo is a likable character. His tragedy automatically makes you sympathize with him and later, if his adult actions tick you off, you still pity him based on his tragic experience. Not that pity is a good thing or something to be envied, but Theo is quite simply lost. Nothing he does seems to have any thought and he lacks any true guidance. Even as the story moves into his adult life, he carries on as he did as a messed up teen. However, I couldn't find myself disliking him because of his continued destructive actions. I remembered the Theo that started the story and hoped that he'd end up that person I knew he had the potential to be once again.

What else is there to say? Maybe some key topics? Explosion, death, foster care, traveling across country and out of the country, bad influence, alcoholic father, runaway, PTSD, secret love, unmeaningful love, drugs, violence, fighting, art, money...there's more. Like I said, there's more story in 771 pages than I could possibly put in one review. Suffice it to say I thought it was a good story and I always wanted to see where Theo and his treasure would end up.

Is The Goldfinch on you radar for 2014? Or have you already read it? What did you think?

40 comments:

  1. Yes! Read -- one of my last books of 2013 and ironically reviewed it today :)

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    1. Yes and it was an amazing review! Anyone reading and commenting here should read Jennifer's review on the same book! It is a great example of how to review a large book! http://www.bookaliciousmama.com/fiction/goldfinch

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  2. It always feels like such a big commitment to tackle a chunkster like this one, but I'm glad it ended up being one you liked! I absolutely loved it and have a feeling it's going to be one of my favorite books for a long time.

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    1. I have a feeling I like it more than I've said. feel like I need to sit and just think it through and that alone makes me know it's a very worthwhile story.

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  3. Totally on my radar, sitting on my bookshelf as we speak. I've shied away from it because I've been anticipating reading it for so long and now that I have it, I want to enjoy the anticipation of reading it some more. And you know, library books.

    I love when books are beautiful like this. Another one that comes to mind is The Night Circus. Those pages were insanely smooth and creamy and then of course there were all the black pages and chapter illustrations.

    SO looking forward to The Goldfinch!

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    1. Yes! Glad someone else has seen that whole physical art side of books. I liked that it was more than just the cover design that felt artistic.

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  4. I still haven't read it, but I want too. Maybe I'll include it in my chunkster challenge ;)

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    1. Make sure you have some time for it! Jennifer above had said it was better to not have distractions and I agree. I needed to be less distracted.

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  5. It is living on my night stand actually ready to be picked up. But have some other books lined up before it still.

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    1. Yep, that's how it always works! My copy was waiting for awhile too.

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  6. Just finished The Goldfinch and was moved. I too kept pulling for Theo to reclaim his path to a higher plan. After finishing it, I was compelled to reread the explosion sequence. I was able to appreciate the dialogue between Theo and Pippa's grandfather even more than initially. Good book

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    1. Oh, that's a good idea! I'm going to go back and reread that scene too. It is referenced a bit near the end and by then I felt like the explosion scene was so long ago.

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  7. Didn't the fight sequence at the end feel straight out of an action movie? A little unrealistic for me - which is one of the issues I had with it. But there's also a lot to like about it, like you said. Mesmerizing prose in places. And Boris :)

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    1. Yea, a bit. And Boris as a major gangster was a little weird for me. At first I was still thinking of him as a punk teenager and couldn't reconcile all this big time dealing that he had going on.

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  8. I get more excited to tackle my copy of The Goldfinch with every review that I read!

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    1. The nice thing about big books is that reviews seem to give so many different views and parts to the book, so you never get tired of reading the reviews and just get more psyched.

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  9. I hope to get to this one next month. It's so huge, but from the sounds of the reviews, it'll be a quick read nonetheless. Very much looking forward to this one!

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    1. Yes, the story moves. Only one spot in the middle did I feel was a little too much and started to drag, but nothing compared to the book as a whole.

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  10. One thing that comes to mind is The Night Circus. Those pages were insanely smooth and creamy. I read the book how to Declutter Your Home. Best book to declutter your home.

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    1. That's what someone else said! I'll have to check it out next time I'm in the store. Best way to declutter my home is to throw things away!

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    2. Hi Jenning.. It is easy to say that to Declutter my home is to throw things away! but sometime may be you need that things,but throw it away so how will you get that. So manage your things in such way that if you want them in future you have that..

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    3. I do...I'm an organization freak!

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  11. I'm reading this one sooooooooon!!!!!

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  12. Loved this book! I didn't think Theo was really a likeable character (all the drugs and shady dealings)... and yet I loved him and rooted for him.

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    1. Completely agree...I kept thinking why do I still like him? But I did.

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  13. At first I didn't want to read it at all because of all the hype and then all my favourite bloggers started to read it and love it and I just knew I'll end up buying it. Actually, now it is one of my birthday presents for my upcoming 25th birthday next week! I love that you all describe it as a complex reading and challenging to one's feelings about characters. That is what good books should do.

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    1. It is irresistible when you keep seeing it pop up! Happy early birthday! Reading as a gift - doesn't get much better!

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  14. I need to read this one as well!!

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    1. A good one to add! Just make sure you've got time to enjoy it when you start it.

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  16. Oh, boy - I was reading through your review and got to "Theodore Decker," then for some reason read it as "Theodore Dreiser." I was furious for a second, there! How come no one told me this was about Dreiser!? Haha. Wonderful thoughts - this is definitely one I want to read, as everyone seems to be talking about it. No idea when I'll actually get to it, though. Probably long after it has stopped being discussed so topically.

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    1. Lol. I actually prefer to read a book when it's not the current hot topic. I feel like I can focus more on it than what's being said about it.

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  17. The Goldfinch is definitely on my to read list. I was going to get a copy from the library but I wonder if it will have the same luscious quality you describe.

    Sometimes books defy description, and sometimes it takes me awhile to sort through what I think about them.

    Good review--it piqued my interest in the book.

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    1. Thanks. Yes, this was one I had to sort through, not because it was questionable, just because there was so much to think about within the story. And mostly the ending.

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  18. I loved the beginning of this book & Hobie (of course) but I do feel that Tartt lost her way by the end (which I gave up on).

    I've been enjoying reading reviews that tell me what I missed by skimming the last third of the book :-)

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    1. I am so sorry I missed this comment! I always reply to every comment! Yes, I agree. Sometimes I just need to get a book done! And then talk to someone else to piece it better.

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  19. Sorry for my English.
    Please tell me you have added to the blog page range?
    I read your blog and write a blog.

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