Book Reviews

Book Review: The Goldfinch by Donna Tartt

The Goldfinch by Donna Tartt

Publication Date: September 23rd, 2013

Publisher: Abacus

Genre(s): Contemporary, Literary Fiction

Series Status: Stand alone

Pages: 864

Format and Source: Paperback, Owned

Rating: 3 out of 5

Synopsis from Goodreads:

Aged thirteen, Theo Decker, son of a devoted mother and a reckless, largely absent father, survives an accident that otherwise tears his life apart. Alone and rudderless in New York, he is taken in by the family of a wealthy friend. He is tormented by an unbearable longing for his mother, and down the years clings to the thing that most reminds him of her: a small, strangely captivating painting that ultimately draws him into the criminal underworld. As he grows up, Theo learns to glide between the drawing rooms of the rich and the dusty antiques store where he works. He is alienated and in love – and his talisman, the painting, places him at the centre of a narrowing, ever more dangerous circle.

The Goldfinch is a haunted odyssey through present-day America and a drama of enthralling power. Combining unforgettably vivid characters and thrilling suspense, it is a beautiful, addictive triumph – a sweeping story of loss and obsession, of survival and self-invention, of the deepest mysteries of love, identity and fate.


When I read that blurb I thought that it would lean more towards the criminal underworld than anything, and focus on more of the action side of things. But, if anything, this book is more to do with symbolism and mental stability than anything else, and is a lot deeper than I previously thought.

This book follows Theo Decker, who survives a bombing at a museum that claims the life of his mother, but from it he takes two obsessions: a painting of a chained goldfinch which his mother loves, and a young girl who survived the explosion too, but not without consequences. This book follows every part of his life after the accident, from staying with his rich friend, to moving to Vegas with his gambler father and his girlfriend where he makes a lifelong friend, and his return to New York where he becomes a more shady business dealer, and all the while his two obsessions are with him. He also suffers with PTSD, but this is not the main point in this book – I don’t think. I believe it is his unhealthy need to continue owning the Goldfinch which he stole from the museum on the day of his mother’s death, and his even unhealthier longing for his mother.

Whilst this is such an amazingly written book, I feel like I lost something somewhere in the eight hundred and sixty something pages. This is one of those books where there is an obvious message, and somehow, even with the last chapter where he fully explains it, I still continue to feel like I missed something. I don’t know whether it was because of my poor concentration or the writing, but I feel like it was somehow a waste of time.

No, I do not regret reading this, even though after the first six or seven hundred pages it was a struggle to read. I just feel like I was let down, that I missed the oh so important message which would make me re-think everything. What made up for this was the utterly brilliant character development I saw with every character in the book. They all fitted as if they were real, with real issues and they all changed in the way that everyone does as they grow. They descriptions were also beautiful, and I like the not-so-happy ending, which, while not sad was not something that fits into a Disney movie.

Overall I do recommend this book to anyone willing to put a lot of time and energy into reading it. I was only able to put so much in, but I think that if you get the message, which I didn’t, it would change this book completely for you, and it would go from a three to a five.

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6 thoughts on “Book Review: The Goldfinch by Donna Tartt

  1. In truth, I don’t think you missed the message – I think Donna Tartt missed it. You liked this more than me – I really thought it was an overlong waste of words, beautiful words sometimes, but still wasted.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. I’ve had this book on my Kindle for such a long time but am put off by its length and having seen various reviews from amazing to not worth it I guess it’s one to decide for yourself 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

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