The Goldfinch - Donna Tartt
I remember when Tartt’s first novel, The Secret History, was published to much fanfare in 1992. It was another ten years before she published her next one, The Little Friend. And last year her third novel, The Goldfinch was published.
So three books in 21 years is not exactly prolific. But definitely a case of quality over quantity.
I loved The Secret History, which was described as a ‘whydunnit’ rather than a ‘whodunnit’ and utilised one of my favourite literary conventions of the unreliable narrator. And if The Goldfinch is half as good, I’m going to be very happy indeed.
From Publishers Weekly
Donna Tartt's latest novel clocks in at an unwieldy 784 pages. The story begins with an explosion at the Metropolitan Museum that kills narrator Theo Decker's beloved mother and results in his unlikely possession of a Dutch masterwork called The Goldfinch. Shootouts, gangsters, pillowcases, storage lockers, and the black market for art all play parts in the ensuing life of the painting in Theo's care. With the same flair for suspense that made The Secret History (1992) such a masterpiece, The Goldfinch features the pulp of a typical bildungsroman—Theo's dissolution into teenage delinquency and climb back out, his passionate friendship with the very funny Boris, his obsession with Pippa (a girl he first encounters minutes before the explosion)—but the painting is the novel's secret heart. Theo's fate hinges on the painting, and both take on depth as it steers Theo's life. Some sentences are clunky (suddenly and meanwhile abound), metaphors are repetitive (Theo's mother is compared to birds three times in 10 pages), and plot points are overly coincidental (as if inspired by TV), but there's a bewitching urgency to the narration that's impossible to resist. Theo is magnetic, perhaps because of his well-meaning criminality. The Goldfinch is a pleasure to read; with more economy to the brushstrokes, it might have been great.