The Goldfinch is Donna Tartt’s Pulitzer Prize-winning third novel, and one that allegedly took her a decade to write. That seems like an awfully long time, but given level of meticulous detail Tartt uses to construct her characters and settings (and the sheer length of the book!), I can understand why fans had to wait so long for this mesmerizing coming-of-age tale.
My mother ordered me a copy of The Goldfinch off Amazon after falling in love with the story, and I agreed to read it only half-heatedly, having never before heard of Tartt or The Goldfinch, and feeling a little dismayed that I had to disrupt my carefully planned reading queue.
But boy am I a sucker for a good coming-of-age tale.
Taking place in present-day America, the novel features 13-year-old Theodore Decker who, after losing his mother to a terrorist attack at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, faces a maelstorm of uncertainty and displacement. The novel follows Theo throughout his youth as he struggles to make sense of his mother’s death, an event that sends him on a trajectory of drug use, theft, and self-realization.
The Goldfinch is special because it boasts excellent plot and character development; I find authors often sacrifice one for the other. Tartt is a master of crafting scenes with palpable detail and characters too uniquely flawed to exist only on paper.
This is the kind of story that co-opts your thoughts as you go about your day and leaves you with a book hangover once it’s finished. I carried this 800-page, hard-covered monstrosity everywhere with me: to work, to my diving class, on public transport, just in case some reading time presented itself to me.
One thing I would like to discuss with someone who has read this book is the ending. Endings can be difficult for readers. For me, the ending of The Goldfinch was difficult to reconcile. After spending a decade churning this novel out, I suppose the author is entitled to end her story however she pleases, and I absolutely see the reasoning behind the ending, but I found it just a pinch unsatisfying.
That said, The Goldfinch is excellent, and Donna Tartt is very much on my radar now.