Friday, 14 November 2014

The Goldfinch by Donna Tartt

This book did not work for me.  It had moments where I listened in rapt attention and others where I was lost listening to long, monotonous discourses on some abstract topic that I couldn't relate back to Theo and his plight.  On the whole, there just wasn't enough of the compelling passages for me to recommend this novel.   I'm sure there are many who disagree with me, as this book has won numerous notable awards. 

The story starts in New York City while 13 year old Theo is visiting a museum with his mother.  An accident takes the life of his mother and in the confusion that follows, Theo takes The Goldfinch, a painting by artist Carel Fabritius from the museum.  The reader then follows Theo for the next decades while he attempts to resolve his angst over what has  happened in the past.

A coming of age novel for a boy without a suitable/stable adult influence.  Even before the accident, Theo had set a pattern of not learning from the bad decisions he made.  This doesn't change regardless of the many second chances he is given. 

Two characters helped to redeem this book for me.  Theo meets Boris about a year after the accident and together they get into all sorts of risky situations.  Boris is the bad boy type that as a parent I don't really want my child to hang out with, but as a literary character, I can't wait to read about his next exploit.  Shortly after the incident that killed his mother, Theo meets James (Hobie) Hobart, a elderly furniture restorer, who later becomes his guardian and mentor.   This is a man who you want to know and would trust as part of your family.  He is a stabilising factor in Theo's life and he keeps the story grounded.

I listened to the Hachette Audio book version, 32 hours and 24 minutes and read by David Pittu.  He did a good job of the many characters and their different ethnicities.  Hobie and Boris became real in my mind while listening to them talk.

 "The Goldfinch" by Carel Fabritius is a real painting that is part of The Frick Collection that is housed at The Royal Picture Galley Mauritshuis, The Hague.

Thanks to The Frick Collection for use of the image of "The Goldfinch".

Thanks to Hachette Audio for use of the cover image.

1 comment:

Tracy Terry said...

Not an author I've ever been drawn to for some reason. At least there was something to redeem it in your eyes which I suppose is something.