Author: Donna Tartt // First published: January 2013 // Genre: Contemporary // Get it @TheBookDepository
This edition: 32 h 25 min (unabridged), published in October 2013 by Hachette Audio // Get it @Audible
Read in April 2015
Synopsis (from Goodreads)
Theo Decker, a thirteen-year-old New Yorker, miraculously survives an accident that kills his mother. Abandoned by his father, Theo is taken in by the family of a wealthy friend. Bewildered by his strange new home on Park Avenue, disturbed by schoolmates who don’t know how to talk to him, and tormented above all by his unbearable longing for his mother, he clings to one thing that reminds him of her: a small, mysteriously captivating painting that ultimately draws Theo into the underworld of art.
As an adult, Theo moves silkily between the drawing rooms of the rich and the dusty labyrinth of an antiques store where he works. He is alienated and in love-and at the center of a narrowing, ever more dangerous circle.
The Goldfinch is a mesmerizing, stay-up-all-night and tell-all-your-friends triumph, an old-fashioned story of loss and obsession, survival and self-invention, and the ruthless machinations of fate.
I really wanted to read this book, but since I try to buy as few books as possible, I figured I’d use my Audible credit to get this one and have it read to me. It took me almost 1.5 month to get through it, and I don’t think that it played in favour of the book. It is very good, don’t get me wrong, but at one point I was ready to give up on it because it was so long (32 hours).
I vaguely knew that it dealt with a young boy who lost his mother, but I didn’t know the specifics. So I was rather surprised to see that what I knew was only the starting point and that the story would develop and follow Theo growing up.
Okay, so now I’m gonna make myself some new enemies: I was bored. 32+ hours or 500+ pages for the print version, and I feel nothing happens. No, that’s not what I mean… The character goes through a lot of stuff (the kid can’t catch a break), but for what? First of all he makes horrible (life)decisions, hangs out with the wrong people, gets mixed up in shady things, and at the end… ? I don’t know, in the last chapter he goes into a philosophical speech about the meaning of life, and it lost me completely.
At first I wanted to feel sorry for Theo, and try to understand him, but at one point I just gave up and wanted to say to him “I’m sorry that all those shitty things happened to you, but you clearly don’t do anything to improve your life now —your mom would be so proud. So now I don’t care anymore. Go ruin your life and be miserable. Whatever”.
I thoroughly disliked, I’d say… 75% of the characters. Which is not unheard of. Holden Caulfield (The Catcher in the Rye) is pretty shitty as characters go, but I still liked the book. (I think I read somewhere that Theo Decker was a modern day Holden Caulfield).
So this is where I’m stuck with this one: I didn’t like the characters, but I have to admit that the writing was very good. Of course I have a distorted perception of this since I listened to it and not read it, but even as you hear it, you can feel the good writing. It felt a little pretentious at times (you’re educated and like French things, we get it), but not overwhelming. Even though I disliked the characters, it doesn’t change the fact that it was good writing.
This is going to be a 3.5/5 for me. I think the fact that I listened to it on audiobook, and the fact that it took me so much time to get through it, tainted my reading experience with this one. Maybe if I had read the print version, I would have been more involved in the story, but by listening to it sporadically, I just ended up being mad at all the characters.