Thursday, May 15, 2014

The Goldfinch

I waited awhile to read The Goldfinch, although I had it on my TBR list since it came out.  I usually prefer to read softcover books, thus I wait until they come out in soft cover.  But when I saw The Goldfinch sitting on a bookshelf at my daughter's house, I jumped on the opportunity to borrow it!  The Goldfinch, written by Donna Tartt, is a huge book...784 pages.  I will admit that I felt a little bogged down during the middle part of the book, but in hindsight, I felt like most of that part of the book was essential to the entire story, so I don't think that it could have been shortened much.

The story is narrated by 13 year old Theo Decker who lived in New York City with his mother.  His father had left the family, so it was just the two of them struggling to get by.  One morning, Theo's mother had an appointment at Theo's school to discuss Theo, so she kept him out of school and they went to the Metropolitan Museum while waiting to attend the appointment.  While visiting the museum, Theo caught the eye of a young girl who was also there with an older gentleman.  Theo told his mother he wanted to go to the gift shop for a bit (hoping to meet the girl), so his mother went off to see more paintings.  A few minutes later a horrific explosion occurred in the Museum.  Theo was knocked unconscious and went he woke, he began to find his bearings.  He came across the older gentleman who had been with the young girl.  The man was gravely injured, but was able to talk to Theo a bit.  He gave Theo an old ring to keep safe.  Theo eventually made his way out of the Museum never having been discovered by the rescue workers.  However, before he left the Museum, without consciously thinking about it, he took an old Dutch masterpiece called The Goldfinch that had survived the explosion.

The rest of Theo's life centers around The Goldfinch painting and his attempts to keep it safe and to ultimately find a way to return it.  With his father gone, he went to live with a friend's family, until some time later when his father, wiht ulterior motives, came to take him to Las Vegas to live with him.  There Theo meet Boris, who Theo follows into much trouble.

After living in Las Vegas for some time, circumstances arrived that made it necessary for Theo to leave there, and so he made his way back to New York, and let the ring he had been given lead him to his new life.

Keeping The Goldfinch painting safe was the purpose of Theo's life, from age 13 through adulthood. It seemed to become what he had left of his mother to him.

I found the very end of the book to be the most well-written.  There was a lot of philosophical thinking at the end.

"What if our badness and mistakes are the very thing that set our fate and bring us round to good? What if, for some of us, we can't get there any other way?"

It's a good book.  I have to agree with a friend of mine who said that she couldn't stop reading it, yet couldn't really tell you what was so good about it! Another sign of a good book...I thought about it a lot after I had finished it.

The Goldfinch won the 2014 Pulitzer Prize for Fiction and was also one of the New York Times Book Review's 10 Best Books of 2013.

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