Book Review: The Goldfinch

Author: Donna Tartt

First published in: 2013


While the 13-year-old Theo is visiting the art museum in Manhattan with his mother(an art student) his attention is caught by a young girl who herself is accompanied by an elderly man. Suddenly there is a loud noise, a terrorist bombing in the museum. Theo survives the attack but unfortunately his mother does not. Going through the debris, searching for his mother Theo sees the same elderly man who hands him his ring and somehow in the whole confusion and fear Theo along with the ring takes the renowned painting of a Goldfinch, an art piece which his mother admired immensely. He, without a mother and an absent father goes on to stay with his friend’s family. Soon his father who had left him and his mother a year ago comes to take him to Vegas for ulterior motives where Theo befriends an alcohol and drug addict Russian boy, Boris. Meanwhile, Theo’s drunk father dies in an accident and to escape the child care homes Theo leaves Vegas to go back to Manhattan. Before leaving for Vegas Theo had got in touch with the partner of the elderly man whom he saw in the museum. In Manhattan he stays with the same person. All this while living in fear of getting caught for possessing the Goldfinch since police was on lookout for all pieces stolen from museum on the day of attack. After bumping into Boris after many years and after a series of events circling the Goldfinch Theo finds himself in another country just before his wedding day, alone, without passport, having committed a murder, contemplating suicide.



Loved it! It keeps you hooked until the end. Usually the novels with more than 400-500 pages have big monologues in the middle or too much description for the smallest thing or event which bores me personally but this one even though more than 700 pages did not give me such a moment. Maybe because there is a lot going on throughout. The narrative is in first person and starts with a flashback with Theo finding himself in a hotel room, on brink of committing suicide just reminiscing how it all started. Starting from the day he carried the Goldfinch out of the museum and all the happenings thereafter, all experiences that led to the current day. The wrongs that he did, the people he wronged – all comes to him while lying there in the hotel room.

The novel explores the emotions of the young boy who adored his energetic mother, his experience living with another family – completely different from his own, his search for the young girl he had seen in the museum, his friendship with another boy going through the same stuff as he was, his namesake relationship with his opportunist father, his undying need to hold on to the same thing he feared having the most – the Goldfinch.

The novel is complete package of different emotions – sorrow, fear, love, friendship, realization.

Fact: The novel won the Pulitzer prize for Fiction in 2014.


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